After a chilling cameo in The Conjuring and getting her very own starring role in Annabelle moviegoers will now uncover where it all began. In Annabelle: Creation we get the tragic story of a couple, dollmaker and his wife, who lose their little girl in a lamentable accident. Several years later the couple welcome a nun and six girls from a round off shelter to their home. They soon become the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation; Annabelle.
Were you fans of horror movies before you got cast for this role?
Lulu Wilson: I definitely was, I think i’ve always loved horror movies. The genre is so cool because There’s so many genres piled into one. There’s a little bit of comedy, and obviously horror, and there’s some joy and sadness.
Talitha Bateman: I think I watched The Shining when I was six. My older brother showed it to me and ever since then I’ve been hooked.
Is there anything you do to mentally prepare yourself for the tough scenes?
Lulu Wilson: I usually map out the script and I find the spot and the areas where I am happy, where I’m sad, where I’m confused, where i’m terrified and I just section it off and prepare for them.
Talitha Bateman: I feel like sometimes I’ll prepare when I read the script and then when I get in the scene with Lulu Wilson, like the one on the couch, and originally when I read it I thought we’d be laughing. But honestly when we started filming we both started crying and I think that really made the scene because we fed off of each other and figure out how we were gonna do it. Really by being in the scene with one another.
Once you’re in the scene and they tell you ‘it’s coming for you’ where do you go for that inspiration to really get that look on your face to make it seem like you’re terrified?
Talitha Bateman: When David says ‘monster something’ I really feel it. Where we filmed, the setting of the house was actually creepy, and I could really feel like I was Janice while I was filming and I almost lost Talitha honestly because I wanted to get fully in character and I actually felt every emotion that Janice was feeling. Even if it was fear but at the same time trying to be rational. Like this can’t be real, this can’t be real, and so when we were filming with David it actually felt very real. I didn’t feel like I was acting.
Lulu Wilson: I, a lot of the times, try to use part of my creativity and imagination that I wouldn’t use unless I was in this setting. Most of the time it can be hard because I can back off a little bit. I can be like ‘no I don’t wanna go in there’ or not willing to go there but you have to be willing to go there. You have to be willing to take yourself to a place you don’t ever want to take yourself to.
Is there a part of each of your characters that you felt you connected with the most?
Lulu Wilson: I feel like I connected with the part that my character was the youngest, I’m the youngest in my house. I have two older sisters, and sometimes that’s hard because they’re closer in age than I am to them. So basically they’re forming these clicks and they’re better friends than I am to them. Sometimes that is hard for me but a lot of the times we get along.
Talitha Bateman: I actually feel like I connected to the vulnerability of Janice, because she’s very emotional and sensitive. I’m like that a little bit, other than that I don’t let people see it. I have walls up most of the time. But Janice, she actually feels that when the other girls pick on her it really hurts her feelings. She doesn’t let them see that as much, only Linda’s character really knows that. She’s very guarded most of the time even though it does hurt her. I feel like I connected with that.
Janice’s character had to wear a brace, how distracting was it at first? Did you have to practice a whole lot with it to get the movement right? What was the process in preparing that for your character?
Talitha Bateman: I found out two weeks before filming that I had a leg brace and that’s when I actually started walking around limping around really with a cane. I limped at the house, in grocery stores because I tried not to use my other leg but I caught myself using it most of the time. I tried really hard not to use it because I wanted to feel what Janice was feeling because I feel like relatively recently she got Polio. Most of the time she grew up being able to run around with the other girls and so I think that is what hurts her the most. Because she can’t walk around with them or explore the house. So she just has to sit in one room and I tried to really feel that for the character by not moving as much and just trying not to use this leg. It really helped having the brace on set because it was hard to move.
What’s your favorite scene in the film?
Lulu Wilson: My favorite scene was probably the well scene, because there was so many different things that were happening. It takes place at night and I got to stay up really late that night. I could really feel the suspense and the fear that Linda was feeling. Wells itself, just thinking about them gives me chills, it’s a scary concept, and thinking about connecting them with ghosts and demons gives me even more chills. I feel like that was one of my favorites.
Talitha Bateman: One of my favorites is when we’re all outside just sitting in the sun because we were all with the girls that day and that was just a blast to film because we were all just hanging out. It was one of the happier moments I feel like in the film, and there’s not many. I was more horrified throughout the whole project so I feel like that’s one of my favorites because we actually all got to be together in a scene, got to smile and laugh. I thought that was cool.
Any advice for young women your age who want to pursue their dreams?
Talitha Bateman: I just feel like some people don’t appreciate them as equals as much and they get so caught up in the future with what they want to do, mini goals, we accomplish so much but we’re thinking about the future so much that we’re not even thinking how far we’ve come or how much we’ve accomplished. I think people, they’ve come so far, that they don’t think about where they are now, they’re just like ‘I have to do better, I have to do better’ but really you’re doing so well now. I feel like people should take a min and appreciate how far they’ve come honestly and just where they are. I’m in Hollywood, I’m lucky enough to even life here, not somewhere where I don’t get to eat. I think people should appreciate how blessed they are. I don’t even think some people realize that.
Lulu Wilson: I feel like all the girls are at an advantage, not a disadvantage being a girl, because girls can run faster than boys, girls can do anything, really anything! It doesn’t matter at all and I hate it when people get caught up like ‘oh you can’t play football because you’re a girl.’ That the thing that really makes me angry because at school I’m always like ‘hey can I play with you guys?’ and my gym teacher is like ‘no, no you play volleyball with the girls’ and I’m like no, I’m not doing that! I’m gonna go tell the teacher right now that you’re saying this and I’m gonna play football with the guys. I actually did end up playing football, it was awesome. I was just running around and didn’t know what I was doing, but it was so much fun. You’re strong, you can be strong no matter what. Physically and mentally you can be strong.
Why do you think dolls are so scary in a movie?
Lulu Wilson: I feel like it may be because it’s a little girls thing. And now a days in horror movies usually the little girl is the evil one. The little girl is the person killing everybody and haunting everybody so I feel like it ties into the whole creepy universe.
Talitha Bateman: I feel like it’s so unexpected. I mean they’re dolls, inanimate objects you wouldn’t expect them to be so demonic and they look angelic actually. The look beautiful and pretty and everyone wants to play with them but what they don’t know is that they’re evil and that they’re going to kill you. So I think for me that is what freaks me out it’s the unknowing mostly.
How do you balance your time on set with school?
Lulu Wilson: We do school on set so we don’t fall behind, sometimes that is the problem, you do fall behind because you’re not there present with the teacher who’s giving the lessons. You’re actual teacher, not a studio teacher, not someone that you’re not familiar within you don’t really know their teaching ways or what they’re used to doing. So that’s really hard but sometimes it’s easier because it’s one on one. We were shooting during the summer so we didn’t have school, but a lot of the times when you’re on set it’s not the summer and you have to be doing schooling but if it’s one on one it gets pretty easy because you have the teacher all to yourself and you can ask as many questions as you want.
Talitha Bateman: I’m actually home schooled too so I don’t go to regular school. It’s basically the same for me on set. Do four hours of school at home but three hours on set. I’ll have my mom watching over me and I take online courses so it’s actually the same for me when I’m on set filming. It’s the exact same except I have a studio teacher instead. They manage it pretty well. You get three hours of school, then you get lunch, and you get a specific amount of time for filing and it’s actually pretty easy. I’ve never fallen behind yet, thank goodness, I feel like they’re actually really good about that. Specifically take time out of the day to get school done because they don’t want you to fall behind. It’s really important that you get a good grade, a good college degree, so for me it’s the exact same on set.
Aside from school work what did you learn on set and your roles?
Talitha Bateman: I learned a lot from this character, not only from the people I’ve been blessed to work with, like Lulu Wilson, I learned a lot from her.
Lulu Wilson: Thank you!
Talitha Bateman: She taught me how to play Uno, and Stephanie Sigman, I’ve just worked with really brilliant people and I just feel pretty blessed to work with them. But with Polio, I had heard of it but I never researched it. And now I feel like I’ve actually been through that. So I think that’s definitely what I’ve learned throughout the project.
Lulu Wilson: I feel like I learned from the cast, especially you ( leans toward Talitha) but the director also taught me that actions speak louder than words. A lot of the times directors focus on what you’re saying more than what you’re actually doing. And he was more of the opposite, he was focused more on my actions and what I was doing and I admire that. I admire that so much because I thought it was something new, something different, it was refreshing and awesome. You don’t have to say something to lure someone to some place. You do something. And that is also connected to the doll because the doll doesn’t talk. But the doll lures you into places. The doll makes you think that something is going to happen. The doll is terrifying.
What do you hope people take from this film?
Lulu Wilson: Girl power. The cast is mostly female and everyone is a strong female character. They’re all fighting, not just one of them or two, all of them are fighting for their lives, for their little family really. One thing that I also observed is that sometimes in movies when two girls are best friends a lot of the time they’re fighting or bickering or being mean to each other. But in this movie it’s completely different. The complete opposite, they’re being nice to each other, supporting each other. They’re almost like sisters and I just really like that. It’s new and it’s really nice.
Talitha Bateman: None of them are related but they have developed a sibling bond and they’re all really close and they’ve all supported each other throughout this whole film and they go through this crazy experience and they’re their for each other. All of it, even though some of them can be mean at times but they really do love each other and they are family even though they’re not related by blood, they’re related by their experiences.
Linda’s character was fearless in the sense she wanted to save Janice no matter what, she stood out more than the other girls.
Lulu Wilson: Thank you, I can actually really connect to that because a lot of the times in school when my friends are being picked on I try to save them. I don’t just stand there and do nothing. I’m not afraid to intervene and get into the situation. I always say something and I always stop them and I feel like that’s exactly what Linda was trying to do with Janice.
Besides playing Uno what other ways did you bond to create chemistry between the both of you?
Talitha Bateman: We hung out between scenes, during lunch breaks, we had our rooms across right next to each other. We didn’t have trailers because we filmed on the Warner Brothers lot so we had rooms that were right across from each other and we just hung out.
Lulu Wilson: Also when we met each other in the table read, we just formed a bond.
Talitha Bateman: We really clicked.
Lulu Wilson: It was weird, right when I saw her I was like ‘okay you’re different, we’re gonna be friends’
Talitha Bateman: We’re gonna be friends, yeah!
How long did it take in the makeup chair when you had to shoot the scenes with the mask?
Miranda Otto: I’m trying to remember the day, don’t want to give too many spoilers, the day that we also had the arm and all this other makeup, that took a long time. I think it took 3-4 hours, but this piece (touches her face) about 2 hours.
Anthony LaPaglia: Took an hour to take it off at least.
Miranda Otto: Yeah, it took a while to take it off. But we only had to put it on two or three days. A lot of the time when we had the mask we didn’t do it underneath.
Anthony LaPaglia: (Takes in breath mockingly in shock) Don’t tell people that! Tell them that it was under there the whole time.
Miranda Otto: It was there everyday!
What was the challenge in playing a role where you had to emote so much without the visual or physical cues?
Miranda Otto: At first it felt like playing the shark in Jaws, because you’re talked about, but the door closes before they get to you or you’re behind something and you’re just this mysterious thing. Which I think is kind of like a gift to play as an actor. I could really just play more of these roles, just a voice behind a curtain.
Anthony LaPaglia: Oh! anything laying down for me! Do a whole movie laying down. Get paid for this? Sure!
Miranda Otto: It was just fun the idea that these kids had made a whole story, they turned her into this character in their minds but the story, her real story is completely different to that. The whole reveal of what the real story is, that was the toughest part of the character for me. The back story was really fun, shooting all the stuff with the kid at the house. That was all really sweet. That’s setting up this world of sunshine and happiness and destroying it.
Anthony LaPaglia: Soon as I see that in any film where any likable character in the first 20 minutes, they’re dead and this is gonna go bad.
Miranda Otto: It was really challenging even in the bed the physicality, the idea that I couldn’t walk, then how much would I be able to move my legs. How much could I move around to express things.
Where you familiar with The Conjuring universe before you took the role?
Miranda Otto: I had seen The Conjuring some time before but then I watched Annabelle just before I met David Sandberg because I wanted to know more about the first movie. I’m more familiar with Annabelle than The Conjuring since I wasn’t watching it from that perspective.
Anthony LaPaglia: I didn’t see the first Annabelle until after I did the film. I just wanted to bring my own perspective to it. But I had seen The Conjuring, is it based on Amityville Horror movie?
I don’t think so.
Anthony LaPaglia: It feels a lot like it.
Miranda Otto: That’s a real couple.
It’s based on a real couple but it’s not the same story.
Anthony LaPaglia: I wasn’t sure they were tied together or not. It felt similar in some ways. There was a very familiar theme in there, with the house being possessed and the stuff that went on in there. But I’ve only seen the conjuring, which I liked a lot. It’s not my genre particularly in life, horror films, not really that into it, but I hadn’t done a straight our horror genre before. So that was interesting, going up for a new challenge.
What was it like working with David F. Sandberg?
Anthony LaPaglia: I loved it, and I’m not just saying that either. He’s like this guy from Sweden, who did a 2-min short film Lights Out, then boom! he’s doing the feature, then boom! he’s doing Annabelle. He’s not flustered by anything, there’s no pressure on him because he didn’t even know what that kind of pressure was. And I said to him at a certain point in the film ‘God I hope you stay this way, don’t get jaded’ and now he’s doing Shazam. Talk about skyrocket this guy. But a really lovely man. He’s very talented.
Miranda Otto: He’s got the right character to be in this job. From the moment I met him he made me feel really safe. And I felt like I could work with him on something like this. I felt like I would trust his taste, his choices, and I would trust that he wasn’t going to be a director that was going to scream at me.
Do you believe in paranormal activity?
Anthony LaPaglia: No, no science to back it up.
Miranda Otto: I wouldn’t say paranormal activity. I do believe in, I do get premonitions of things that are gonna happen. I do dream about things and then they happen so I do believe…
Anthony LaPaglia: What am I doing tomorrow?
Anthony LaPaglia: It’s gonna be a pretty God day tomorrow I tell ya!
What was it like playing a remorseful couple that is so tapped into evil?
Anthony LaPaglia: For me I wanted to walk this fine line the stuff that you’re talking about, being a brief parent, and just slightly being creepy at times and is he involved with this somehow? Is he the one that likes scaring the girls. I wanted to have moments like that in there. It doesn’t sound that complex but it is when you’re shooting it for a long period of time. After you remember where you are, in terms of the lineage of the script. So I always like to check with myself where I’m at today, can I scare them today.
Was he really trying to scare them?
Anthony LaPaglia: The underlying truth is that he didn’t want them there. She wanted them there, and I did it for her. Because of the history we have, we lost our child, and I was imagining the conversation of like her bringing it up and me saying no. For all the reasons that happened. I give in because of my own backstory.
Miranda Otto: It’s like the whole house has been shut down and I think it’s time to open up again, we need to let the light in.
Anthony LaPaglia: You miss your daughter so much you just want to hear the sound of kids. So he reluctantly, that is what’s really going on. He’s not trying to scare them. He’s afraid for them, and he doesn’t want them in there because he knows what is in the house.
The passing of the notes, did anyone start passing them on set?
Anthony LaPaglia: No, I would finish shooting and I would go straight back to my room, because I didn’t want to get too familiar with the girls. So I could maintain that kind of ‘who the hell is this guy’ kind of thing which worked. Now that we’re doing press they’re like ‘oh you’re alright, you looked creepy before, but you’re good now.’
It’s funny how that was intentional because it really comes across on the screen.
Anthony LaPaglia: It was intentional, they’re good enough actresses to over come it for sure. but I just felt like it’s another layer I don’t have to act and they don’t have to act. It worked well. Sometimes I would see everybody have a good time over there and be like ‘I’d like to join in but i’m not gonna.’
What is something that your character portrays that the audience might not understand?
Miranda Otto: How people judge from the outside and they think they know who somebody is and her story is very much different. The humanity of her story is actually interesting but I love that the kids automatically think that when someone is away in a room or something like that there’s something creepy about them. They’re evil or they want to entertain those kinds of fantasies. It’s exciting for kids to do that.
Anthony LaPaglia: I did that when I was a kid with my neighbors. They were slightly off and creepy.
Miranda Otto: It’s true, when I was a kid we’d have backstories for the older people in the neighborhood. So the message to me was the humanity of the character and that you know if you actually get to know somebody’s story you get to understand them.
Anthony LaPaglia: I don’t know if you noticed but it was a very girl power in this movie.
Yes we noticed.
Anthony LaPaglia: There’s only two males in it, me and the priest. The girls are great in it, they’re really, really good. Very impressive actually, when you do an actual scene with them. They so got it together, I still don’t have it that together. And they’re like ‘ready, let’s go,’ they’re pros. Lulu and Talitha, it’s like watching Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. When we were doing Comic Con we were like ‘these aren’t kids! they’re not, they’re like 30 something.’ They’re battling actresses. They’re so savvy, I mean I wasn’t that say when I was 30 in the business.
What was the most challenging point to film?
Anthony LaPaglia: The scene with the crucifix and the fingers snap. That was the only scene where I was like ‘how the hell am I gonna do this?’ because there is no evil entity there so i’m gonna have to make this up and is it gonna be too over the top or not. So we did it, I did it twice I think. In the first time I was like meh, and in the second time I was like blown out of the shot and I split my pants and I remember getting up from that and looking at the camera guy and then going ‘this is not a dignified way for an adult man to make a living’ so that was my most challenging part of the movie.
Why do you think kids are so scary in horror movies?
Miranda Otto: Because they’re open, their innocence. In one way it’s scary because you’re worried that something is going to happen to them because you feel protective of them as kids. But also they’re very open to any presence.
Anthony LaPaglia: When Janice goes evil I think this child is exhibiting very adult behavior and that’s a bit shocking to see them metamorphosis to this demon. I think she did an amazing job. Good Janice, bad Janice. Her transition into bad Janice is like a bit unsettling. If I was asleep she could stab me in the back. I really don’t know, she has that capacity, that’s what it felt like. We tend to perceive kids at that age, before they become teenagers, we tend to perceived them as innocence. Not capable of that kind of violence or evil.
What was it like watching the effects of what happens to your bodies?
Anthony LaPaglia: Relief! it was good.
Miranda Otto: I just thought it looked great. They did such a great job with the cinematography, I was impressed. The whole texture of the movie and to see everything come together was exciting.
If you want to be more than excited this summer you need to check out Annabelle: Creation in theaters Friday, August, 11, 2017.