Every parent’s greatest fear is seeing their child in pain. But what if that child’s source of pain is indescribable, unreachable, and may not even be real? In Warner Bros. Pictures’ new horror thriller “The Conjuring 2,” it becomes clear for Peggy Hodgson, that something supremely evil has permeated her London home and infiltrated her own daughter, Janet. It’s equally clear that there seems to be absolutely nothing she can do to protect her family.
British actress Frances O’Connor, who portrays the overwhelmed Peggy, says, “She’s a single mum with four kids living in a council house, so at the start of the film, life’s already pretty tough. She’s got no money and her husband’s not paying any support, so there’s a lot of strain within the house. Pretty quickly some small, paranormal things happen and Peggy is so stressed she doesn’t even see that it’s there.”
Until slowly, things begin to escalate. “One night, she is finally confronted by it when the girls’ wardrobe just slams across the room and hits a door. And from there it just gets much worse.”
O’Connor was aware of the incidents at the real Hodgson home at the time they occurred. “I’d read the stories and seen those pictures of the girls levitating, that kind of thing, and found it quite terrifying. There was a lot of documentation. So when the script came to me, I was interested in telling that story.”
In casting the part of the haunted daughter, director James Wan admits, “I think the hardest role to cast was Janet Hodgson, to find a young actress who could really capture the vulnerability of what this 11-year-old girl went through, and I’ve got to say, we are so fortunate to have found Madison Wolfe.”
With so much of the film’s believability riding on her portrayal of a possessed young girl, he adds, “She was able to play Janet’s innocence and naiveté at the beginning, but then slowly change her as she becomes more affected—and infected—by this entity that’s living in her house.”
Wolfe says modestly of her character, “I think she’s very smart and a sweet girl, but when these things start happening to her, it affects her a lot, like it would anybody.”
Vera Farmiga easily sings her young costar’s praises. “Maddy Wolfe is very impressive, very savvy, for such a young age. She has so much stamina, and she went inward and downward into these cavernous depths of negativity, yet she’s really a lighthearted and joyful child. It was quite surprising to watch because she’d go deep in a take and then just snap out of it and talk clinically about it to James, and then go right back into it. It’s just a very finely tuned instrument that she has and in my opinion her performance is nothing short of astounding.”
Patrick Wilson had worked with Wolfe previously, though her performance—including her English accent—were so good he didn’t realize it was the same actress at the script read-through. “I kept thinking she might be a girl in my son’s school, that she was the British counterpart of this other child I’ve seen,” he recalls. “But then, at the end of the reading, she told me she’d played my daughter in another film, and out comes this Louisiana accent! Granted, we didn’t have a lot of scenes together in the earlier film and it was a few years before, but her accent for this film was so good I had no idea she wasn’t English.”
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, June 9, 2016, “The Conjuring 2” is a New Line Cinema presentation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.