Next to Audrey Hepburn‘s Sister Luke (The Nun’s Story) and Whoopi Goldberg‘s Sister Mary Clarence (Sister Act), the most iconic portrayal of nuns in cinema was in an albeit dark as hell sense (pun intended) via The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation.

The demon nun known as Valac became one of, if not, the most feared villains in the current era of horror which lead to a stand-alone film, The Nun.

While the aforementioned movies of The Conjuring franchise left us associating nuns with the ultimate evil, the 2018 masterpiece conveys nuns as beacons of light and there is no shinier beacon in Hollywood than Taissa Farmiga.

The supremely talented actress is a perfect fit for the sweet and angelic Sister Irene, not just because of her demon banishing experience in American Horror Story: Coven (and soon-to-be AHS: Apocalypse), but also because she’s the younger sister of Vera Farmiga, the beloved actress who portrayed real life paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren in the first two Conjuring films.

Here, Taissa tells me the sage advice her sister gave her before embarking upon the epic franchise and the fucked up real-life ghost encounter that went down on set.

HOLY SHIT: Taissa Farmiga Shares Actual Ghost Encounter On ‘The Nun’ Set

Taissa as Sister Irene

Hey Taissa! First up, what attracted you to this film?

The reason why I first fell in love with this project was because of the character Sister Irene. I was just captivated by her, she lives a life that’s so different than mine. Becoming a nun is not an easy task, it requires a lot of strength and I saw that in the character and I wanted the chance to dive deeper and figure that out.

What kind of research did you do in order to bring authenticity to the character?

When playing someone like a nun you really want to provide authenticity so I spent hours online researching and trying to find information on what it takes to become a nun. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet any real life nuns but I watched The Nun Story with Audrey Hepburn which was actually quite informative and I realised that there are so many rules and rituals and regulations that go into becoming a nun from little things like on a minute-by-minute basis you need to be judging yourself and correcting yourself like don’t engage in musical conversation, walk with purpose, walk humbly, walk next to walls. All those things that you don’t normally think on a daily basis, the physicality of how’s your posture, how’s your walk, so that kind of thing that I really wanted to incorporate into my character.

I’m assuming you’ve seen the first two Conjuring films because your amazing sister was in them, did she put you up for the role?

Well to be honest I didn’t see The Conjuring 2 film until after I filmed this movie because I’m not a big horror buff, I get very scared very easily. But no Vera didn’t put me up for the role, my manager and agent sent me an email about the audition and I was reading through it and it said ‘spinoff of The Conjuring films’ and I thought ‘oh, that’s funny I’m probably not going to get the role’ but I went in and gave it my all and it worked out and it was just kind of a funny coincidence.

HOLY SHIT: Taissa Farmiga Shares Actual Ghost Encounter On ‘The Nun’ Set

Taissa’s sister Vera as Lorraine Warren

Did your sister give you any advice when you took the role?

Don’t bring your work home with you. Because Vera plays Lorraine, she had to do a lot more research into demonology and exorcisms and luckily I got to stay away from that and research nuns and holy and light things but she was like ‘look T, don’t bring it home. When you come home, light a nice candle and make yourself feel warm and comfortable, don’t bring work home with you.’ And that was probably the best piece of advice she could’ve given me with this film.

So how does it feel to be part of The Conjuring fam?

It’s such a fulfilling franchise to be a part of because you get to play these characters who are really well-rounded and and that’s something that James Wan does so well and he casts really good actors so when you’re watching these horror films you’re getting scared and shocked and terrified but you get to connect with these people emotionally and I think that’s what makes it even more terrifying.

What was your reaction when you read the script?

Well I was stupid enough to be reading the script at night by myself in my apartment so I was pretty on edge to be honest but it was actually a really quick read, you get pulled in immediately. Even right now, by the way, I’m remembering how I felt when I first read it and I can feel my heart starting to beat faster. You just have this reaction, you can’t help it, it pulls you into the story. Gary Dauberman is such a phenomenal writer, he’s so good at building the tension and creating these scares so that you just go along for the ride and don’t have a choice.

You do such a great job of projecting terror and bringing a sense of realism to it – is it difficult to bring yourself to that place?

It’s not that I don’t find it difficult but when you’re on set and you’re working with such talented people from the set decorators to the costume designer to the director and everybody else, you feel like you’re in it. When you have Bonnie Aarons, who plays the demon nun, and she’s in full hair and makeup and she’s got these jagged demon teeth and she’s dripping blood right about to fall on your face and she’s screeching at you, it’s pretty easy to play the fear at that point.

The location’s quite spooky and you filmed a lot of scenes at night, were there any creepy occurrences on set?

That’s one of the amazing things about getting to film at the location where your film is set, it’s set in 1952 in Romania and we got to shoot there so it’s already got that eerie, gothic feel so when it’s night time and you’re in these old cemeteries and old castles it’s almost like you’re asking for something spooky to come out and get you.

I luckily didn’t have any spooky experiences but Corin [Hardy] the director mentioned that when we were shooting in one of these old military tunnels that was once used to house weapons for the Romanian army, he was sitting in this room and there was one entrance in and out and he walks in and sees these two guys sitting there and he says “hi” and turns to the monitors and for the next 20 minutes they’re trying to get these various particular camera shots.

Well, they finally successfully get it and Corin jumps up all excited and he turns around to talk to the guys behind him and there was nobody there. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he realised that nobody had been there. There’s only one entrance in and out and he was standing right in front of it so you’d have to walk by him to leave.

Luckily I wasn’t there, I was surrounded by crew at the time because I was in front of the camera that they were trying to make it work so I didn’t experience that.

HOLY SHIT: Taissa Farmiga Shares Actual Ghost Encounter On ‘The Nun’ Set

Bonnie Aarons as The Nun

And as for Bonnie Aarons who plays the demon nun, did you get to hang with her between takes or did she go full-on method?

Bonnie loves to socialise and she especially loves to socialise when she’s in her demon nun garb. Bonnie’s so wonderful because she has such passion for the work she does and she’s creating this monstrosity but she gets such joy out of such darkness even though she’s not a very dark person, she’s actually quite funny and light and enjoys having a good time and smiling, but she also loves scaring the shit out of people and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone quite as passionate as her in that regard.

You may have heard YouTube pulled an ad for the Nun because it was too scary, did you anticipate things like this happening? Did you ever stop and think ‘this might be too scary’?

I don’t think I ever thought we were going too far, it’s what they want, people want to get scared and in this day and age you need to use new and innovate ways to make people feel that adrenalin rush and feel that fear course through them.

What’s your favourite thing about working on a horror film?

It’s such a funny thing because I don’t actually enjoying watching horror films, I don’t get any pleasure out of that and even when I’m on set and they’re like ‘come and look at this creepy shot we go, it’s so cool’ and it’s like super gory and you see all this blood, I don’t love that stuff so I think my favourite thing about working on a horror project is the energy on set and the atmosphere. Because you’re filming such a dark and heavy film, the atmosphere of the crew and everybody else, when you call cut is the complete opposite. People compensate it with more jokes and laughter and trying to make it light so I think that’s why I like working on darker projects because the actual energy of the set is the exact opposite and you get to work in a really fun environment.

And lastly, what was the most challenging part about filming The Nun?

All of the stunt work that goes into it because one thing that’s really amazing about The Conjuring franchise is that they love to do practical work so when you have a scene with demons appearing from out of nowhere and flying into your face, it’s all harnesses and wirework so I think the hardest thing is being on those wires and not just realising ‘oh shit, my core isn’t as strong as it could be’ but you also have to be extremely terrified and crying and feeling all these emotions and it can be a difficult balancing act.

The Nun is in cinemas now.

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