Everyone loves watching a cute guy with kids, which makes the upcoming film Mommy Group Murder a can't-miss project. After all, it stars General Hospital heartthrob Ryan Carnes (Lucas Barnes) as dad to a brand-new baby. But that's not the only hook that the Lifetime Movie Network thriller offers.
The tense film follows new parents Ryan (Carnes) and Natalie (Leah Pipes), who are having a difficult time adjusting to their brand-new family member. Natalie joins a local mommy group to help her deal with the stress of becoming a new parent and quickly learns that membership comes at a price. When another member's husband turns up dead, Natalie makes it her mission to discover the truth before her own family meets the same fate.
Soap Central spoke with Carnes about his role in the film, which also stars Days of our Lives alum Kate Mansi (ex-Abigail Deveraux). Read on for details on the personal reason why the GH actor decided to give Mommy Group Murder his talent and how he deals with babies in real life.
Soap Central: Congratulations on your new film, Mommy Group Murder. How did your role in the film come about, and what made you want to sign on?
Ryan Carnes: I put myself on tape for my audition for the role, and that has become really customary these days. There's not a lot of walking into rooms anymore -- it's just a lot of self-tapes. So, when I read the audition scenes, a couple of things caught my attention. I thought that the dialogue in the audition scenes was really honest and really intimate. It was dialogue between a young husband and wife who have a new baby, and though I'm not married, and I don't have a baby, I have been in a relationship before where I was, with my partner, tackling similar scenes as I'm tackling in some of the scenes with Leah Pipes. Mental illness is kind of touched upon, as is deep sadness and mourning over a loss. I've been in a situation like that with an ex-girlfriend before, where those themes were present. So, I really responded to the material. For me, it seemed like an opportunity to exercise some of those feelings that I didn't fully move through at the time and deal with. So, I thought it was honest stuff, and I wanted to take a stab at it.
Soap Central: Lifetime films generally have pretty short shoots, so how were you and Leah Pipes able to quickly create the strong connection necessary to portray troubled newlyweds with a baby?
Carnes: I think it was a bit of a miracle! You're right, because we didn't have very much time at all. I got in late at night, and then the next day was our wardrobe fittings, and then the day after that we started shooting. The day that I went for my wardrobe fitting, Leah was there, too, for her wardrobe fitting, and it was at the costumer's house. Nick [Everhart], our director, was there, and when we both got through with our fitting, Nick just stole us and sat us down and made us start reading through some of the pivotal scenes that we had together. And then, this is really funny, actually, we asked the costumer, "Hey uh, do you have a bedroom upstairs that we could borrow just to block a couple of the scenes that we have tomorrow?" So, Lean and I literally went upstairs in this woman's house and rolled around on the bed in her spare bedroom, blocking these scenes. It was really hysterical -- but we did it! So, yes, we didn't have very much time at all, but the gods were on our side, and Nick cast the movie well, and fortunately, he got an actor and an actress who naturally had some chemistry, or at least we were able to be open enough and vulnerable enough with each other to be able to allow that chemistry to take place. Nick ended up being really happy with what the three of us were able to create in that regard in a very short amount of time. It's like one of those small miracles that happens sometimes, and we'll take it!
Soap Central: You play a new dad in the film, and you've also had some baby scenes on General Hospital. Are you generally pretty good with little kids and babies?
Carnes: You know, I don't know. I like to think I am! [Laughs] But I don't have any siblings, so when I was younger, I didn't have a younger brother or sister to deal with or to learn with, and I haven't had a lot of friends or other relatives [who've had kids]. I haven't had a lot of experience with small children. I've always liked children. I think children can teach us a lot, and I think they're far more honest than most adults, which I find refreshing. No one has told them yet that they can't be honest, so they just are. And babies, I mean, I had such an incredible experience on that set, and also getting to do what I've been doing with the storyline on General Hospital with the babies. I mean, babies are extraordinary. So, for me, I learned a lot. And I think, with babies, if you're present with them and you're open, and you allow them to give you what they're just naturally giving you as a baby, because it's just pure love, then I really don't know how you can not be good with babies. It's like, if you're letting them give you the love that they have to give, and you're loving them in return, then I think that's it -- there's no being good or being bad. You've just got to receive what they're giving.
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Meet Baby Delaney. This sweet, sweet girl and her counterpart, Baby Hazel, who also plays my daughter are two of the sweetest souls I've ever had the pleasure of holding and locking eyes with. In fact, I've spent more time with these two little nuggets than I have with any other babies in my life. And I'm forever grateful. They have opened my heart in ways unimaginable. They have afforded me the opportunity to have patience, understanding, compassion, and a kind heart, the likes of which I'm not sure I've ever had with myself, let alone anyone else. My time with them has been very special to me. During my time with them, something struck me. No matter how much they cried, no matter how upset they got, no matter how many times they didn't do what we wanted or "needed" them to do, we were consistently patient with them. We were consistently understanding. We didn't get mad at them because they were behaving a certain way. We didn't roll our eyes and judge them. We didn't yell at them or storm out of the room on them. We didn't say "We don't love you anymore." We loved them and let them figure it out and let them be until they were ready to come back to us or were done experiencing a certain emotional state. But, unfortunately, as adults, it often seems so hard to do this with our families, our friends, and especially our lovers and partners. Imagine if we could remember to offer the people we love most the same amount of compassion and understanding that we offer babies. Imagine if we did that with strangers. For we all still experience from time to time the parts that are scared, angry, fearful, and don't feel understood and are just trying to figure out this crazy world. So what if we could love ourselves, our loved ones, and even strangers we pass on the street the way we love babies? What if we could look at everyone around us the same way babies look at us -- with curiosity and unconditioned, untainted appreciation? I'm grateful to have gotten to know these little beings and been afforded the opportunity to have patience with them that I maybe haven't had with those I have loved. And maybe someday I'll have a daughter of my own. Oh dear God
Soap Central: For sure. But I feel like, having been around lots of very young children, you have to have a lot of patience, as well! It can be hard.
Carnes: Oh, for sure! [Laughs] Depending on the age, I think being around children can call for a lot of patience. But I think it's like with pets, in a sense. It's about the boundaries that you set, it's about the guidelines that you give them from very early on, and it's also about letting them be themselves. Kids need to be able to have the freedom to be themselves, within boundaries. I don't know, maybe someday I'll know firsthand. But for now, I'm enjoying not having to navigate some of the things that you're talking about!
Soap Central: Kate Mansi also stars in this film. Were you able to work with her at all?
Carnes: Yeah, Kate and I definitely had a couple of scenes together. It was such a short shoot, so a lot of us were there at the same time, and even if we weren't in a scene together, I got to hang out with Kate some behind the scenes. She was lovely, and we had a good time getting to know each other. I wish we would have gotten to work together more, because she's a really talented actress, and she was fun to be around.
Soap Central: From the teaser, it seems like your character is actually a potential victim in the film. With that in mind, I'm wondering if you've ever been suspicious that somebody was after you? Not to the extent of murder, of course! But maybe just out to make your life miserable?
Carnes: Oh, wow! [Laughs] I think I've definitely had days where I was pretty convinced the world was out to get me! That life itself was against me. Obviously, I know that that's not true, and everybody had bas days and gets frustrated. But, no, I can't say that I have ever felt like that, fortunately.
Soap Central: If you could choose anyone from the soap opera world to costar with you in another Lifetime Movie Network film, who would you choose and why?
Carnes: If we're going with someone who's currently on a soap, then I'd say Maurice Benard [Sonny Corinthos]. He just did the [Victoria] Gotti movie for Lifetime, and I've got to throw Maurice a bone. I love him. I love Maurice the guy, but I also love him as an actor. He's a great guy, and he's obviously really fun to watch and work with. So, it's a no-brainer.
Catch Mommy Group Murder this Saturday, March 16, at 8PM ET/PT on Lifetime Movie Network.
What do you think about our interview with Ryan Carnes? How do you feel about the way he views working with kids and babies? Will you be tuning in to Mommy Group Murder? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.