LOS ANGELES—At 12, Isabelle Fuhrman may not have met too many evil characters, but she knows what she likes. She likes the character she plays in Orphan, and she doesn’t give a damn if the rest of the world doesn’t have the same feelings. In fact, she feels that the best thing that could happen is if they can’t stand little Esther.
“If America hates me, then I have done my job,” she says in a Los Angeles hotel room. “In the movie, I am supposed to make everyone hate me. They should think both ”˜I feel sorry for you’ and ”˜I hate you.’ ”
In the movie, which is currently playing at Vancouver theatres, a couple (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) whose marriage has been tested by a miscarriage adopts a child. To their eventual regret, they choose Esther, who initially seems sweet but soon shows hostility to her classmates and new relatives.
Watch the trailer for Orphan.
Esther is not the first movie child to terrorize play dates. Child stars Patty McCormack and Macaulay Culkin were The Bad Seed and The Good Son, respectively, and other child actors have played omens and needed exorcists. Fuhrman says she doesn’t know all of Orphan’s predecessors but she doesn’t recall a lot of movie bad girls.
“Traditionally, the evil characters in films are males. There aren’t many evil female characters, as far as I know. It doesn’t seem as though there are many bad girls in movies. I do know about The Exorcist, but I have never seen it because I am freaked out by the idea of someone’s head turning around.”
This is only Fuhrman’s second feature film, but she isn’t concerned that she will only receive scripts that feature bad girls. She says that she is so far removed from Esther that she will be able to move on to other roles without too many problems.
“I am very different from the character, so I am not afraid of being typecast at all. I realize that there are a lot of casting directors who choose someone who matches the part, and even now a lot of people who meet me think I am going to be this freaky child who walks around with this glare. I know that some actresses do roles that allow them to fit into a category. But I just morphed into this person.”
She says that was possible because she felt confidence about her performance once she had found habits for Esther that were dissimilar to her own.
“Each person has different habits. Some people bite their nails; some people run their fingers thought their hair or scratch an itch. I did things that made Esther feel different from me. For instance, I like touching my hair. I don’t do it all the time, but I do run my fingers down it. So I thought Esther would do different things and that she would have a little more swing in her step, be a little more girly, because she’s just different from everyone else.”