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– by Gig Patta

The Mullins created Annabelle. Now they can’t control her.

The prequel Annabelle: Creation looks at the origin story of the demonic-possessed doll. The story ventures back in the 1940s where a dollmaker and his wife created a vessel for an unknown spirit after the tragic death of their daughter.

The film stars Stephanie SIgman, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Talitha Bateman and Alicia Vela-Bailey. It is directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out).

LRM participated in a roundtable interview with actors Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto, who played the dollmaker and wife. In a joke-cracking interview, they talked about the attraction to the horror genre, the set, David F. Sandberg and trying to keep souvenirs from movie sets.

Annabelle: Creation will be playing in theaters nationwide this Friday, August 11.

Read the conversation transcript below:

To start, could you talk about on what attracted you to Annabelle: Creation? Who are you playing? Who are your characters?

Miranda Otto: I’m playing Esther Mullins, who is the wife to Mr. Mullins. He is the dollmaker. He is the creator to Annabelle.

Anthony LaPaglia: That’s right. [Laughs] Ripe for a spin-off, I say.

Miranda Otto: [Laughs and then whispers] The dollmaker.

Anthony LaPaglia: The dollmaker.

Miranda Otto: [Laughs] I could go to so many places with that.

Anthony LaPaglia: We’re still married. We’re still married. It’s a double life.

Miranda Otto: On what attracted me? I saw the original Annabelle film. I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed the whole world of films [in this universe]. I never been in a horror film before. I thought it would be fun, but on what cemented for me was meeting David [F. Sandberg]. I loved his story of how he created Lights Out, and on how that became viral and he came to Hollywood. He is so unaffected and a joyful person.

Anthony LaPaglia: He had no idea. [Laughs]

Miranda Otto: That’s what I love about him! He has such a strong vision as well.

Anthony LaPaglia: He totally knows what to do.

Miranda Otto: He is such fresh and lovely.

Anthony LaPaglia: When I met him to talk about the film at wherever, the end of it was the check came–he looked at me and said, “Am I supposed to pick this up?” [Laughs] I was like, “Normally, yes.” I said to him, “Did they not give you an expense account?” He shrugged, “No.” So I said, “I’m going to pick this up. But, if you decide to go in a different way—you owe me sixty bucks.” [Laughs] And when you get back in the office, tell them to give you an expense account. [Laughs]

So what attracted you to this project then? [To Anthony LaPaglia]

Anthony LaPaglia: David, and also the producer Peter Safran.

The major factor was that I have a fourteen-year-old daughter, who is into this whole genre. I didn’t know much about it. I told her something about Annabelle. Nothing I’ve ever done in my life impressed her at all. [Laughs]

Miranda Otto: You’re just not good enough.

Anthony LaPaglia: Nothing. She has never watched my show. But she went, “Oh, my gawd! You have to do that movie.” I went from okay dad to cool dad. It’s a good enough reason for me.

Finally, after fourteen years.

Anthony LaPaglia: The main thing was David. It’s his vision of the film. On what he wanted to do. Plus, it’s super-impressive on what he did before Lights Out came. I don’t know what he was doing–possibly digging potatoes or something.

Miranda Otto: He made documentaries.

Anthony LaPaglia: He made documentaries, right. He just made this enormous leap.

Miranda Otto: He never seems stressed over nervous. He is always relaxed.

Anthony LaPaglia: Yeah. It’s like, “It’s good.” [Laughs] His assurance was great. It’s what attracted me to this director.

Miranda Otto: He makes me feel very safe as an actor. I can trust him to make this movie.

Did you have a chance to improvise? Did you get to create things right there?

Miranda Otto: As far as improvising, it is pretty much set script.

That wasn’t the option all the time.

Anthony LaPaglia: Sometimes you’ll need the option. Sometimes you don’t. Horror isn’t really about the dialogue. It’s really about on what is between the dialogue.

Miranda Otto: Yeah. The feelings.

Anthony LaPaglia: It’s all about on what’s going on.

How was working with the girls?

Miranda Otto: I didn’t get to work with the girls except for the one girl who played my daughter. I met them in the makeup room. I didn’t really mind the idea that they didn’t really get to know me, because their whole thing is that they’re making up all these fantasies and who my character is. I met them, but it was kind of good to keep their distance.

The little girl who played our daughter I got to spend time with. She’s super cute.

How old is she?

Miranda Otto: I think she was about six?

Anthony LaPaglia: I think she was about thirty. [Laughs] I think all those girls are really thirty. It’s really impressive to hear them speak. At Comic-Con, Talitha is like sitting next to a seasoned veteran. She got the whole thing down. She has it altogether than me. They’re very sophisticated young girls.

My experience is the same as yours. I’ve made the decision to not be friendly or get close to them on the set. I wanted them to be a little bit in fear. [Laughs] Or not really get this guy.

But, that’s your character.

Anthony LaPaglia: Yeah. I have a fourteen-year-old daughter, so it’s easy to identify, but I decided it’s better if they’re like, “What’s this dude about?”

Can you talk a little about the props? The thing about people love about horror are the props. How was it acting with them? Did you guys keep anything?

Miranda Otto: I didn’t get to keep anything. No, I didn’t get to keep my cross. The set was so incredibly detailed. The set production designer did such an incredible job. It’s really appreciative in a film that deals with all these horrific things and ideas. It’s visually really beautiful. The cinematography is amazing.

Anthony LaPaglia: It’s not just only amazing. It’s a beautiful aged scenery. The clock stopped when the kid died. Nothing changed.

Miranda Otto: The house had its own personality.

Anthony LaPaglia: In terms of acting, the physical circumstances are always important. It’s a lot different than working on a green screen. That takes half your job and makes it easy. You have to go in and react on what’s going on.

Are you easily scared? What are you scared of?

Anthony LaPaglia: No.

Miranda Otto: I don’t know if I’m easily scared, but my biggest fear is being completely alone.

Anthony LaPaglia: That’s my greatest desire. [Laughs]

Miranda Otto: I’m never scared when people are around. If I’m living in a populated area–I don’t feel frightened. When I move somewhere like a farm…

Anthony LaPaglia: Yeah, that can be creepy.

Australia is all open. Isn’t it?

Miranda Otto: We do live in big cities. We drive cars.

Anthony LaPaglia: Yeah, we got cars just last year.

Miranda Otto: Before that, we all rode kangaroos. [Laughs]

Anthony LaPaglia: Every city like Sydney and Melbourne are pretty urban.

Does doing a movie like this give you weird dreams?

Anthony LaPaglia: No.

Miranda Otto: No, I didn’t have any weird dreams.

Is there any part of the filming you felt scared then?

Miranda Otto: It’s hard to feel scared, because there are so many people around. Everyone is so friendly and nice.

Anthony LaPaglia: The only time when I got scared was with the scene I had the crucifix and my fingers snapped back. I wasn’t scared of the thing. I was scared to make sure I wasn’t over the top and to make this work. [Laughs] As I did it, my fears were confirmed–I feel down in one take and split my pants. [Laughs] That was the scariest thing was falling on my bum.

Did you keep that cross?

Anthony LaPaglia: No.  I usually collect something…y’know…I kept the pants I split. [Laughs] I got them. Yeah, that’s it.

Miranda Otto: I do keep some things from certain movies. Not a lot.

Anthony LaPaglia: I try to keep things from every movie.

Lord of the Rings?

Miranda Otto: I got stuff from Lord of the Rings. I have my sword and I have my belt.

Anthony LaPaglia: Now I’m really…you got a sword?

Miranda Otto: Yeah, a sword.

Anthony LaPaglia: Excellent.

What’s the best thing you ever had?

Anthony LaPaglia: The best thing was this NYPD detective badge. It was a fake, but it looked real.

Miranda Otto: Does it come in handy?

Anthony LaPaglia: Never got a chance to find out. At the time, I was living in New York. There was a doorman who worked in the building. I didn’t know he was a psycho. Apparently, when I was away, he went up to my apartment and stole that badge. [Awe sounds]

The only reason I found out about it was this thing in the newspapers that they arrested this guy in Brooklyn. He had one of the biggest arsenal of guns in his apartment. They showed photo and the middle of the picture was that badge. I didn’t say shit. [Laughs] I just reacted, “Oh, fuck! Now I know where that badge is.” It’s missing from my apartment. Well, he went to jail.

What’s the appeal of being in a horror movie? Miranda, you said this was being your first time.

Miranda Otto: The great appeal is with the audience. I love the contract that the audience has with the film. I watched it with the audience and they’re so interactive with the film. They know the whole world. They’re such great fans. They’re really fun and supportive. They’re not cynical and critical. They just love it!

Anthony LaPaglia: They’re so into it.

Miranda Otto: It’s really fun to be in a film on where they are so involved. They let that out. They make noises. They scream. They along with the things. That’s one of the funnest aspect I think.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?

Anthony LaPaglia: Oh, yeah. There was a screening of it in Los Angeles. I was dead in the ear. [Laughs] It wore off by then.

You said that you were fans of the franchise beforehand. When you signed on to be part of this franchise, did you familiarize yourself to the whole thing? Or did you treat this as a separate entity? How did you handle all that?

Anthony LaPaglia: I’ve seen The Conjuring. That was on my own time before this came along. I always feel that it’s better to bring my own perspective to it. Sometimes watching other things may alter on what you bring to it. You put up this certain expectation of yourself.

Miranda Otto: What’s so nice about this script was that it’s so different to those movies as well. I like the fact that Annabelle was in The Conjuring. There are certain actors who came in to play certain special effects role, which is great, but I felt this setting is so completely different. All those movies are really different. They’re all such different worlds and it really helps when you’re making a prequel.

This movie is more of a classical horror film in some ways. It felt like Fanny and Alexander to me. It’s the way he shot it.

Anthony LaPaglia: There’s not a ton of blood and guts in it. It’s psychological. It’s that moment when the doors just open. I think it’s a more difficult way to tell a horror story. It raises the bar for the genre a little more.

What kind of journey does the audiences expect from this?

Anthony LaPaglia: I think the audiences love the idea of being in danger, but being from a safe perspective.

Miranda Otto: In their comfortable seat. [Laughs]

Anthony LaPaglia: It’s a real adrenaline rush with no consequences. I think people really like that.

Annabelle: Creation will be playing in theaters nationwide this Friday, August 11.

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @mrgigpatta.