American actress Taissa Farmiga stars in The Nun, the latest addition to The Conjuring horror series.
In an exclusive phone interview with MB Entertainment, the 24-year-old actress–who has gained fame through her multiple roles in American Horror Story–shares how she prepared for her role as Sister Irene, amongst other experiences while working on the film.
Set in 1952 Romania, the film tackles the investigation surrounding the mysterious death of a young nun.
Q: It seems that most of your projects after American Horror Story are more on the dark side. Was this a conscious effort or just a coincidence?
I would say that it was more of a coincidence. I am the kind of person who is drawn to materials that are emotional and a little bit dark. Those are just the kind of stuff I love to analyze, break down, and perform. But it was definitely more of a coincidence than a choice.
How is The Nun different from other horror films?
You know, I’m gonna be honest. I haven’t watched many horror films but I can say with the The Nun, it’s not just a scary film. Yes, you have the darkness, you have the tension, you have the suspense. But you also have wonderful actors in this film. It doesn’t matter what you want to experience if you watch it. The emotions of the characters will draw you in. I think in The Nun, you get the whole story. You get the whole package. It’s not only gonna scare the crap out of you. You will also have an emotional connection and it will mean so much more. So when you get scared, you get even more terrified because you care.
Can you describe your character in three words?
Okay, that’s exciting! I would say she’s kind. I would say she’s determined, and I would say she is faithful.
How did you prepare for your role? As a novice?
Sister Irene is a young woman on the pact to becoming a nun and I really wanted to incorporate into my performance what it actually takes to become one. So I spent hours researching online and I also watched The Nun’s Story where Audrey Hepburn starred in it. I found out there’s so many strict regulations you have to follow on a daily basis.
The life of a nun is a struggle for self-perfection. That means every minute of every day, you have to make sure that your thoughts are pure and your tone and posture are good. I really wanted to incorporate all these little things that a normal person wouldn’t think about on a daily basis into my performance.
So while Sister Irene is in the middle of battling being a nun, she’s also thinking about her posture. This battle for self-perfection is something that you can’t really ever win, so I have a lot of respect for the women that choose to live this life in the church.
So what was the most challenging part in filming this movie?
The most challenging part was probably the physical effort it took to film the stunts. While reading the script, you will realize there’s gonna be a lot of action, especially towards the end where we had to film in this giant water pit. You know, you’re in a harness, wearing a wetsuit and on top that, you have your wardrobe.
So I’m wearing like three layers of gowns and a habit, and my rosary. Then, I have this demon nun flying into my face, screaming, and dripping blood on me. It can be overwhelming to not only do the physical part but to also stay in the moment and be in character. But I have to say that when you’re filming with Bonnie Aarons, who’s in full demon makeup, she is terrifying. It makes it very easy to remember that you need to be scared.
Are you easily frightened in real life? Have you experienced something supernatural?
Yes, I get terrified very easily. I will admit that. Everybody knows.
So far, nothing weird or supernatural happened while filming The Nun but I chose to block myself. You know, shut myself off from the possibility of it.
But there was a time when I was filming American Horror Story (Coven) in New Orleans. The place holds so much history that you know there are ghosts lingering around. I never saw a ghost but we were filming a scene and I got home really late. There was no one else in the apartment, just me. I was falling asleep then all of a sudden, I was wide awake. I heard the floorboards creak, like someone was walking. I was sleeping on the left side of the bed. Then, it was like someone had grabbed the covers right by me. I could feel the covers moving. I screamed, jumped off, and turned the lights on. There was nothing there but I looked at the clock and it was around 3:09 AM.
I remember Vera (Farmiga) was doing research for the Conjuring 2 at this point and she had told me that witching hour was around 3 AM, so I panicked. That’s my supernatural experience. I didn’t see anything but I felt it and I turned the lights on for the rest of the night.
Since you mentioned you’re not a fan of horror movies, what movies do you usually watch?
I usually go for comedies. I like to watch comedies. I like to be happy, to feel light and to be able to laugh. Since the movies that I make are heavy and emotional dramas, I like to watch the opposite. I like the happier things.
What other film genres would you like to try?
That’s interesting. I don’t know if there’s a specific genre. I guess it would be fun to do a comedy one of these days. More like a character-driven comedy, not the slapstick comedy because I find that really difficult. You know, the type of comedy with characters that are just a little bit more extreme, a little bit more passionate about the things they care about. So I think of doing a character-driven comedy. I’ll try my hand at that.
THE NUN will be shown in Philippine cinemas nationwide on September 6.