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SDCC 2018 Interview: The Nun Director Corin Hardy

At San Diego Comic-Con 2018, Screen Rant sat down with The Nun director Corin Hardy to discuss the film, which opened in theaters on September 7, 2018. The Nun is a spinoff of The Conjuring 2 and the fifth installment overall in the successful horror franchise, which also includes the Annabelle series.

Screen Rant: So you've been tasked with a pretty important spin off to a pretty big horror franchise. The Nun. Will you please give our viewers a little description about the movie?

Corin Hardy: Sure. Well no, it was a real exciting prospect to be given the reins to the next installment of The Conjuring universe. You know, as a fan of horror and, you know, of James Wan and what he's created. It was a....responsibility but a real opportunity to be able to dive into the...the world of The Conjuring and with The Nun it's.....we're taking it right back. It's like the first origin story of Valak and The Nun takes us back to 1952 in Romania and it's a little bit more of an adventure mystery horror movie....this one....who we follow a priest played by Demián Bichir and a novitiate nun, Taissa Farmiga....as they go and investigate the goings ons in an abbey in the mountains of Romania.

SR: And were you given any guidelines like did James Wan give you any direction or did you have creative freedom to do with what you wanted to?

CH: Very much.....James was very supportive and I was aware of the guidelines really because, you know, as a horror fan and I'd seen all of The Conjuring and the Annabelle and the movies of James. So it was, he was encouraging the movie and the actual script was very clear that it's taking it to a new, different direction actually because it wasn't, you know, set in a family household or....he was taking it to Romania to this castle in this world of cemeteries and convents and....moonlit, foggy graveyards and very kind of classic gothic horror. So I felt I could bring myself to that, that's a world I feel comfortable in. And so it was just a quite of a collaborative process. Wasn't like there was rules to adhere to so much as I knew I'm in making the next Conjuring movie. So I wanted it to fit in with that as well.

SR: We know that this is a spinoff of The Conjuring. It came from The Conjuring. But was there an inspiration for you behind The Nun while you were filming this?

CH: I mean there was a number of movies that inspired me that always, I suppose, inspire me and so what was exciting was having them in mind when making a film like The Nun. It was very....it is, I think the word I would use is classic and....and Gothic and there's not a lot of movies I don't think that are being....that are being made at the moment which have this kind of world which incorporates that old style in a way. I mean....the lighting for instance is very much gas lanterns and candle light and moonlight and it's a period movie. But, uh, so it was.....I can't remember what you asked me. *laughs*

SR: Your take of The Nun, what inspired you….

CH: Oh yeah. So yeah, no, it was, I guess classic movies....what I grew up watching, what James grew up watching, Gary Dauberman, Hammer horror movies...Dracula....Exorcist. Actually, The Exorcist 3 was one which....really I've always loved as well. It comes from mysteries, like Name of the Rose. I....I rewatched Black Narcissus to sort of get inspired by rich, kind of, colors and compositions....Coppola's Dracula. So it was....it was really exciting to be able to incorporate that. Maybe a little tiny hint of Temple of Doom as well.

SR: Oh, nice! *laughs*

CH: Yeah.

The Abbey in The Nun

SR: And what is the set like when working on a horror film. How are the actors…when you're directing them? Is it….is it hard for them? Is it really scary on set?

CH: I think.....I think there's a lot of fun. You know, you end up in these quite ridiculous situations because you're trying to create a certain type of an atmosphere and it requires a lot of, obviously a lot of focus and....but you do find yourself in some strange situations. We tried, I tried to make sure everyone feels comfortable and enjoying the process of getting through a movie like this. It's pretty intense, you know, there's a lot of late nights and....out in the middle of Romania in the night in a, in a cemetery, you know, in a grave or underwater or in a dark tunnel when, you know, kind of....the actors got put through a lot, you know, but then I think my mission at the start is to find actors who are the best but also who are up for going for it....and I think horror movie....is a lot of fun to make, but it's like this....It can be....you've got to find people who are up for the challenge. And Damien Bashir was very much....wanting to do his own stance and....Sorry, I'm getting really distracted. (someone walked into the room)

CH: What were you saying?

SR: The feel on set, you were talking about how it was filmed in Romania…the setting is in Romania….

CH: Right...Yeah, no...it was very....

SR: You made the actors feel comfortable…

CH: Yeah. And.... it was real authentic locations....in Transylvania, North Romania. So we were in castles and convents and ice houses in the rural villages there as well.

SR: And taking on these authentic settings. Did you guys find any hauntings? Like was there anything creepy that happened on set?

CH: Yeah, there was actually. There was....there was a few things. I mean we....I'm, I'm sort of firmly entrenched in just creating something so I don't really, I'm not thinking of anything really scary going to happen. We did....New Line always has a priest come and bless the sets as a....precaution because of the movies. And so we had a real Romanian priest come and did a whole kind of practice and he....brought out this holy water and was splashing it all over...all over my face at one point. But then there was a....there was a period halfway through where we were....it was getting pretty intense. Everyone's getting quite tired. We're filming late nights. We were in a underground bunker, like a fortress, called [Mogashway?] fortress, a real Romanian fortress that was used to house weapons....throughout the war. And I was filming this sequence in this corridor of crosses 200 foot long, deep dark dank corridor, Taissa was in there and the camera was on a long track. We're having to do this complex movement and the only place for me to be able to sit to see what the camera....look at my monitors was one of these cells off of this long corridor. So if you imagine a 200 foot long dark corridor it was pitch black down there, these cells off the side, I'm situated inside, one there's only one door in and out of it. And as I walked into the darkness, I saw two men sitting in the room who I presumed were part of the sound department just sort of sitting watching. So I sort of said hello. And turned my back on him because I'm watching the monitors and they were sitting there and I was concentrating on the shot and coordinating it and just shouting out things. And it took a while and half an hour later I got the shot and I was like, Brilliant, Yes, we got it. And I turned to the men to say like, did you see it. I turn over, and there's no one in the room and there never was anyone in the room. They were....and there was only, the only way in and out was this door in front of me into the tunnel corridor. So I genuinely felt like I had a little run in with a pair of Romanians, ghosts, maybe soldiers who died in this building.

SR: I mean, well, it seems only fitting and I guess it kind of adds to the essence of the movie. Right?

CH: Yeah.

SR: And it sounds like you had to film in some complicated locations. Did that affect your creativity and filming? Did you have to make due with what you had or?

CH: I mean, for me it's always a really good start to try and do everything for real as much as you can with, with, you know, locations and effects and practical effects. And part of, I think the end result of a movie that makes you scared or believe the world is, is that it's, it all feels grounded in a sense. This is not a movie that’s very CG. So to have, you know, these real locations is a really good start point. It makes it difficult, but that's all part of I think what's important. If you've got to face the challenges....I enjoy the challenge of something being difficult. I'd rather that than shoot against a green screen and not have anything there, you know.

SR: Well, this movie sounds intense. I love the stories you had behind it. I can't wait to see it. When can we expect to see it?

CH: It comes out all over the planet, I think on September the seventh.

SR: Wonderful. That's coming up. Thank you so much.

CH: Nice to meet you.

SR: Nice to meet you too.

CH: Alright.

MORE: Taisa Farmiga and Demián Bichir Interview for The Nun

This #SDCC post is brought to you in partnership with Regal Cinemas.

Key Release Dates
  • The Nun (2018) release date: Sep 07, 2018
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