Academy Award-nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up In the Air,” “Safe House”) stars in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “The Conjuring” as a demonologist’s loving wife and preternaturally gifted partner Lorraine, who is swept along with her husband into the violent path of a malevolent presence.
Based on the true life story, “The Conjuring” tells the tale of how world renowned paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren were called upon to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most horrifying case of their lives.
Farmiga offers, “This was an interesting psychic space to explore. Even though it put me in a cold sweat and panic, I had the compelling need to investigate this story.”
The actress articulates further her thoughts about the film in the following interview.
Question: Can you talk about what drew you to the role of Lorraine Warren and the project in general?
Vera Farmiga: Pure flattery. Actors love playing super heroes. It appeals to their sense of importance and ego mania. This grabbed me the very same way. ’You want me to play a woman, the woman religious authorities across all denominations and faiths have called upon to control some of the most profane outbreaks of diabolical phenomena in America and abroad? A UCLA-validated clairvoyant? Light trance medium? A veritable expert of the dark wisdom of the ages? Little ol’ me? Y.E.S.’ Lorraine Warren is a real life super hero.
I suppose, also, I marvel at people who have concrete concepts of God. She has unwavering faith. Nothing disturbs her, frightens her. She believes patience and faith and compassion overcome all things diabolical, all things evil. It blows me away that for over 30 years Lorraine and Ed Warren selflessly dedicated their whole lives to the study, teaching, and investigation of spirit forces. And they never charged a single penny. I was drawn to her firm sense of purpose, her incredible empathy and concern for others. I was drawn to their partnership as husband and wife and best friends.
Q: What were the greatest challenges in playing her?
Farmiga: I am playing Lorraine Warren as of December 1970. I met the 80-something year-old Lorraine. I suppose the greatest challenges were to determine who the 30-something version of herself was. Many of my personal questions for Lorraine had to do with her vocational/maternal insecurities and fear and disappointments. I have a hard enough time doing what I do and balancing that with being the best mom and wife I can be. I wanted to know how she handled being a ghostbuster by night and a domestic ball-buster by day. [Laughs]
Q: What was it like to meet the real Lorraine? And what kind of effect did she have on you in finding your character for the film?
Farmiga: It felt like being in the presence of a shaman. A priest. Or a great pastor. Lorraine leaves an indelible impression. Her eyes bore into you; they are the most luminous dimensional marbles, full of love and goodness. It’s hard to look away. You know she sees in you your aura, your truest self. You want her to tell you about yourself, what you already know… and you want to tell her everything about yourself that she already knows…
Q: Can you talk about working with Patrick Wilson as Ed?
Farmiga: I saw in Patrick those quintessential Ed qualities. Patrick is salt of the earth; he’s natural; he has a super commanding presence. His sense of humor is humongous; it triggers groans and giggles alike. He has Ed’s modesty. He is an extremely positive, joyful human being. That is the biggest quality the Warrens possessed—their perception of life was anything but negative. They were so effective in their work because they are/were such positive people.
Q: I’ve heard some people had strange things happen on set. Considering the subject matter, what was the experience of making the film like for you?
Farmiga: My research was, quite honestly, not fun. Primarily it relied heavily on the nonfiction book, The Demonologist. Despite its popularity, I found the book was hard to acquire. It is unlike any book I have ever read. It’s a book about mystical theology. In it, one learns just how and why mystical phenomena occur. It scared the daylights out of me. Profoundly. The preface insists that it is not dangerous to read and that ‘knowledge is power.’ Whatever. I felt a sense of terror every time I cracked it open. I never read the book in the sanctity of my home. I could only read it in flight, funnily enough. Somehow i felt safeguarded in an airplane.
Once on set, I could relax a bit. However the weeks leading up to the shoot were eerie, traumatic, nerve-wracking; my imagination getting the better of me. Most nights still, I wake up at 3:07 am.
Q: James Wan has reinvented the haunted house movie, and knows how to scare audiences. Can you talk about working with him on the film? Is he a collaborative director?
Farmiga: If it weren’t for James’ fun-loving, easygoing, uber-cool nature, I would’ve walked away from such terrifying subject matter from the start. It’s his effortlessness, his goodness, his gentleness, his mastery of the genre, that persuaded me to come along and stay for the ride.
Q: What are your thoughts on the paranormal? Have you had any uncanny experiences?
Farmiga: Uncanny experiences? Uh, sure. I think I can fairly accurately determine the psychic imprints of a space when I walk into it. Most people can. Aside from that, too personal to discuss.
Q: What would you say audiences should expect from this movie?
Farmiga: Audiences should expect to be challenged spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I challenge anybody not to jump when they see the film. It will challenge their notions of life, death, God, Satan, good, evil, positive mysticism, negative mysticism, and their place on this planet.
Opening across the Philippines on August 21, “The Conjuring” is a New Line Cinema production and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.