In Annabelle: Creation, several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and six girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. Twelve years prior, Samuel and Esther Mullins (played by Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) invited evil into their home by asking for contact with their deceased daughter. Now the orphans are the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
The scary little doll made her first appearance in The Conjuring. She then got her own spinoff, the hugely successful Annabelle. Fans of The Conjuring franchise now have the opportunity to discover the infamous doll’s beginnings—from her first home in a little girl’s room to her first possession of a little girl’s soul.
Esther Mullins, the grief-stricken mother in this prequel, is played by Miranda Otto. Miranda answered a few questions for Hollywood Jesus readers about her upcoming role in this frightening tale.
Interview with Miranda Otto, “Ester Mullins” in Annabelle: Creation
Annabelle: Creation is different than Otto’s previous projects. She played Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and most recently starred in Fox’s 24: Legacy. I asked Miranda what attracted her to this project.
There were a number of things that attracted me to the project. I saw the original Annabelle, and I really enjoyed that. I just love [Director] David Sandberg when I met him. He makes you feel very safe and relaxed. I knew he would be a great person to work with.
In the story, what attracted me was the idea of playing somebody behind the veil, behind the mask, that people were making up stories about. People assume there is something evil about this woman when, underneath, the story is much more tragic. I thought that was an interesting character to play.–to play her at two different times. You get to see the happy family they were and what actually happened in their life.
Annabelle: Creation stars several young girls who play the orphans who are now the target of Annabelle’s wrath. The preview alone is enough to make me cover my eyes in fright. How did the cast and crew keep the mood light amidst all that darkness?
Those things always come down from the top. David [Sanberg] has such a gentle, relaxed nature. I felt like it was a very relaxed set. We were shooting mainly at Warner Brother’s Studios, so there was this nice aspect of going to the studio every day. It was an incredible set. It was actually a really fun set to work on.
We had a lovely crew. A lot of these people worked together before on other movies in [The Conjuring] series. There was something very relaxed and family-like about it. That comes down from the producers and from David. That is the kind of atmosphere they set. There wasn’t any tension on set; it just comes across in the movie.
And what about that doll? Annabelle is, for sure, the scariest doll to ever sit in a child’s room. Full of demonic power, she’s a fright. She will make you want to box up all your baby dolls and hide them. What did Miranda think about Annabelle?
The doll has a certain presence of its own. It is a frightening doll. It carries a certain weight. We were actually rehearsing the scene where I explain the whole story of what happened. They bring in the doll, and she is sitting in the chair. I said, “I’m really sorry, but I don’t want to rehearse with the doll looking at me. She can watch me in the scene, but while we’re rehearsing, can you turn her away or take her out of the room. That’s really disturbing me.”
Can a horror film be more than a big scare in a dark theater? Perhaps this one has redeeming qualities. Besides the classic good-versus-evil, audiences will see what it means to deal with grief in an unhealthy way. What happens when we turn from our faith in a time of crisis? Esther Mullins is an example of that cautionary path.
At first, [the audience] will not know enough about Esther. They will see her as a character to be feared. I think, when they realize the story behind that, they will empathize with that. At the heart of it is a couple that loses a child and how they deal with that grief. When they are offered the opportunity to reconnect in some mysterious way with their child, they take that opportunity. People can ask themselves if they would do the same thing–if they would do what the Mullins do.
Annabelle: Creation opens in theaters nationwide August 11. The film is directed by David F. Sanberg (Lights Out) and written by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle). It is produced by New Line Cinemas and Atomic Monster and released by Warner Bros.
Annabelle: Creation has been rated R by the MPAA for horror, violence, and terror.