Last year we got to visit the set of Annabelle Comes Home which is the third installment of New Line Cinema’s hugely successful Annabelle films starring the infamous sinister doll from the Conjuring universe. Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter of the Annabelle films, IT and The Nun, makes his directorial debut on the film, which is produced by Peter Safran (Aquaman), who has produced all the films in the Conjuring franchise, and Conjuring universe creator James Wan (Aquaman).
The film stars McKenna Grace as Judy; Madison Iseman as her babysitter, Mary Ellen; and Katie Sarife as troubled friend Daniela; with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren.
We had the opportunity to sit down with McKenna Grace, Madison Iseman & Katie Sarife to talk about their characters and what we can expect from the new movie.
How did you prepare for the role?
Iseman: I like to research everything so I know what all we’re dealing with in this film, so I’m not going into it blindly. So yeah, as far as research into the different paranormal things and stuff, I did learn about everything. It’ll be really cool to see what all comes- when you guys see what all comes to life. We’ve got a lot of fun different things, in addition to Annabelle.
Was there any inspiration for her character that you took from other scary movies in the past?
Iseman: Just the fun elements of all the 80s, coming-of-age things. But as far as it goes, I feel like she’s pretty close to myself. So I just try and find the more confident elements of myself, cause she speaks her mind. A lot of it is based off a part of me.
What was it like to work with Gary Dauberman?
Iseman: He’s so amazing. I love working with him. He’s what I call an “actor friendly” director, very collaborative. He’ll listen to what you have to say. He’s just been so- If he’s ever stressed, he’s very good at hiding it. Everyone, actually. Just the whole crew’s been amazing, it makes the experience just so much more fun when you don’t have anyone who’s a diva or big-headed and just all there to help. Like everyone feels like they’re here to help each other. But as far as Gary goes, I just think he’s a giant teddy bear and so sweet. I love him.
What was it like on-set of Annabelle Comes Home versus The Haunting of Hill House?
Grace: It’s very different because on this one we’re gonna be here for a shorter period. And I’ll be on set more. Because Haunting of Hill House we were in Atlanta for 8 months. I mean, in some ways it’s similar with like the way that we shoot it with the scary parts. But then, in a lot of ways it’s different.
You’ve worked with a lot of great acting role models – Allison Janney, Chris Evans, Kate Siegel – a ton of them. What’s some of the best acting advice you’ve gotten from them?
Grace: Have fun with acting. And…Mr. Mark Webb, who was our director, said something to me whenever I had to do a scary scene – Mr. Mark Webb was our director in Gifted – I mean, whenever I had to do a crying scene, he said it looks really good when you cry messy cause it looks more realistic, and I held onto that.
How did working with Gary Dauberman help you through each scene and through your performance?
Grace: Mr. Gary, I mean… I know personally that I have a lot of responsibilities to do really good with this role. Because Mr. Patrick and Ms. Vera have done really, really good in all of the movies. And I want this one to look super good so Mr. Gary helps me a lot. I’ll have one view of the scene, one point of view of the scene, and then he’ll have another point of view of the scene and then we’ll talk about it before we go. Then he’ll come and be like, I really liked that.
How does your character impact the story?
Sarife: Her name is Daniella and she’s just really fun. She’s like that really fun best friend that kinda like finds the humor in everything. She’s also got this like, wild curiosity with the afterlife and everything because she had a close lost loved one. So she’s very interested in all that stuff, which is fun. And she’s best friends with Mary Ellen, who Madison plays, she’s kinda the friend that gets you out of your bubble, you know? Pushes you a bit. And I really love playing her.
Have you had any scary experiences? Can you tell us some?
Sarife: Yes! I can! Like my character, I’m very, very curious with all that kinda stuff. I had the idea of doing this intention candle. It’s kinda like this hippie-ish thing. My friend had told me about these intention candles that really work. I always wanted to try it and I was like, well what better time to do it than something that deals with the supernatural. I buy this success candle, because I have a good feeling about this. You write a message on it.
And what I did- It was me, my friend, and my boyfriend and we all had our candles lit. And my candle – in particular – started acting crazy. Like, I swear to God, the rim of the candle lit on fire. The flames were dancing, just the whole glass was lit. It was moving around. Finally, the wick lit – we were watching a movie – and I look back and the candle’s out. So, I light it again. And then watched the movie again. And the candle’s out.
So I took that as maybe a sign to stop? And the next day I found out that I booked it. And I was like, maybe that was Annabelle like, hey welcome. And I found out that when candles do that apparently, it means that either you’re intention is not gonna happen or it’s already happened so stop. And mine was the only one that did it. It was really freaky. Like I swear to God, everyone’s candle was normal and mine’s like, dancing around going nuts, having a mind of it’s own. Maybe it was Annabelle. Maybe it was… who knows. Who knows what it was.
Synopsis: Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target—the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends.
Annabelle Comes Home is set to open in theatres and IMAX on June 28, 2019.