When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate.
Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned. “The Nun” stars Oscar-nominated Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) as Father Burke, Taissa Farmiga (TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Sister Irene, and Jonas Bloquet (“Elle”) as local villager French.
We caught up with stars Demián Bichir and Taissa Farmiga to talk being buried alive, religion and the scary “nun”. Check out the interview after the jump.
How did you feel with this character?
Demián Bichir: It’s one of those characters that are so well written, and so well put on the paper that all you have to do is be truthful to it. I have played another type of priest before, another revolutionary on the father of Mexican independence. So, I got a lot from that, from that knowledge, because we also played a Jesuit. Those guys are really, really smart, and very clever, and are very well educated, and brave as well. So, I always tried to find a link to get as close to the character as possible. The quicker the better, and I found that we are both assertive. We both believe that we can make a difference, but we also have our own contradictions. We also have our own fears, and our own demons to fight.
Were you raised tough on Christianity?
Demián Bichir: Yeah, as Mexican, yes. Pretty much because I wanted to go with my grandmother to church. I would always ask, “Where are you going, Grandmother?”. “I’m going to church. Just stay home.”, “No, no, no I want to go with you.”. Boom, I would follow her, and I would be with her. She taught me about, you know, the personality, the cross, and the first things that I learned about praying, and all that. The place was a formidable place. The smell of it. The tranquility of the air. But then I didn’t stay there too long.
Talissa, how did you prepare for this role? And what was your experience while working on the project?
Taissa Farmiga: I wasn’t raised Catholic, I didn’t have much experience with nuns. But I really wanted to provide authenticity to the character, because you are playing someone who is so specific. It’s someone who’s chosen this life of dedication and commitment, and that takes a very specific strength. An inner strength to have, and I really wanted to know more about that. I wanted to know the details of the day to day struggle. I learned, from when I watched the Nun Story with Audrey Hepburn, which was actually quite informative. I learned that the life of a nun is a struggle for self-perfection, which I don’t know anybody that wants to try, and be perfect every single day. It’s physically impossible. So, one thing I really wanted to incorporate, that I learned, was the physicality of it. You are always sensing, or you’re always watching yourself, and correcting yourself. Am I walking humbly? Am I walking close to the walls? Am I closing doors quietly? Am I walking with purpose? Are my hands being useless? or am I used them for work? Its little tiny things that you realize you’re thinking about on a constant basis, it actually takes a quite a bit of mental space, and time throughout the day. So, while playing Sister Irene I really wanted to make sure I was incorporating all those little corrections.
Did you get any tips from your sister Vera working on this?
Taissa Farmiga: I think the main thing she told me was don’t bring work home with you. You don’t want to bring home any spirits, or demons, or any of the sort. Lucky for me, a lot of Vera’s research was with demonology, and exorcisms, which luckily I didn’t have to do. I got to look at more of the holy side of it, what it takes to be a nun. So, I didn’t have to delve too deep into that dark world, and truthfully I don’t like that. I took her advice, and I did not bring home Bonnie Aarons, the demon out of me at all, because I didn’t need that in my life.
And on that note of Sister Irene, she’s a woman that’s been so holy, but yet she’s so nuance with representation. There’s even some tension with Frenchie, it seems like there’s almost this affectionate tension. So, what about the representation, the female representation of her character in the movie?
Taissa Farmiga: You know, I agree with what Demian was saying before, that there was so much in the script. I think Gary Dauberman wrote such amazing characters, so we really just played what was given to us, you obviously always have to make it your own. Even though someone becomes this holy figure like a nun, you’re still human, you’re still flawed. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to be perfect, you’ll never achieve it. Sister Irene, yeah she’s not supposed to fall in love and get married to someone else, considering that she’s a bride of Christ, but you can’t help having connections, emotional connections with different people. I think Sister Irene and the Frenchie character, I think they had a strong connection.
Did working in a movie like this change your point of view on religion, exorcism, this kind of stuff?
Taissa Farmiga: For me, it really opened my eyes to how much it takes to be someone who has so much faith, and so devout. I was sincerely impressed by it. I’m not scared of commitment, but committing yourself to the Lord, and committing yourself to struggle to be a perfect being in His honor, that’s scary. I don’t think I could ever do it. So, I’m not sure if it validated anything for me, but it really opined my eyes. It made me really respect them, these religious figures, and how they commit their lives to this.
Demián Bichir: That’s pretty much the same thing. It is very truly remarkable how these people become soldiers, just like in any army. It doesn’t matter if you have fears. If you have doubts. If you have your own demons to explore when they call you, and you are required you have to get up and perform. Go it there, and accomplish a mission.
Taissa Farmiga: It doesn’t matter what fear or feelings you have, you have to put that aside.