Taissa Farmiga was still a teenager when she made her feature film debut with a breakout role in the indie feature “Higher Ground,” which premiered to critical acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Now at the young age of 24, Farmiga stars in the lead role of novitiate Sister Irene in New Line Cinema’s horror-thriller “The Nun.”
In the film, a young nun at an abbey in Transylvania has committed the ultimate sin: taking her own life. Now it is imperative that the church determine if the ground is still holy, or if evil has compromised the Abbey of St. Carta. To address the dire situation, the Vatican enlists the expertise of Father Burke (Demian Bichir), a clergyman from Philadelphia and one of only a few skilled in testing the validity of miracles and darker phenomenon. He is joined in the mission by Sister Irene, a novitiate at St. Vincent’s Hospital in England.
Farmiga says, “I think Sister Irene believes this is going to be a straightforward mission. She doesn’t know how extreme this journey will be, or what kind of emotional strength she will have to muster. And I don’t think she was ready for the evil existing in the abbey.”
Bichir notes, “At first, her size fools Father Burke, but even though Sister Irene is petite and may look fragile, he learns she can be feisty and I think Father Burke admires that. Sister Irene is very strong because her spirit is strong.”
Sister Irene has a past littered with pain, and while her troubled youth may have led her to the convent, it is also why she has yet to take her vows. “She is also dealing with inner demons,” Farmiga observes. “As a child, she had visions and dreams that haunted her. As a young woman, the church had welcomed her and encouraged her to devote herself to God by becoming a nun, and she willingly followed that because as she got on that path, the visions faded away. But she never really got an answer for them, and I think the reason she was so open to going on this journey was finding the truth. She is questioning her future, asking: ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’”
Farmiga invested so deeply in her character that she actually battled nightmares over the course of the production. Director Corin Hardy offers, “Taissa is an incredibly gifted actress and in creating the fear her character goes through, she was constantly faced with these terrifying visions and traumatizing moments. She really went the distance in getting Sister Irene to respond the way she does, so the audience can feel it too. I’m indebted to her for that.”
In Philippine cinemas Thursday, September 6, The Nun is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company.