Sometimes you feel like a nun, sometimes you don’t. Stephanie Sigman plays Sister Charlotte, a well-meaning woman of the cloth who, with no choice, brings six orphans into a home haunted by a demon-doll in Annabelle: The Creation.
You empathize with her character; She tries to keep the kids’ spirits high even as things get terribly bleak. She also drives some of the movie’s most touching scenes. A pep talk she gives to the wheelchair-bound Janice left me particularly weepy.
David Sandberg directed the film and brings a lengthy and distinctly-modern horror pedigree with him. He’s self directed and produced some of the most well-respected films and shorts in the genre. Here he makes a very successful major-studio leap. This is a massive and lucrative franchise, and Sandberg brings a respectful yet adventurous eye to the proceedings.
I interviewed them both about Sister Charlotte’s struggle and major studio magic.
Your character plays the caretaker for six orphans. Were there times when you were reading the script thinking ‘No! get these girls out of the house!’
S: Oh yeah. Even on set I said ‘Can we just change the story and make my character super smart. Where she knows what’s about to happen and just runs away with the kids.’ And [David] was like, ‘No because where are you going to go? You don’t have a place to go. There’s no cell phones, no technology.’
D: And your character hadn’t read the script. So she doesn’t know what’s going to happen.
S: Right. You’re watching the movie, so you know a lot of things my character doesn’t know.
David you’ve worked in horror before; this is your genre. Was there a stamp you wanted to leave on the genre with this movie?
D: It was an honor to be able to do an installment in the conjuring franchise, which I’m a fan of, but also to do my own take on it. I was very happy that they were very open with what we were doing with this film. It was very much, ‘do your thing.’
Your scene with Janice where you called her spiritually strong was one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It really touched me. What was your rapport like with the girls? Did you feel like their actual caretaker by the end?
S: Yeah I feel like we had a connection instantly. I think that’s what you see on screen. They’re the best. They’re super professional, they’re adorable. They were actually taking care of me on set. I had to find the balance as a character to figure out how loving and caring to be when you’re taking care of six children. It’s a lot. But David would tell me ‘Go a little bit sweeter. You’re very firm.’ Cause that’s how I am. My voice is really low. I had to play with that a little bit.
David you come from a DIY background, making your own films. Was it a transition to work with a bigger studio?
D: Absolutely, but a fun one because you’re not as limited as when you work by yourself. You’re working with all these great professionals who know what they’re doing and who can do so many better things than you can do. Which is just, liberating. The set by Jennifer Spence looks so great. And when we were shooting it it was just so inspiring to just walk around in that creepy house and come up with new stuff that wasn’t even in the script.
In preparing for your role, did you look into religious iconography? How deep did you get into this world?
S: I went more towards the background of my character, in terms of what she went through in life. There was a whole story behind it but we couldn’t show it because the movie was gonna be super long. So it was more personal with my character than it was religious. I wanted her to have a lot of layers, and be more human and real and raw, and not be so much of the idea we have of a nun. I have a lot of people around me who are religious. People that have faith and believe in God. So I tried to add that to my character.
The film hits theaters this Friday!