The striking Erica Carroll plays Hannah on The CW’s long-running “Supernatural” series (currently in its tenth season). Hannah is an angel who was spared by Metatron (a really sinister antagonist played by Curtis Armstrong) so she could tell others why a group of angels was just massacred. Not making the best first impression, back in season 9, Hannah tries to kill one of the series’ heroes, Castiel (played by Misha Collins), during their initial encounter. However, on the preview for the Tuesday, November 25 episode, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flash that shows her and Castiel tightly embraced in a passionate kiss followed by another flash of a wide-eyed Castiel gawking at what appears to be Hannah… without clothes!
Hannah has come a long way. Throughout her arc, she has traversed from a disconnected entity void of any real compassion for the creatures on earth to an endearing underdog struggling to grasp what it is to feel human. And in the upcoming show, it looks like she’s falling in love… though the episode also has witches and a dating service, so viewers can’t really be sure of anything till watching.
“Sometimes people really don’t like Hannah,” Erica laughed. The actress was gracious enough to chat in depth about the character of Hannah during an interview with zoomdune.com. “I like that they don’t like her. It’s not insulting to me as an artist, it’s actually complementary!”
If anything, Carroll is the polar opposite of Hannah. She is warm, engaging, quick-witted, and animated. There is a brilliant, infectious energy radiating from Erica that makes her a real joy to engage in conversation.
“I would far rather play somebody who is not close to the way I am,” she revealed. “I really enjoy playing the aggressive — I hate to use the term ‘bitchy’ — characters, but I do like the strong, dominating, aggressive characters who might not be the nicest people. There are definitely stories I do not feel connected to telling at this point in my career, but it can be enjoyable playing some of these not-so-nice characters because in real life I like to think of myself as a kind person… so it’s a fun outlet,” Erica laughed.
When asked how she goes about so convincingly portraying a character, like Hannah, who might be very much unlike herself, she replied, “I am a pretty expressive individual in real life, very spatially animated, so I found playing Hannah to be a little difficult. I just felt so stiff because Hannah is not quite sure about occupying this body… [In the ‘Supernatural’ mythos, angels and demons do not typically have their own bodies, instead they invade and occupy a human, or a ‘vessel’ as it is called on the show.] And she’s not sure about her environment either, so I didn’t want her to have a very natural, human kind of rhythm to her, I wanted her to have a little bit of stiffness.”
“I initially felt so stifled because I had to constantly suppress that impulse to sink into my hip or to slump my shoulders… I had to be consciously aware of my body at all times when I was playing Hannah,” she explained. “I put a lot of thought into backstory and where a character comes from and how that influences her life. I also think a lot about where a character’s energy comes from and where she holds it in her body. I find I walk around leading with that energy… Everything stems from that place and I let it inform my other choices.”
She added, “I often feel more comfortable, even for auditions, if I start with the outside and move in. When I start to freak out and think, ‘I can’t seem to connect with this character!’ I find if I take the outside and bring it to the inside, that’s when I discover that character’s swagger. For instance, I can’t tell you the specific details of this upcoming project I was working on, but it was a period piece and I had a very different wardrobe compared to what we wear nowadays. As soon as I put on that wardrobe, it just all came together for me… all the emotional work, all the subtleties, everything.”
As previously stated, the character Erica portrays on The CW series has a definite arc. Hannah began as a rather unlikable or, at the very least, distant supernatural being, but the longer she is trapped on earth, the more she seems to become infected with the human condition.
“That’s very similar to how I feel about her,” she acknowledged. “It’s a very tricky role because I’m obviously only getting one script at a time and I have to build on what’s going on to make choices for her.”
In regards to understanding Hannah’s gradual transition, Erica draws upon some of her own experience with relationships. “Often, the people I end up connecting with the most and the people I end up having the most in common with are people I don’t tend to like very much at first. I think that happens because there’s something that is very much me in that other person and it’s just human nature for that to kind of rub you the wrong way. It’s kind of like that ‘eww’ reaction when you hear your own recorded voice played back to you.”
“Another way to think about it is… it’s like people who just show you themselves right away as opposed to those people who show you what they think you want to see. Hannah is an angel, she doesn’t know how to play that human game, so we all go into it thinking, ‘I don’t like you.’ But then, you start to see her humanity — if you want to use that word — and as you start to see more and more of her, you might start finding things that you like. There’s an important life lesson in there, too. No matter what our initial impression is when we interact with people, it is important to stay open because there are so many things that you do not know about that person yet… They might end up being your best friend or even your soulmate, so you need to stay open to find out. And that’s how I feel about Hannah. Stay open to her. It really warms my heart that people are warming up to her because that’s what I hoped would happen. It’s a very positive thing.”
“Supernatural” airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern on The CW. Besides her role of Hannah, Erica can also be seen in “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour” and the film “Feed the Gods.” To keep up with this “angel,” like Erica on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.