Yesterday we shared an interview with the star of The Conjuring 2, Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), and now it’s time for his talented co-star, Vera Farmiga, to talk about their upcoming horror, and the many wonderful and scary things that come with such an undertaking. Check out her interview below:
What do you like about working with James Wan as a director, and why do you think his movies have such a profound effect on audiences?
Vera Farmiga: James is a wizardry combo of technical savvy, emotional profundity and terrifying imagination. It’s the frappé of all three that makes him such a hotshot storyteller. It’s his easy-breezy humorous bedside manner and his big heart that make him so appealing to me as an actor. We have a wonderful shorthand this time around. He knows to direct me like a dancer, often with choreography and physicality and tempo.
For me personally, a large part of creating the scares is oftentimes approaching it as a dance, considering every little movement, every head turn, every step, every breath. James will tell me to linger two more seconds here, or slow my pace there. I find wonderment in working with him – in the emotional and physical choreography of it all, ‘Whirl there, pirouette there, leap there, flicker here…’
What qualities of the real Lorraine Warren were most important to you in shaping your performance in The Conjuring 2?
Farmiga: Lorraine is as sweet as molasses; her nature is kind and compassionate and gentle. I focus on her gracefulness, her poise. She is light-footed; she floats chipper and bright-eyed and passionately through life. At the same time, she stomps with sure-footedness and squashes and rebukes evil with assuredness and conviction. She has a remarkably cheerful disposition, for all the macabre and devilry she has witnessed.
There are joyful people, and then there’s Lorraine Warren. Anyone who meets her can agree that she is luminous. She glows holy with positivity and compassion. She adored her husband so and respected him, honored him, admired him. She delighted in him and their ordained mission together. Tapping into Lorraine’s sustained joy was imperative.
You and Patrick Wilson have such great chemistry on screen. What was it like to reunite with him in the roles of Ed and Lorraine and further build on the bond you created so authentically in the first film?
Farmiga: Patrick and I also have great chemistry off-screen. What is chemistry but rapport – it’s friendship; it’s attraction. I’m attracted to his goodness, his goofiness, his willingness. He is a radiant spark of a human being and, frankly, he lights me up like few can; he makes me shriek with laughter. Reuniting with him this time around for The Conjuring 2 was even more jocularity and mirth. We ease into buffoonery and antics as soon as you throw us together. Reprimanding us won’t help. It’s like adding baking soda and vinegar together – it just gets frothy and fun. We’ll get the job more than done, but not without a thousand wisecracks. I love to pull that guy’s chain, and he loves to pull even harder on mine.
Had you heard about the Enfield Haunting prior to The Conjuring 2, and what really sticks with you about the real life events that inspired the film?
Farmiga: What really provokes me about the real life events that occurred in the Enfield Haunting was the duration of time that the infestation/possession endured. The Hodgson family was tormented for years and years; they suffered through, coped with, and weathered years and years of spiritual, mental, physical, emotional anguish. How anyone puts on a brave face and perseveres through such harrowing, searing, relentless distress and trauma is beyond my comprehension. And how anyone agrees to revisit that gloom and fear in the form of a film is sheer audacity to me.
You have an incredibly diverse career, and continue to explore complex women who go to some very dark places. What draws you to characters like Lorraine Warren or Norma Bates and the worlds they inhabit? Are you a fan of scary movies yourself?
Farmiga: Funnily enough, what turns my head about a female character is her lightness. She needs to have a considerable amount of glow. It can be anything positive – humor, goodness, perseverance, compassion, dignity… No matter how dark the world she inhabits, no matter what depravity of obstacle is thrown her way, it’s imperative that she must have some luminescence of character. Endurance and dedication and goodness are vital to me when considering a character. She could be flawed as they come, but imperative is finding a core of virtue.
You bonded with Lorraine on the first film. What was it like to see her again when she visited The Conjuring 2 set? Had you had a chance to see each other or interact since the first film?
Farmiga: Seeing Lorraine when she visited The Conjuring 2 set was strengthening, steadying, and assuring for me. I love listening to her positivity, and watching her. I love to make her laugh.
Patrick and I were eager to visit her at her Connecticut home a few months before the start of photography on The Conjuring 2. Time spent with her and her daughter, Judy, and her son-in-law, Tony Spera, is like time spent with extended family. We ate homemade meatballs and told jokes, caught up. I even mustered the courage to visit their archival Museum of the Occult in the basement. Patrick insisted. This time a swig of wine girded me with enough courage to explore the Demonology Museum.
In The Conjuring 2, Lorraine resists taking on another case, but the Hodgson family moves her to want to help. What qualities do you think Frances O’Connor brings to the role of Peggy Hodgson, the single mom trying to protect her children through all this?
Farmiga: Second time around, I can verify that Frances O’Conner is a formidable actress. I had the great privilege of working with her on the HBO film Iron Jawed Angels. She is as tough and deep and nuanced and easygoing and big-hearted as they come. As serious as the subject matter, she fit in effortlessly and harmoniously to the frivolity and gaiety that Patrick and I establish. Frances delved deeply and acutely into such frazzled, worn out, protective, devoted, single-handed maternity – she blows me away.
What was it like for you to work with Madison Wolfe, who plays Janet? This is a pretty intense role for her …
Farmiga: The Conjuring 2 is a declaration of the tornado of talent, ability, and craft that is Madison Wolfe. Madison is a revelation as Janet. She has a savoir faire of storytelling that is beyond her years and experience. Her inventiveness, her finesse, her ease, her imagination, and her access to emotional depth are unlike anything I’ve seen at such a young age. It’s mind-blowing.
There were reports from the first film of strange occurrences on and off the set – and some crew members reported paranormal encounters during this shoot as well … did you experience anything supernatural while working on The Conjuring 2?
Farmiga: I don’t like referencing these occurrences. I intuit that it empowers negative mysticism when I acknowledge them. Sure. Eerie, mysterious things happen in and around the time of the shoot. I have photographed weird and mystifying things time and time again in and around filming. It is very, very baffling and inexplicable and odd. I send pictures of the strangeness to Patrick and James. Ask them.
What do you hope audiences experience when they see The Conjuring 2
Farmiga: Audiences see this type of film to be transported to another realm, for the spiritual consideration of it. For some it’s to be reminded and fortified that, ‘Oh, as challenging as life is for me, these people have it much harder, much worse.’ These types of films investigate and challenge our belief systems. I can only hope that The Conjuring 2 is an enlightening, emotional, dramatic, transporting experience for audiences. I hope they can experience, in a palpable way, the terror, the panic, the alarm, the fear and trembling that the Hodgson family experienced, and decide for themselves the validity, the possibility of negative and positive mysticism.
Do you think you’ll revisit the character of Lorraine again for another Conjuring story?
Farmiga: Yes! I hope to revisit this character for at least a trilogy of stories. I’d love to bookend The Conjuring 2 with a 3. I love that at the heart of our story is a tale of compassion and selflessness and righteousness. It feels a holy endeavor to revisit these characters time and again. And to accomplish it with good friends – James, Patrick, producers Rob Cowan and Peter Safran.
The Conjuring 2 will be released in the US on June 7, New Zealand and Australia on June 9 and the UK on June 13.