Yesterday saw the premiere of the newest horror film in THE CONJURING universe, ANNABELLE: CREATION. In preparation of the films screening during the LA Film Festival, Shannon had the chance to speak with director David F. Sandberg and the cast of the film on the red carpet at the historical Ace Hotel Theater.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for speaking with me today about ANNABELLE: CREATION. My first question is for director David Sandberg – last year you had the premiere of your feature debut, LIGHTS OUT, and now you are back again with ANNABELLE: CREATION. What was it like this time around now that you had your first feature under your belt?
David Sandberg: This was a lot more enjoyable just because with LIGHTS OUT being my first movie I had so much pressure on myself and everything was new to me. Prior to that I had never been on a film set before. For ANNABELLE: CREATION I felt like I knew how a movie was made now and I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. This was just a pleasant experience the whole way through.
NC: What made you want to take the helm and direct a prequel to the ANNABELLE?
David Sandberg: Well the fact that it was an origin story because I wouldn’t have wanted to do it if it was a straight up sequel about the doll coming back. Since Gary Dauberman wrote this very separate story that was very different from the first one, it made me think, okay I can make this my own thing instead of a straight up sequel.
NC: The cast is primarily all women which I think is amazing. What was it like working with all these young actresses?
David Sanberg: It was great because they were just so professional and they all clicked really well. They were a huge part of why filming this was such a pleasurable experience.
NC: This is a great segway into my next question for the cast. Could you each tell us a little bit about your characters in the film?
Stephanie Sigman: I play Sister Charlotte and she takes care of six girls. We have just lost the place we were living at and this lovely family, The Mullens, take us in. This is where the whole story begins and the creation of Annabelle.
Lulu Wilson: My character, Linda, is the youngest of all the orphans so because of that the older orphans kind of pick on her except for one, Janice. They form this unbreakable bond and they are best friends, almost like sisters. When they move to their new orphanage, other-worldly bad things start to happen to Janice and Linda does her best to try and stop it.
Talitha Bateman: I play Janice and she is crippled – she can’t walk on one leg. She’s very depressed most of the time because she didn’t grow up like that, she’s only been this way for about a year. Most of the other orphans are running around and playing while she has to stay home and sit down, so the other girls mock her a little bit. Lulu’s character, Linda, really helps Janice a lot because she’s kind of Janice’s sunray.
Miranda Otto: I am playing the wife of the dollmaker and we are a couple who lives in an old house and we bring in a lot of these young orphan children to stay in the house. There’s a bit of a backstory to that but I’m not going to tell you why (laughs).
Grace Fulton: I play Carol and I’m the oldest orphan and a bit of a snob. It’s almost like even though everyone is an orphan we are all related in a sense since we are the only family we have, so though I’m a bit of a snob and I’m controlling it’s because I care about these girls.
NC: What made you want to be a part of this film?
Stephanie Sigman: First of all the script. I think it’s a great story. The girls were amazing and they are such professional actresses and I’m super excited for their future and careers – they are going to be kicking ass. Surprisingly, the film is a really feminist movie.
Talitha Bateman: I’m not a very weak person, I’m really tough and strong and I don’t let a lot of people see me cry when I’m sad, so that was interesting to twist that and make my character so constantly raw and emotional. I had to really feel what she was feeling and that was really interesting to me because being that way was so completely different than who I am. It was also a lot of fun!
Miranda Otto: I thought it would be fun to play a character that a lot of people thought something about but didn’t know very much about. I’m kind of a little hidden in the film and I thought it would be fun to play somebody that no one really knows what is going on with.
Grace Fulton: Being able to work with all these young girls. It was such a fun experience!
NC: Were any of you horror fans prior to filming ANNABELLE: CREATION?
Stephanie Sigman: Not necessarily, I actually get scared pretty easily. They were making fun of me the whole time on set because the girls are brave and young and they aren’t scared of anything in the world yet, which is beautiful. But yeah they were making fun of me because everything was scary to me (laughs).
Talitha Bateman: I am! I’m a huge horror film junkie. I’ve seen LIGHTS OUT, SIXTH SENSE, THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING; I’ve seen like all of the big horror movies.
Grace Fulton: Honestly, I haven’t really watched them, but the month before I booked this I watched THE CONJURING, THE CONJURING 2, and ANNABELLE in one night with my brother and I felt like anything could happen at any moment. I’m not a skiddish person but I was like that trash can over there could attack us (laughs).
NC: What was it like to work with the Annabelle doll and did anything weird or creepy happen with it on set?
Lulu Wilson: The doll is kind of creepy. Usually I don’t get scared, but the face and the eyes are so realistic that it kind of freaked me out. She was also really heavy to carry. Nothing weird happened on set with the doll which I was kind of surprised about considering the doll is based off a true story. I read all about it before I was on set so that kind of freaked me out but then I got over it and reminded myself it was just a movie, nothing bad was going to happen (laughs).
Miranda Otto: Creepy, the doll is creepy! I heard that in the past there had been loads of weird things that happened with the doll, but nothing on our set. I did have to do one scene with Stephanie where she brings in the doll and we’re rehearsing and she sets the doll in the chair to watch and I was like, can you please just move the doll it creeps me out every time it’s sitting there watching us try to rehearse this scene (laughs).
Grace Fulton: I remember the doll being at the table reading (before filming started) and it sat across from me and I kept thinking, please don’t look at me (laughs).
NC: Last but not least, what do you think fans are going to be in store for when they come to see ANNABELLE: CREATION?
Stephanie Sigman: I definitely think surprises and twists and turns. There is a lot of things you don’t see coming and that’s what makes this movie so good. I’m actually excited to hear what audiences think.
Miranda Otto: I think audiences will definitely be scared. These guys know what they are doing.
ANNABELLE: CREATION will arrive in theaters August 11 from Warner Bros. Studios