A Conversation with Castle's Molly Quinn

Castle's Molly Quinn has it made. On-screen, she's got a killer TV family: She stars as Alexis Castle, the level-headed daughter of playboy Richard (Nathan Fillion) and the granddaughter of free-spirited Martha (Susan Sullivan). Off-screen, she's got a high school diploma (almost!) and an incredibly well-spoken head on her shoulders. Oh, yeah, and she's only sixteen years old.

Playing Alexis on Castle is Quinn's first major TV gig. Prior to landing on the show, she scored parts in films like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Sacrifice, and My One and Only. I chatted with this teenager from Texas about the Beckett-Castle relationship, Nathan Fillion's famous friends, and paying attention in "class."

TV.com: Considering how crazy her father is and how her childhood must have been, why do you think your character is so well-adjusted?
Molly Quinn: She grew up with this wild, frenzied life. It's nothing new to her. It's not like she went from a docile home in the country to a wild and crazy life in New York... But she also knows that all behavior has consequences and she can see that from her dad. That if she steals a police car naked, then she's going to get arrested. I think she has fun watching. She just has to treat her life like a reality show.

What's it like to work with Nathan Fillion?
It's more like playing than working. We actually get into a little bit of trouble because we'll be hitting each other and playing games on the iPhone inbetween takes. The director will be talking and then he'll be like, "Guys, guys!" And we'll just look at him like little caught children. So Nathan gets me in trouble, I'll tell you that!

And what about Susan Sullivan?
Susan is such a classy lady. She's so different from her character. In real life, she's very intelligent... She's a free thinker. She has a lot of really good advice and she has a really good head on her shoulders. She's seen a lot, she's done a lot, she knows a lot. [Her character] Martha, to me at least... thinks that she knows everything, but doesn't really know much. [Martha] was probably brought up in a ritzy home and was a victim of the '60s.

How do the three of you go about creating a family dynamic?
It just happened. We love spending time together and that's basically it. We just clicked right away. We really don't work on it at all. We share each other's problems and we talk about things that are going on. We take hikes and play Clue together.

What do you think is going to happen between Castle and Detective Beckett (Stana Katic)? What do you want to happen?
From my character's point of view, I really like Beckett and I think that she's good for my dad. I'm not sure if I am ready—actually no, I'm positive I do not want there to be another strong woman in his life, because that's my spot! I don't know how Alexis would handle someone coming in and fixing his lunches and making the special hot cocoa that he has when he's had a bad day and stuff like that. But when I go off to college I'd like to have her there so I don't feel guilty about leaving. I think she'll have her place when I'm gone, but while I'm there, I just want her to be a friend.

How do you think Castle and Beckett would react if Alexis had a boyfriend on the show?
In what they've shown so far, Beckett is really cool about it and Castle is really protective. He's like, "Go on, you know, be a rebel, go out and do something, experiment, try different stuff." And then every time Alexis does try to do something, he pulls back the reins. So Alexis is getting mixed signals. But I'm sure that Beckett would give Alexis good advice and everything, unless [the boyfriend] was a convicted felon or something. You never know what Alexis will do. There are some pretty charming con artists out there.

Will the relationship between Alexis and Beckett continue to develop?
I think it'll happen more and I think she's also going to start interacting with Lanie (Tamala Jones), the medical examiner. Not only does Alexis like the police work, but she also likes the forensics. So [she and Lanie] will definitely be doing a few more things together as the show goes on. But not too much, you know, because Alexis is still in school and she's still figuring out what she wants to do. She may want to write like her dad or, God forbid, go into acting.

What's the biggest difference between acting on TV and acting in movies?
There's more time to develop a character on a show, but at the same time, it's really hard for me because I have to spread out different little mysteries and quirks over time. In a movie, you have four months in two hours. So... everything happens at once and it's really concentrated. That's what I love about doing a movie, because you can prepare everything and think of all these little cool ideas. Whereas on a show, as much as I love it, you've got to keep moving.

What other types of projects are you interested in?
I actually really like doing voiceovers... Ben 10: Alien Force wrote a part for me on an upcoming episode and I'm really excited! I'm also looking at doing a couple of historical fiction movies. A lot of them are action, because I really enjoy using my physical side, my martial arts and dance skills, which is something that we see Alexis do sometimes. I'm looking forward to a couple of projects where I get to kill demons and stuff like that.

What kind of characters would you like to play?
I really want to do a dark character. Not really a bad guy, but someone dark and mysterious. Where everyone says, "Ooh, it has to be her!" and at the end you find out it isn't. Just someone who looks guilty. I love, love, love fantasy, like Lord of the Rings and things like that. I'd love to be the Little Mermaid someday, if they ever remade it. Or Tinker Bell, because I've heard that Tim Burton may be considering doing Peter Pan. There's talk about the new 2012 Spider-Man reboot, and that people really want me to do Mary Jane. That would be a lot of fun to do a young Mary Jane, because she was the sexy bad girl.

Which actors do you look up to?
Well, Nathan's pretty tall, so I look up to him a lot [laughs]. I look up to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cate Blanchett, who else? Forest Whitaker, Robert Downey Jr.—in fact my manager said, "Molly, you can't be Robert Downey Jr., you can't do some of these roles." One thing about me is that I don't like being told I can't do something. I'm actually auditioning for this project where I turn out to be King Arthur. She said I couldn't do Robert Downey Jr., but look, I get to be King Arthur! The Coen Brothers, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro have really made something of themselves and impacted people. I'd love to work with them sometime, too.

What is your favorite TV show—besides Castle of course?
It has to be The Office. Rainn Wilson is so funny, and he's actually really good friends with Nathan. I finally bullied Nathan enough into getting me an autograph from Rainn. It says, "Molly, join my army of champions," and he's peeking through the blinds in his old Dwight outfit. I had a geek moment when I got that.

I can't imagine what the two of them are like together. That's got to be ridiculous.
They play Call of Duty together all the time. It's hilarious.

How do you manage school while you're on set?
I have a degree program and I turn my stuff into my school back in Texas. I'm actually almost done with my high school diploma. I only have half of my economics class to finish.

Thank you! It's a big deal because then I'll be able to work as an adult. That's a really big tool, especially being sixteen, when you're competing with twenty-one-year-olds who look sixteen.

What's your favorite subject?
I really am enjoying my economics class, but I think my favorite course has to be history. I just love learning about the way people used to live their lives, and I think what also ties into that is psychology, because I like knowing why people do certain things. Every behavior has consequences. In history, that's proven, and in psychology, you can figure out why... I really am interested in human behavior, so things that have to do with that really help me build characters. It all ties back to acting, of course.

What do you think you'll study in college?
I think I would pursue psychology because it would help me towards acting... Being on set is like being in college, for me, because I get to watch other people perform and I can learn from them if I listen and pay attention. And I get to participate, and that's always great, but a lot of times young actors don't pay attention [after they're done with a scene], or they just go off and do something else when they could be watching. That's a mistake. If you have the opportunity to watch Nathan Fillion or Jim Carrey do a scene, it's like getting a PhD in acting.

Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

Like TV.com on Facebook