SAN FRANCISCO — Lili Taylor had to work herself into physically and emotionally demanding fits of fear, then madness, and maintain them at a fever pitch through many a harrowing take during the filming of “The Conjuring,” director James Wan's fact-based hit film about demonic possession.
And the 46-year-old actress admits she was drained at the end of the day.
“Well, I knew what it entailed, and I thought it was only going to be about two weeks to get back up to speed, but I realized I needed about a month,” Taylor said during recent roundtable interviews with reporters, hosted by New Line Cinema at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
“I was fine, but I wasn't really quite as fast as I usually move,” she added with a laugh.
Taylor plays Carolyn Perron, a woman who is targeted by a dark presence after moving into an old, secluded, rural Rhode Island farmhouse with her husband, Roger (played by Ron Livingston), and their five young daughters.
Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious”) directs from a script by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes (“The Reaping”), which is based on an actual case from the files of real-life paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren, portrayed in the film by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.
The Perrons are at first delighted with the old house and the peace of country living, until a series of strange occurrences begins to upset their happy home. Whispers are heard in the night, then footsteps, and the growing feeling of another presence. Carolyn awakens each morning with new bruises on her arms and legs, having no idea how they were sustained.
Then there's loud banging on the door in the middle of the night, but no one's there. A hidden basement is discovered, containing evidence that something horrible may have occurred in the house many years ago, leaving an evil, invisible stain on the residence. Then incidents escalate from disturbing to terrifying when family members — particularly Carolyn — are subjected to physical harm.
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