The Conjuring 2 Set Visit Report: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Frances O’Connor; New Photo!


We are on a soundstage in Santa Clarita, California, watching as a man-made basement floods and drains as needed… it’s distressed, dark, wet, and presumably not entirely pleasant for today’s main players, Patrick Wilson and Frances O’Connor, as they slosh through the paranormal waves.

Wilson is reprising his role of demon-hunter Ed Warren for the much-anticipated The Conjuring 2, as is Vera Farmiga, as his wife and medium-clairvoyant, Lorraine. O’Connor has joined the cast as Peggy Hodgson, one of the bedeviled victims in the real-life Enfield Haunting, which took place in England in the 1970s.

In this soaking scene, Ed is trying to help Peggy get away from an entity known as “Old Bob.” He is a malevolent presence who likes to bite the living with his dirty dentures. As the scene progresses, we see the crew making different levels of water to adjust to the timing of the scene, and we learn that (thankfully!) the H2O is constantly cleaned and warmed for the actors who are slogging around in there.

Between setups we get a few interviews, then watch as Vera comes in just to shout lines, not on camera, from the other side of the door to Patrick. That’s dedication!

Director James Wan says hello but does no interviews. He tells us the production will next be shooting in England, where the actual case took place. But not in the dwelling itself because, like the Amityville house, the current owners want nothing to do with the haunted history of their home.

We want everything to do with the haunted history… so, read on to see what actors Wilson, O’Connor, and Farmiga have to say about this chilling follow-up to The Conjuring along with a new still.  We’ll be back tomorrow with producers Peter Safran and Rob Cowan and another image.

First we’ll hear from Patrick Wilson:

Dread Central: So, what is different this time around with the Warrens?

Patrick Wilson: I think overall we’ve pushed… I say “we,” but really James and the writers have pushed things. A lot of those character defining moments in the first one, the questioning of the career, questioning of Lorraine’s involvement, Ed’s skepticism… like in the first one with the creaking in the attic, and he’s the first one to say, “This is not something paranormal.” We have a lot of those moments where we just really push them. I confront a guy who’s a non-believer. A lot of those things that, for me, even some of the humor, sort of sweet moments to Lorraine… I think there’s some of the stuff for me that made the first transcend a horror film… for me as an actor, it was the great characters that they created. We just took that even further.

DC: When you’re playing characters that are based on real people and real life events, is there a different responsibility that you have as an actor versus playing somebody totally fictional?

PW: I think so. I think you have to pick and choose. I knew when I took the job I don’t look anything like Ed. I had to sort of say, “Okay, you have to pick and choose what is most important to tell the story.” The reality is most people don’t really know what he looked like in the 70s. It’s not like De Niro playing Capone or something where we’re so used to knowing what the person looks like. Physically we kind of made our own version of him. That being said, he spoke in a very blue collar, Connecticut, very direct kind of guy way. I took a lot of audio tapes and could mimic as much as sounded right for the film. Both Vera and I did that. It was kind of judging like, “Eh, it’s too much.” You know… “Hey, it’s Patrick Wilson with sideburns.” It was supposed to be a theme anyway.

There’s always responsibility, especially something like this because he was such a very passionate person, and you never want to judge your character anyway, but surely there’s a devout Catholic who believes in this stuff very deeply. It’s what I do. You know what I mean? There’s no sense of, “What? Come on, guys.” You can’t do that when you play these guys… otherwise, you couldn’t pull off holding a cross and telling someone to go back to hell. You’ve got to believe it… [In] some of the recordings that I have from the actual Enfield when they were over there, he was so matter-of-fact when he spoke to these demons; it was so great. It wasn’t any great “DEMON!!!” It was like, “Fred! Get out of here.” It was kind of great. It was kind of like, “All right, I want you to leave this family alone.” I guess it’s what you do. Sort of sugarcoat it.

DC: I’m just curious… how many of those tapes were there?

PW: I got a lot. There are a handful online. There’s a lot of talk-backs and TV show appearances. There’s a great Sally Jessy Raphael episode in there. There’s a lot there and with Tony Spiro, Lorraine’s son-in-law. Ed was really his mentor, and so he is sort of rebooting everything and getting it going again, [so] he gave me even more this time. A lot of cassettes and sort of just recordings. Recordings of phone calls that they had and the Enfield recordings. We’ve got a whole CD of the Enfield House, which is pretty great.

DC: What is one of the most harrowing things you’ve had to go through in character?

PW: Yeah… it’s quite in character. Without giving too much away, even within like I said, the character beats that we pushed, we’ve pushed a lot of the physicality, a lot of the stunts even. When you think of one of those unbelievable shots in the first one… [here] there were three stunts, two stunt people, two stunt women, and one of the actresses is in that same shot where she gets ripped across the room, flies out of the window, goes down, and she’s dragging. I don’t know if you see now, he [director Wan] likes everything very practical so that the effects department doesn’t have to do a lot in post. With that, there’s a lot. I’ve done quite a bit. We can’t retread the same thing. I can’t just be there with a Bible at the end giving an exorcism. I think there are certain rituals that he did, but obviously every case is different. You have to fight them in different ways.

DC: What are the ghosts like in this one? Are they more malevolent than even in the first one?

PW: Yeah, it’s a different beast. Literally. There’s some different… it’s a different entity. It’s a different case. It’s not handled the same way. I think that’s one thing I really loved about this. It’s not one specific person that we’re trying to [help]… It was a very concrete image for them, a very physical villain. This is sort of sifting through all of that, and there’s a lot more going on.

DC: There’s a lot of skepticism out there, obviously, of Lorraine and Ed. I wonder if you believe them and, whether or not you believe them, if that colors how you portray him?

PW: Well, it doesn’t. It was kind of what I was saying before. It doesn’t at all because it’s… I think about… not to derail for a second, but I remember seeing a documentary… called A Walk on the Moon, I think, several years ago. I saw Buzz Aldrin at a premiere. There was Buzz Aldrin and some other astronauts that were on that stage, and somebody brought this question up, saying, “Come on, there’s a real pretty concrete conspiracy theory that said it was done on stage.” And Buzz Aldrin got so angry and passionate and said, “You cannot tell me I did not go on the moon!” That’s kind of the way that I feel about Ed. That’s what he believes in.

DC: So you believe that he believes it?

PW: That’s what I believe. Have I ever had that experience? Have I ever seen any of this? No. I’m not a big [supernatural person]; I’m not a devout Catholic. I grew up as an Episcopalian. We don’t talk about the devil a lot. My own personal feelings, I don’t like to dig into this…  I think the biggest difference between me and Ed is he was very much into demonology and the dark side. That’s a big difference. When I’m him, I’m in it hook, line, and sinker; and I believe because I have to think like him on a lot of things.

I think it’s the same on the flip side. If someone believes that they were healed… of course barring any sort of preacher that’s winning one over you, but if someone really feels like God saved them and whatever that means to them, they’re a better person for it, I don’t know how you argue, for me. I sort of have to look at it like that, and I really try desperately not to judge it because it is a crazy world and I’m not that kind of person. I’m not big into ghost hunting and all that. [But] I’ve had some very [strange experiences]. Even my wife has. Two weeks ago she had a very, very strange experience. This is going to be great. You’re going to love this. She had a very strange experience where my dog recently passed away and we had her ashes on the old bureau and my wife and her sister were sitting on the couch, going through pictures looking at the dog. We’re still sort of dealing with this. I have two little kids and still dealing with the loss of the family pet, and just as my wife looks over and is sort of thinking about the dog and her sister said, “She’s right over there,” trying to make light of it like, “She is, in a box,” and they look over and a door that is always locked, you have to take a key to unlock it on the bureau, just goes “hhhhhh” and opens right above the box. Isn’t that crazy? So something like that happens. You take little kernels of that, and that’s how I’m able to get into this and do that because I’ve had one of those experiences where I can’t explain it, don’t need to think about it, or it doesn’t really freak me out.  It just means, “Okay, maybe there’s something else,” or it’s an energy or whatever going on. That’s how I tap into his passion for this.

DC: We talked about how in the first Conjuring movie, your character is a little more skeptical. When we meet him in this movie, where do they stand on this particular case? Are they skeptical, or do they believe it?

PW: I think they walk in there wanting to help. Without giving too much away, Ed is skeptical, and then once the priest says no… Ed is always going to Lorraine like, “What are you feeling?” because he knows he’s not that guy that feels something strange. He’s like, “I’m going to see what’s real; I’m going to support, but I’m not clairvoyant,” and he never claimed to be. They were there to help. I don’t think that they’re going to fly over there to England, that they’re going to go that length if they don’t think there’s something real. If you read all the history about it, it’s the most documented case around. They tried really, really hard, and I think you only do that when you really care. I tried to believe that as I’m playing them because it was a long, long process and any of those sort of skeptics and doubters, when I saw those two women here… When Jen and Margaret were here, it was a much different experience than the Perron girls when we met them and they’re women because Jen and Margaret were still very much in it in a strange way. You see how it really took a toll on them and the feeling that they had for… because Lorraine was here, too, that time [and] was very open. They hugged each other tight; you could tell that whatever your skepticism is, whether you believe in this or not, there were two young people that one older woman desperately tried to help, and that’s huge. That’s enough for me to go, “They were in it for the right reasons.” It’s not like, “Oh, we’re making a ton of money out of this family.” It’s not that at all, and I’d be the first to say, “Wow, they look like they’re over it and good to go.” You could tell it’s worn on them.

DC: In between Conjurings, James Wan did this huge action movie…

PW: Which one? [laughter]

DC: …Have you seen him change as a director at all?

PW: No. I mean this is, what, our fourth movie together? I don’t even know what to say creatively or something snappy to say. He’s not. He lives, breathes, eats this. It takes a toll on him. He sleeps basically only on the weekends. His schedule is crazy, and he puts everything he has into it. Even if he felt like he could just walk through a movie and be like, “Ugh, I’ve done a huge one, let’s go… I’ll just hammer this one out,” he’ll be the first to tell you, “This is harder than I expected.” When I sat down with him like a year ago, when he decided to come on, he said, “I really want to make it great.” He just burns for this. When you have that passion, it doesn’t matter sort of what genre, and I’ve always said, I said even before he did Furious, the way he sets up his horror movies and his scares is the same way that you set up an action movie with the set pieces. It’s the same; we’re going to have this amount of action sequences so this sort of can build them and block them. That’s the same way he does with the scares having a kind of this page or whatever it is that he does. He’s very methodical like that.

DC: When you mentioned how he does a lot of the stunts, everything is very authentic with James. We see you getting soaking wet on this set. How does that affect your performance?

PW: I’ve been really lucky, even on Watchmen. My whole storyline, there wasn’t a lot of CGI. I haven’t really had to deal with a lot of that so I’ve been lucky. I think once you can get over having a camera just right in your face, then acting to a dot or in front of a green screen, in a strange way, pales in comparison. I think that’s the biggest hurdle – to be completely natural. I’ve been real fortunate that I haven’t had any of those crazy CGI sort of films.

DC: I’m curious… during the research for this, did you learn anything new about Ed that maybe you didn’t know during the first movie that kind of impacted how you portrayed him?

PW: That’s interesting. What’s a new little nugget of Ed? What I saw this time around, because it’s referenced in the book… there’s a couple interviews that are on YouTube that sort of made their way into the film, [and] I think his passion and his defense was something that I don’t think I saw before. There are a couple moments in the first movie where I was a skeptic, but I don’t think I ever, even when talking to people, noticed he was a little more calm and collected in the earlier years. I think if anything, he let it go a few times. I wouldn’t say he was angry, but he certainly was not afraid to stand up to anybody, and that’s something that maybe I, we, didn’t really have those moments so it’s not like I look back and go, “Oh, I should’ve played it that way,” but I’m glad I found out a lot about that now. I’m glad I could sort of dig into his guts a little more because we got a few of those moments where you’re like, “Oh, don’t mess with Ed,” which is nice.


Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren in New Line Cinema’s supernatural thriller THE CONJURING 2, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Matt Kennedy,

Next up is newcomer to the franchise, Frances O’Connor:

Dread Central: What can you tell us about this character?

Frances O’Connor: Peggy Hodgson is based on a real person. In the story, she’s a single mom who’s got four kids, and her husband left her for another woman. She’s trying to raise these kids. It’s quite a stressful situation. She really has just given up everything to keep her kids happy and keep it all on the rails in this suburban London place. She’s got quite a tough life.

DC: Did the house have some history before she and the family moved in?

FC: It actually was a council house in real life, which they were kind of assigned to. They’re very poor, so when there’s activity, they can’t afford to move. They just have to make the most of it, and that’s what really happened.

DC: We’ve been told it is Britain’s Amityville. Was the story familiar to you?

FC: Yeah, I kind of heard of it 10 or 15 years ago. I wasn’t very aware of the story. It’s not the same as Amityville.

DC: Did you see The Conjuring?

FC: I did, yeah. I don’t like a lot of horror films, but a friend of mine said, “No, I think you’ll like this one. It’s not very gory.” I did like it. I think it’s a really well made film. James is just a fantastic filmmaker. He did such a good job on the first film. He’s really good at relationships, too.

DC: You’ve worked with some of the best filmmakers of all time. What distinguishes James Wan as a director?

FC: I think he just loves film. He doesn’t just love this genre, but many kinds of genres. He knows what he wants in a scene and already knows how he’s going to edit it. When I worked with Steven Spielberg, he had that same thing: editing in his head as he’s going. James has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for what he’s doing, and that’s a nice environment to be around. He’s great with actors, too, in terms of getting great performances. There are four kids in this film, and he’s done a great job at getting their performances very specific.

DC: Stepping into a role where there’s so much folklore around it, kind of like growing up knowing about The Amityville Horror, that would be interesting for me because it’s so familiar. How did you, as an actress, kind of feel your way around that?

FC: For me, I always found it a terrifying case. When you look at some of the images of the kids levitating… they have documented pictures, whether you believe them or not is another matter. It’s slightly daunting playing a real person, but playing a real person with someone involved in something so scary also makes it terrifying. That was actually more in researching it, because when you’re in the film and working on it, it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s a really great crew and lovely actors.

DC: During the research were there any details that you picked up on that stuck with you during the shooting which you keep in mind? Maybe about the family or just the events?

FC: Before I came out here from London, I actually went up to Enfield and went up to the house just to have a look at the house and that whole neighborhood. That was good to be there, to be on the actual street and stand next to the house and look up and go, “Wow! This is real; this existed.” I walked around the neighborhood of that area and just listened to people talking and just sat in a cafe to get a feel of how people talked and the vibe. It’s changed a lot.

DC: Did you try to go inside the house?

FC: I didn’t. I didn’t want to, and actually the real Janet and Margaret came on set and they asked if I would like to meet them. I just felt weird meeting them since I’m playing their mom. So I didn’t meet them, but I will once I’m finished filming. I also had a busy day when I was on set too. I didn’t want to meet them at this point but I will after and they can tell me if I got it right.

DC: You guys are two thirds of the way in, and we were talking to the producers about the child actors and what it takes them to be genuinely terrified.  I’m wondering if you had any scenes with them while they are terrified, and what is it like as an adult to work with that?

FC: Yeah, well I think they actually enjoy the bits that are super scary. I think they enjoy being scared in those sections. James is really good at talking them through to get them to that point of what would it be like if this was real. There is this scene where we walk in and I tell the kids to get to bed and they are freaking out because of all this activity going on. Then this cupboard goes crazy, which it did because they rigged it where you couldn’t see the wires, and it slammed across the room and into the door so we couldn’t get out, and we all yelled. It was great; it was the first time I got the feeling of… what it would be like if this was really happening. That feeling of something really big being moved by itself. That kind of stuff is great to react off of, and the kids really liked it. But they all giggled after the takes.

DC: How has it been coming on as the new lead adult since Vera and Patrick have already established a relationship?

FC: I’ve actually worked with Vera before [in 2004 TV movie “Iron Jawed Angels”], and she’s such a lovely person and a fantastic actress. And Patrick is just easy to work with; they’re just very genuine people. I think that comes across on screen, they’re really lovely to work with and fun so it’s been easy actually.

We’ll close things out today with the aforementioned Ms. Farmiga, who is indeed always lovely to chat with. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our The Conjuring 2 set visit report.

Dread Central: What’s it like to be back to The Conjuring, and with Patrick Wilson?

Vera Farmiga: I’m very, very happy. I knew it was gonna be a blast because I just adore him. I love working with this guy. It’s just a party, and we blow through it… it’s just various dark things we’re considering, but the fact is there’s so much joy working with him. I was looking forward to it, but even more so with James [Wan]. It’s just masterful what he’s doing. He knows the script, and to see how it tweaks it and how he puts his spin on it is just wonderful. It’s just a good fit. The three of us are a very good fit, and so yeah, I’m thrilled.

DC: We saw that you came all the way to set today to feed Patrick his lines, and you’re not even on camera. Is that the usual for you guys?

VF: I’ve already sat down my part of the scene. I did the reverse two days ago at Warner Brothers on the set. It helps the actor. I know it certainly did for me. It always does. I had him come in the other day just for a brief eyeline. He was supposed to be… I don’t know how much I’m supposed to divulge about certain things, but anyway… I needed him as an eyeline. There’s something that happens when I look at him. You know, we’re very good friends. I’m very good friends with his wife. Our families are very close. There’s something so different about looking at him, and there’s something effortless that happens. So there I am, looking at my close-up. We try to do that for each other. And when you can’t, you can’t; you just have to work harder.

DC: Does Lorraine Warren have an emotional arc from the first movie to this one?

VF: I think so. I think the older she got… the more depleted she became. It’s spiritual warfare we’re talking about, you know? It takes a toll on you physically, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually… it’s draining, and we continue with this thing that she saw and explore what that is. It still plagues her, so yeah, you will see an unravelment with Lorraine. It never got easier with her. This kind of work never gets easier. Her instrument’s fine-tuned, but it takes a beating. She needs these tune-ups, and just a break, and obviously she never got one. Lorraine [is] so plagued. Even to this day, when I go to her house, she won’t go downstairs. She won’t go to the artifact room. I mean, why have it in your house to begin with is my question, but she won’t. She’s very haunted by all of this – and, I think, her daughter even more so. Her daughter’s very skittish when it comes to this kind of stuff. You will see that. It will continue to be an emotional roller coaster for Lorraine because that’s just the nature of her business.

DC: Her 70s costumes were so awesome in the first movie. Is there as much attention to her style in The Conjuring 2?

VF: It’s a little later. You’re seeing, too, a costume that had to go through a lot of [duplication]. This is one of the only costumes that Kristin Burke, our costumer, had to design. She pulled a lot of authentic things for singular scenes. This is a costume that will sort of take a bashing in a variety of scenes towards the end. I’m sure she hit some the old McCall’s and Vogue and Butterick patterns of the late 70s. I love that too, and I appreciate that so much about her. I remember choosing that, and I remember wanting so badly to do some of her signature, which is her tartan skirts, her velvet suit jackets, and her lace blouses with these mad, wonderful up-dos. I remember her seeming sort of resistant and saying, “Oh, we really don’t want [the audience to be] swayed by her eccentricity.” But that’s who she is! I said, “She needs to come to set!” Lorraine came in the next day, wearing a red tartan, a black velvet jacket, and Victorian boots. God, I think from the outside-in, she had to button up from the outside. She was such a wreck on the inside, and she’s so sensitive. She’s like, as long as her appearance [seemed put-together], then she was put-together. It was part of her coping mechanism. She was always very fashion-conscious. She was always very genteel, very put-together. Never as rattled as the inside.

DC: How did Lorraine respond to the skepticism about what she and Ed did in all those famous cases?

VF: I don’t know. None of that made a dent into what she knows and has a conviction of. Her gift. And I’m gonna come from a very Roman Catholic perspective because that’s what she’s coming from. She has full-blown conviction that this is an ordained position, that each of us have gifts, and if you don’t utilize them, they whittle away. And this is her gift of sight. And if you go cross-denomination and cross-faith, whether you call it clairvoyancy, whether you call it foresight, whether you call it precognition, prophecy, a soothsayer, you know, I think it’s the physical danger that she was in, and Ed was in at all times. You know, I have these tapes in my trailer of the actual recorded sessions, and these voices you hear… at times it’s actually quite lighthearted and corny. They call Ed names and make fun of him; they have a sense of humor. It’s so funny. I think their actual lives were in danger. [They were] getting thrown around.

I mean, it’s hard to say because, to a degree, yes, we’re friends, but she’s older now, and her memory is not as keen. A lot of times when I’m talking to Lorraine, it’s just about perennials and what annual flowers she’s planted in the front garden and wigs or not wigs and where do I get my wigs for Norma Bates, and you know… This is the stuff that she and I spend time talking about. Sharing meatball recipes and stuff like that. I really rely on the reading material. It’s anguish. I know, in the stuff that I’ve read – and, again, whether it’s madness, whether it’s negative mysticism that gets a hold of someone – it is sheer spiritual anguish to feel that on behalf of someone. She feels. It plays on her emotions, on her body. She feels it physically. She was never afraid of the human. She was afraid of the inhuman. I just saw one of the episodes on Sally Jessy Raphael where they received a bunch of skepticism. If you look at her, she never lost her cool. Ed lost his cool quite a bit. I think she was just so secure in her gift. I think there’s a reason she was the go-to medium for decades. She was the one police called. I don’t think she had anything to prove to anyone, but to whatever entity was in the room.

DC: So, Lorraine has changed over the years?

VF: She has and she hasn’t. I think she just became more of herself, like the way we all do. Yes, she was weary, but she’s a very [fun person]. It’s interesting… having gone through years and years and years of this, she’s actually quite lighthearted and joyful and gentle. When you meet some of the other girls who were involved in the Enfield case as grownups now – either this case or the other case we explore in Conjuring 1 – they have a real sense of being haunted. It clung to them. But Lorraine doesn’t. She has a real effervescence. I don’t experience that. I just really experience a joyful sweetheart. A heart-on-two-feet kind of woman. I know how her speech patterns changed; I see how her physicality changed when I break things down.

DC: How much of The Conjuring 2 Lorraine is her real history versus a character in the script?

VF: You know, I’m not sure. We are taking a period of time, and we are compressing it for the audience into a film. We’re also taking their history and really jam-packing it and compressing, so there is a lot for me to consider. I mean, obviously, we’re heightening a lot, and a lot happened in a very limited amount of time. I also have to play to the truth of what happens in our script. It’s a combination of that. I have to stay true to that. But it’s the same thing really because Ed and Lorraine had an extraordinary love; they were an extraordinary duo. They were such a dynamic couple and they had a fierce love for each other and they had a best friendship. All I had to do, really, is keep that in mind.

The Conjuring 2

Along with Wilson, Farmiga, and O’Connor, the sequel’s cast includes Abhi Sinha, Lauren Esposito, Franka Potente, Simon McBurney, Simon Delaney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Patrick McAuley, Benjamin Haigh, and Madison Wolfe.

Expect the film in US theaters on June 10, 2016, and in the UK on June 17. For more visit The Conjuring on Facebook, The Conjuring on Twitter, and The Conjuring on Instagram.

The supernatural thriller brings to the screen another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.

conjuring 2 poster



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