As you can probably hear from the screams coming from the movie theater, The Possession of Hannah Grace is currently playing. The movie tells the tale of an exorcism gone bad leading to a loss of a young woman’s life. As the body is transported to the morgue the attendant soon learns that evil has visited the mortuary.
We caught up with Hannah Grace herself, Kirby Johnson, to talk about her role in the film.
Did you do any special research for your role as Hannah in The Possession of Hannah Grace?
Kirby Johnson: I was already a huge scary movie fan so I would say I already had idea in my mind on what I needed to and how I was going to make the character of Hannah Grace come to life. I definitely went back and watched the classic Exorcist! I also took some inspiration from animals such as snakes. You think of how a snake moves a certain way and you try to duplicate that.
What did you find most challenging in the role?
Kirby Johnson: I’m sure everyone would think it was all of the crazy movements I was doing with my body, but really it was braving the cold Boston air and keeping my eyes wide open when I had scenes where I had to just lay there and act dead. I’m positive I could beat anyone at a staring contest. Ha!
How was it working with director Diederik Van Rooijen?
Kirby Johnson: It was an absolute dream. He was so encouraging and it is an honor for me that I got to make his vision come to life.
Can you talk a bit about working with Shay Mitchell and the on-screen chemistry between you two?
Kirby Johnson: Shay was super inspiring to work with. Watching her act and how she handled herself on set was really amazing. The first scene we shot together was one where I had to be crawling all over her, so we got comfortable together really fast! We worked together almost every day for two months and every day she would still examine my makeup because it is so gross, but in a cool way. It was really funny.
Can you talk a bit about what made you become a contortionist?
Kirby Johnson: That’s so hard because to answer because I never “become a contortionist.” Ever since I was a kid I was able to pop my arms out of their sockets, so it was just natural for me and nothing I ever really practiced. It was really just a fun little thing I would do as a kid to freak other people out!
Were your fellow cast members amazed at watching you contort your body as Hannah?
Kirby Johnson: Haha YES! They were amazed and freaked out at the same time. I shot with them for two months and they never really got used to my creepy bones popping out.
The possession genre has been done a lot in recent years with films like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Vatican Tapes, The Last Exorcism, etc. What makes The Possession of Hannah Grace different from those films?
Kirby Johnson: This is really the story of what happens AFTER and exorcism. We have seen a lot of movies that lead up to that, but this more explores the idea of when you die, do you really die? I also like that you see a bit of a relationship between Hannah Grace and her father. It makes you sympathize with her a little.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
Kirby Johnson: You can follow me on my Instagram to see what I do in my everyday life when I’m not covered in crazy scary makeup. @kirby_j
In closing, what would you like to say about The Possession of Hannah Grace?
Kirby Johnson: I’m just so honored and excited to be a part of this movie and I can’t wait for the world to see it and have nightmares!
Thanks for your time Kirby. Best of luck with The Possession of Hannah Grace.