While the main draw of the movies in the Conjuring Universe may be the demon-centric scares, what makes the franchise exceptional is the presence of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. As Ed and Lorraine Warren, the two actors have spectacular chemistry – their characters’ work as paranormal investigators being a regular demonstration of love conquering evil – and that has been a key component to the series standing out during what has been a terrific era for the horror genre. They make it look effortless… and it turns out the reason for that is because it really is.
As featured in the video at the top of this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga recently during the virtual press day for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. This now being the fourth time that they’ve played the Warrens on screen, I asked them about the conversations that they have about their characters’ relationships while preparing for filming, and the short answer is that they don’t really have any. As Farmiga explained,
I don't think we do. We just do; we don't talk about it. We just, be about it when they roll; it's pretty simple. And then you guys project onto it what you want. I'd like to take credit, but I think it's your projection of just being happy to see a marriage that works on screen.
It turns out that playing Ed and Lorraine Warren isn’t so much about preparation, but instead just about following instincts and experience when the direction calls, “Action.”
Following up on Vera Farmiga’s comments, Patrick Wilson acknowledged that there is a special quality to the relationship between Ed and Lorraine Warren on screen in the Conjuring movies, and a lot of that comes from little moments and gestures shared between the two characters. Some of them come right from the script, and others come from ideas conceived on set, but Wilson says that they aren’t accidental:
I guess if anything, we do try to find moments of moments of humor, moments of self-deprecation. You know what I mean? There are moments that to me, that's the fun stuff, private moments, quiet moments, moments without dialogue. Like the coffee without the sugar – just little moments of that, the 'Hold my purse' in this one. There's so many of those moments that are, maybe they're scripted, maybe they're not, but it's definitely a choice. We want to really round them out.
Anyone who has seen a Conjuring movie can attest that Ed and Lorraine Warren have seen their relationship tested by evil and death, but, as Patrick Wilson continued to explain, their bond isn’t simply forged in crisis. There are more dimensions to it, and that’s something that is not only important to have in a romance at the heart of a horror movie, but any romance in any story. Said Wilson,
I think that levity and that humor is really part of the romance to be honest with you. You can't just have two people in any romantic movie, actually, if you just break it down to that, you can't just have two romantic people just screaming. 'I love you' at each other. Like you have to have the ins and outs and the kind of clunky parts and then the rebound. That's the fun stuff. And I think we both look for that with these characters, because this has become our version of their idyllic marriage as it sits in the Conjuring Universe.
Fans of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga will be able to see the two stars back in action as Ed and Lorraine Warren, as Michael Chaves’ The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It will be arriving in theaters nationwide and streaming on HBO Max starting tomorrow, June 4. This time around the two protagonists won’t be creeping around another haunted house, but instead will be on an investigation, and it is arguably the darkest chapter in the franchise yet.