For the upcoming release of ANNABELLE: CREATION, Craig had the pleasure of being part of a round table interview with actresses Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson where they discussed everything from performing stunts to improvisation.
Question: While on set, did you two get along well?
Talitha Bateman: No, we hate each other.
Lulu Wilson: We hate each other so much (laughs). No, we became best friends.
Question: Though you were younger than some of the other actors, you had more experience within the horror genre. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
LW: It’s kind of cool because in a way you’re teaching someone even though you’re not actually going up to them being like, “Okay, I’m going to teach you some things.” You’re teaching them as they observe you and I just feel like that’s really cool.
Question: What was it like learning from some of the more experienced actors?
LW: I definitely did learn from them and I actually learned a lot from the director, David F. Sandberg. He taught me that actions speak louder than words because even though the doll’s not saying anything, the doll definitely is making you feel some pretty intense emotions. It’s making you scream and run for your lives.
Question: Did either one of you ever take acting classes?
LW: I’ve never had an acting class.
TB: Me neither, I’ve never taken one before.
LW: But, actually, I didn’t know how to cry on cue before ANNABELLE: CREATION so I looked up on YouTube how to do it. It sounds really stupid, but it works; I just keep my eyes open for a really long time. Also, besides keeping your eyes open for a really long time you have to have that emotion because if you don’t, it’ll look like you kept your eyes open for a really long time and tears are coming down and your face is completely blank.
TB: I can’t really cry on cue.
LW: Yeah you can!
TB: Well the thing is I don’t try and cry on cue; like she said you have to really feel it. I feel like I always have to have some sort of empathy for the character, I have to actually feel what she feels in the scene or else it will seem like I’m putting on a facade and I’m not really in character. It won’t come across as well on camera so I always try to get fully into character because when Janice is sad you want to feel like her. I mean, like her being desperate, she’s really desperate throughout this whole movie to get out of this house and she’s horrified. I feel like you really want to see all those emotions instead of just feeling like, “Okay I’m crying, the tears are coming down my face. Yes, yes, yes this is good,” or else it won’t look real, it won’t look believable.
Question: What is it about acting that you love?
TB: What I love about acting is that I don’t have to be Talitha Bateman, I can experience all these different emotions and be, like, a barista, if I wanted to, without having to be a barista. It’s just really cool that you can become this whole other person and you don’t even have to go into a different career choice. I just love that because I don’t want to be Talitha Bateman every day; I get to be Janice or I could be Lulu WIlson, so that’s actually one of my favorite things about acting.
LW: I really like that too. Sometimes when I was little, I used to pretend to be different people; like I used to pretend to be a mermaid, or a princess, or whatever and now I’m basically getting to do that but with a little more help because I have the makeup and the wardrobe which is also a really big part of why I love acting.
Question: If there was a role you did not like, would you turn it down?
LW: Probably not, because if I just read the script and did nothing else I wouldn’t even know what that person would be like. I wouldn’t even know how to incorporate my own self into that person; so no definitely not.
TB: I’ve had to, actually, there was this comedy and they wanted me to just cuss like a sailor and I just felt like I didn’t really connect with the character at all. I feel like someone else would have appreciated the role a lot more than I would’ve and it just didn’t feel like I was the character. So I turned it down because I didn’t feel like cussing every day like that.
Question: What was it like seeing the doll on set?
TB: On set? We actually met her first at the table read and it was kind of funny because they put a little water bottle and a script right next to her.
LW: It was pretty creepy and it was right across from us.
TB: It was the first time we were really reading the script together so like seeing her there was like, “Oh, okay, this is kinda creepy.”
LW: The first time on set one of the other actresses, I forget who, said “Oh, my gosh, Lulu, you need to look at this, you need to come right now,” and so I walked and they took me into this closet thing. It wasn’t on set it was just a random closet and inside was the doll just sitting there and I was like, “Okay, wow! Why are you taking me here?” and I was like super freaked out. That was the first time I had really looked at it hard and I was looking at the eyes and the eyes were so scary.
TB: So realistic.
LW: They look exactly like a human’s eye and that’s what makes it so creepy. It’s like, “Did they actually take human eyes and put them on the doll?” because it was just so scary. It was crazy.
TB: The first time I saw the doll on set it was actually half of her because they had this other one. I think it was from the original movie where she breaks at one point, she was all scraped up, and she looked really creepy. I think she had one eye out of her head. It was so scary. It was actually, I think, in the prop room and I walked in. I was like, “Okay, we’re not working with that doll, right?” That was the freakiest time I saw her because she was all beaten up and it was like, half of her body. It was really scary.
Question: What was it like working with the teenage cast members?
LW: I feel like I connect more with older people. It was really nice working with them and also because I kind of got a sense of what all of our characters would be; we were all very strong female characters that were all fighting for our lives. It was not like just one of us or two of us are fighting, it was like all of us were fighting so I feel like that was all really great.
TB: Yeah I agree with what you said and they were actually really great role models too. They were really sweet in-between scenes. You would expect some people, because they have been doing it for so long, to be like, “Oh, okay these are kids,” but they were really nice to work with. They gave us some advice about some specific scenes and we were just always in character together and we weren’t afraid to just take a minute to get in character. When we’re in the scene I felt like we were all the orphans instead of just Talitha Bateman or Lulu Wilson. We were all just playing as the orphans because I guess we’re professionals on set, most of the time. I thought that was really cool to work with people like that.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about the stunt work?
TB: That was really fun. I actually did all my own stunts. They had a stunt person and she did some too, but they ended up using mine so I thought that was really cool. I do this scene where I’m on a stair lift and I fly up at one point and it was so much fun. The belt buckle, like, burst open and I was screaming and flying in the air. You would expect it to be scary, but I wasn’t scared at all. I’m kind of a daredevil when it comes to that stuff.
LW: I had so much fun doing my stunts. I had done all my stunts previously in OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL and I thought, “Oh maybe I won’t be able to do stunts. Maybe they’re not going to let me,” but I did and I was thrilled. Probably my favorite stunt was when I was in the dumbwaiter, but at first I was kind of a little hesitant because I had to fly up on a rope in the air and I didn’t know what my body position would be. I didn’t know what I was really doing at that point. Everyone was just like, “Oh yeah, just go with it,” and I was like, “Okay.” Apparently I was doing it right, but it didn’t really feel right, thought it was a lot of fun.
Question: Where you knowledgeable about the CONJURING universe and what type of expectations should the audience have?
TB: Yes, we are both familiar with it and I think we both watched both of THE CONJURINGfilms, right?
LW: Did you watch ANNABELLE?
TB: Yeah, I watched that too.
LW: Yeah, I watched all of them.
TB: I think I saw all of them. It didn’t really hit me (how bit of a deal it was) until, honestly, Comic Con, I feel like. While we were filming I knew what I was filming, that it was ANNABELLE: CREATION and I thought it was cool, but it didn’t really hit me until we were at Comic Con. Most the time we were filming it felt like –
LW: It kind of felt like it’s own thing.
TB: Yeah, like its own film, separate from everything else. Even though it’s all related, it just felt like its own standalone project.
LW: It’s own universe even though it’s within the same universe.
Question: What was it like to work with Anthony LaPaglia?
TB: Anthony’s just so nice. While we were filming he was fully in character the whole time, so I don’t really feel like we met him until afterwards when we wrapped, honestly.
LW: We met his character but we never actually met him, which I thought was really cool, actually.
TB: He has an Australian accent and I didn’t realize he was Australian until we were at the wrap party. I was like “Oh, hi, nice to really meet you.”
Question: Talitha, what was it like playing a character with polio?
TB: It was actually extremely difficult because I just found out (about the leg braces) two weeks before we were shooting, so I walked around, actually I limped around, with a leg brace just limping around the house and going to grocery stores and just across the street. Everywhere I could, because I wanted to practice moving around without that other leg and it was really hard to shoot that because the leg brace was actually very heavy. Heavier than I anticipated. When we started shooting I felt like one of my legs actually ended up getting bigger than the other one because it had so much weight on it all the time. I really wanted to wear it throughout lunch and everything even though they offered to take it off me, I wanted to wear it the whole entire time I could wear it because I wanted to feel everything Janice was feeling. I wanted to be fully in character.
Question: Did anything creepy happen on set?
LW: Nothing really happened. I was expecting something to happen because, I mean, there’s that true story of the real Annabelle doll; so if it could happen to one doll it could happen to another.
TB: We had the set blessed, though, so I think that maybe helped something. I don’t really believe in any of that stuff. I don’t believe in supernatural things.
LW: I do.
TB: Lulu does, but I didn’t really think anything was gonna happen. I honestly was a little relieved because I was like, “Maybe, possibly.”
LW: I was happy nothing happened really.
TB: Me too
LW: Because if something did happen, I’d be like, I’m out of here!
Question: What was it like working on a film that had a period setting?
TB: I love that time period. I love antique things in general, like typewriters, I actually have on at home. When I got to wear the leg brace that was the first time I saw it at the fitting, actually. I freaked out because it’s all placed back in time and the whole wardrobe was too and I just love that time period. It’s one of my favorites. When we actually got to walk around the house in 1950s it was like whoa. I think it really helped with my character, just understanding (the time period of) the house in general and where we are (from a setting perspective) witht he whole project. I think I understood what was really going on when we saw the house. When I read the script I can picture that time period in my head, but it was completely different when we started filming.
LW: I felt like it’s so much fun to do a period piece because I have done one before, but it took place in the 60s, I believe. I thought it would be kind of similar, but it really wasn’t. It was kind of the opposite which was really cool especially with the wardrobe and the hair. For my hair I bands which I kind of dreaded but I thought it was really cool. I liked all the dresses and usually I would never wear a dress but wearing those 50s dresses I was like, “Oh, maybe I”ll reconsider.”
TB: And the shoes, actually, they were very heavy. Felt like you were in horseshoes or something, just clomping around.
LW: I had like those bowler shoes, they were so cool.
Question: Did you do any improvisations on set?
LW: I feel like one of the scenes that I improvised most in was the dumbwaiter scene. I wouldn’t just be saying what was on the paper; I would be making different noises or yelling, “No!” or screaming from time to time. I feel like you wouldn’t stick to script, you wouldn’t just say “No,” once or, “Oh no,” or, “Oh my God,” you would be improvising in between.
TB: That’s one thing with me, like fully getting into characters – you have to feel everything. If you’re always thinking about “Okay, I’m going to do this, then I’m going to do this,” then if something happens that you didn’t think was gonna happen, then it would just throw you off and you wouldn’t be in character anymore. I think there was one scene where I was on the stair life and actually grabbed at this pine cone thing (on the post), but I pulled that off and it broke in the scene and that wasn’t on purpose, it was completely improvised. We just went with it and we actually ended up using that in the movie. That was really cool and it wasn’t in the script at all. I think that really helped the scene because it’s like you’re trying to get out with your life and I was just grabbing at different things and trying to get out of the chair but I couldn’t reach anything. Then when I reach that it fell off and that helped me scream and get even more into character.
Question: What projects do you have coming up outside of ANNABELLE: CREATION?
LW: I’m currently shooting an HBO series called “Sharp Objects” based on the book by Gillian Flynn who wrote (the book) “Gone Girl” and it’s with Amy Adams which is really cool because she’s one of my role models. When I met her I was in awe and she was like, “Oh, hi, I’m Amy!” and I’m like “Oh, I’m Lulu, nice to meet you.” I was kind of freaked out, but then I realized that she’s just a normal person and why would I treat her any differently? She’s just like you and me. I started getting used to being around one of my role models and we just talked about normal things like our hair and puppies. It was just so much fun working with her.
TB: I’m actually on pin for a few things right now which will hopefully work out, but I do have GEOSTORM which comes out this year, which I’m really excited about. I actually just filmed that and I got to work with Gerard Butler who I saw in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I wanted to ask him to sing for me but I was like no that would be really weird. He has a really thick accent and I love his accent but they couldn’t get him to stop talking his normal accent. They tried to get him to speak in an accent like mine, but they couldn’t do it. He had a dialect coach and I tried to help him but it didn’t work out. He’s such a kind person and it’s really cool to meet, like, a role model, but when they’re actually humble and they’re nice, it just makes you love them more and respect them more. You can really appreciate their personality too, other than work, and I thought that was really cool.
ANNABELLE: CREATION will be released in theaters nationwide August 11th from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures.
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