During a recent international press junket for The Nun in Mexico City, journalists got an advanced look at the film, followed by roundtables with director Corin Hardy and stars Demián Bichir and Taissa Farmiga. It was during one of these sessions that a reporter asked Bichir to describe his most extreme personal nightmare scenario. He replied: “I think a very scary scenario for me would be: Trapped in a coffin, and having these hands come out of nowhere, you know, getting my face!”
The irony (and morbid humor) of his response is that he’s describing a situation his character, Father Burke, actually finds himself in in The Nun. While the idea of being buried alive is a primal fear often employed by fear practitioners (from Edgar Allen Poe to Stieg Larsson) the scene in The Nun is especially harrowing. Check out the previously-released clip at the bottom of the article for a glimpse of Father Burke’s live burial scene; we think you’ll agree, it pushes claustrophobic terror to the extreme!
Dread Central was lucky enough to participate in The Nun press junket in Mexico City. Check out some highlights of the group interview with Bichir below; in addition to the aforementioned burial scene, he discusses his own religious upbringing and how working on The Nun has changed his perspective regarding faith and confrontation. We’ll be featuring more Nun-related coverage in advance of the film’s release this Friday, September 7th, including an interview with Hardy and a review of the film itself. We’ve also included links to interviews conducted Farmiga published last week.
On the experience of playing a priest in The Nun:
Demián Bichir: [Father Burke is] one of those characters that is so well written and so well put on the paper that all you have to do is be truthful to it. I have played before another type of priest, another revolutionary, the father of Mexican Independence. So, I got a lot from that, from that knowledge because I was also playing a Jesuit. Those guys are really, really smart, and very clever, very well educated, and brave as well. So, I always try to find a link that I can, you know, to get closer to the characters as possible, or the fastest. You know, the quicker, the better. I found that we are both assertive and we both believe that we can make a difference. But we also have our own contradictions, and we also have our own fears and our own demons to fight.
On being raised Catholic:
DB: Yeah, as Mexican [I was raised Catholic]. And it was pretty much because I wanted to go with my grandmother to church. I would always say, “Where are you going, grandmother?” “I’m going to church, you stay home” [she would reply]. “No, no, no, no, I wanna go with you.” Boom. So, I would follow her and I would be with her. She taught me the stations of the cross and the first things that I learned about praying.
On whether working on The Nun changed his views on religion and/or Catholicism:
DB: You know, it is very, truly remarkable how [priests and nuns] become soldiers. Just like in any army, it doesn’t matter if you have fears, if you have doubts, if you have your own demons to explore. When they call you, when you are required, you have to get up and perform and go there and accomplish a mission.
We can always, in our world say, “Nah, thank you, I’ll pass.” You know, not these kids, not these guys. And that’s what makes you powerful. That’s something that was really, really interesting and clear in terms of how powerful knowing that the worst thing that can happen is that you will lose your life represents when you don’t care. Once you reach that point that it’s for a greater good for others, in this case, humanity maybe, then you become truly powerful, almost invincible, because anything, even your fears, especially your fears, are beyond yourself.
To me, that’s what we’ve been talking about the whole day today. That’s something that is really, really present now, right now. A lot of kids are fans of this franchise or horror films in general. They will go and have fun, and wow and they will get scared, but they will also remember that faith is much more needed now than ever before. That this faith in humanity, that’s going to save us. That’s what keeps us standing up. With so much stupidity going on everywhere, you know, with so much horror. You know, stories written courtesy of the White House, and beyond, you know? So, it’s faith in us that keeps us going.
On horror movies in general:
DB: I’m not a fan of horror films. I know it might sound contradictory, but I don’t like to sit in a place and be scared. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like to pay to be scared. And yes, it’s because of that, that you know, I already saw this film in a small little room. Of course, it wasn’t finished yet, but still, I was like, “Oh fuck, oh shit.” Things that I didn’t do, scenes that I wasn’t in. It caught me off guard, and that makes me very mad. It pisses me off that I get scared by a jump, you know like, “Oh fuck, man.” It doesn’t matter if I prepare for it because I hear the sound. You know, the music “zumzumzumzumzum …” here it comes, here it comes … oh nothing … AHH! Yeah, there was something there!
On the live burial scene in The Nun:
[It was] just one of those scenes that, when you read your script, you detect these are very heavy scenes, these are difficult scenes, these are scenes that are maybe going to keep me awake the whole shoot. I wanted to get rid of these as soon as possible. Then you take a look at the shooting plan and you say, “Fuck man, they put these at the end.” Then what the fuck? So, it’s one of those scenes that you say, “Okay, I hope this will be done like an in-and-out situation,” because I’m okay with small little places. But falling into a coffin, and then slamming the cover of it in your face, and then a creepy something grabbing your face and all that. It was not happy on the paper. It was not happy there, so I could only imagine what it was going to be there. And then, of course, we shot it three different times, on three different days, in two different countries. So that was my punishment.
Just imagine being buried alive. Yeah, because you know what, I knew there were a hundred crew members who were ready to rescue me if anything went wrong. And still I was like, “Fuck, dude get me out of here!”
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.