The Conjuring 2 has conjured itself up to number 1 in the New Zealand Box Office, and it’s not hard to see why.
Director James Wan returns along with stars Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air, The Departed) and Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious) to the Conjuring series, which is quickly becoming a Blockbuster franchise with both the original and its sequel proving to be Box Office giants.
“We have a shorthand. I’ll do anything with him. He has such a passion for filmmaking.” says Wilson on working with Wan again; “His passion and his vision never waver”.
Farmiga is much the same;
We have a wonderful shorthand this time around. He knows to direct me like a dancer, often with choreography and physicality and tempo.
“There’s a comfort level. James knows I demand the most of myself – that I’m not going to just walk through a scene; I’m going to push myself. I think that gives him energy as well” says Wilson, which is something they’d need on the set of a supernatural thriller that demands audiences dig their very finger tips into the edge of their seats.
We know when to dig in and go to work and we know when to just have a laugh.
As Wan and Wilson have worked together primarily on the Conjuring films, you wonder if they might explore something else together in future. “Absolutely! We’ve been talking about that for years!” says Wilson, even going so far as to mention when Wan worked on Furious 7; “Even when he was doing Furious 7, he was like, ‘I wish there was something in this for you.’”
Returning to her role as Lorraine Warren, Farmiga touches on the qualities she drew on to shape her performance based on the famous real-world paranormal investigator; “Lorraine is as sweet as molasses; her nature is kind and compassionate and gentle.”
There are joyful people, and then there’s Lorraine Warren. Anyone who meets her can agree that she is luminous. She glows holy with positivity and compassion.
“She adored her husband so and respected him, honoured him, admired him” says Farmiga on Lorraine’s late husband, Edward (played by Wilson).
“We went and met with Lorraine like we did on the first one, before shooting.” says Wilson. “And that always helps to ground it”.
“Patrick and I were eager to visit her at her Connecticut home a few months before the start of photography on The Conjuring 2” says Farmiga on seeing Lorraine before they started production on the film; “Time spent with her and her daughter, Judy, and her son-in-law, Tony Spera, is like time spent with extended family”.
“It’s just nice to go up there and connect, and find little things we can use” notes Wilson on visiting Warren.
On such a comment, you have to wonder if Wilson has visited the infamous Warrens’ Occult Museum; “Several times! My goal this time was to get Vera in there. On the drive up, I said, ‘You are going in that damn room [laughs].’ And she did and, of course, she was fine”. Farmiga confirms Wilson’s goal;
Patrick insisted! This time a swig of wine girded me with enough courage to explore the Demonology Museum.
The two leads with their remarkable chemistry, also help in grounding the film with their performances as the Warrens. “Patrick and I also have great chemistry off–screen” says Farmiga. “What is chemistry but rapport – it’s friendship; it’s attraction. I’m attracted to his goodness, his goofiness, his willingness“.
“Yeah, well, I rarely say I have favourites because I’ve worked with some amazing leading ladies, but, next to my wife, she’s certainly my favourite lady to work with” replies Wilson on working with Farmiga.
We both generally love playing these guys.
“We’ll get the job more than done, but not without a thousand wisecracks.” says Farmiga, noting their “jokey” relationship they share when cameras aren’t rolling.
The Conjuring 2 investigates the Enfield Poltergeist, a case that drew considerable coverage during the disturbance from 1977 to 1979. “I had seen a couple of the pictures of the girls in mid-air and [British paranormal investigator] Maurice Grosse, but probably only as a result of the first movie” says Wilson.
Farmiga strikes through this to talk about what stuck with her most about the event; “What really provokes me about the real life events that occurred in the Enfield Haunting was the duration of time that the infestation/possession endured” she says. “How anyone agrees to revisit that gloom and fear in the form of a film is sheer audacity to me”.
“We didn’t need to establish what their relationship was; it was more, ‘Where are they now.’ We could just cut to the meat of it”, Wilson notes on the Warrens investigating the Enfield Poltergeist in The Conjuring 2. “I think that’s what the story does – not that you need to see the first one, but I think it helps to lay the groundwork for Ed and Lorraine”.
An ensemble cast made up of international actors join Farmiga and Wilson in creating this story for the screen; “Second time around, I can verify that Frances O’Conner is a formidable actress. I had the great privilege of working with her on the HBO film Iron Jawed Angels” notes Farmiga.
“Frances is just wonderful. She has the right amount of strength and frailty” says Wilson on O’Conner’s role as mother, Peggy Hodgson, in the film.
“As soon as you walk into that house and lock eyes with her you feel her; you feel she’s this mother who’s just trying to make ends meet, but who’s in desperate need and will do anything for her kids”; “Frances delved deeply and acutely into such frazzled, worn out, protective, devoted, single-handed maternity – she blows me away” adds Farmiga.
“She just killed in the role. Frances and also Madison Wolfe, the young actress who plays Janet Hodgson, were fantastic” says Wilson. Farmiga also endorses the talent Wolfe brought to The Conjuring 2;
Madison is a revelation as Janet. She has a savoir faire of storytelling that is beyond her years and experience.
With a strong team helping to create these tales, the experience that audiences have when viewing The Conjuring 2 can be a mixture of emotions. “Audiences see this type of film to be transported to another realm, for the spiritual consideration of it” says Farmiga.
“These types of film investigate and challenge our belief systems. I can only hope that The Conjuring 2 is an enlightening, emotional, dramatic, transporting experience for audiences”.
Wilson adds, “I want them to be scared! That’s sort of the point here. But more than that – even more than the first one – this movie has tremendous heart”.
He adds “There’s a great romantic story in here as well. That’s what sets the movie apart. You will care about these people, watching this family go through this. And, at the same time, you will be genuinely freaked out [laughs]”. Farmiga follows that with;
I hope they [the audience] can experience, in a palpable way, the terror, the panic, the alarm, the fear and trembling that the Hodgson family experienced.
With The Conjuring 2 proving successful, would Farmiga return again as Lorraine Warren?
Yes! I hope to revisit this character for at least a trilogy of stories. I’d love to bookend The Conjuring 2 with a 3.
“I love that at the heart of our story is a tale of compassion and selflessness and righteousness. And to accomplish it with good friends – James, Patrick, producers Rob Cowan and Peter Safran, it feels a holy endeavour to revisit these characters time and again”.