Annabelle Comes Home is the third installment of the hugely successful Annabelle films, starring the infamous sinister doll from The Conjuring universe, and this one tells the story of what happened when demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) brought it home to place it behind sacred and blessed glass in the locked artifacts room in their home. When the evil spirits in the room are awakened by the possessed doll, they all set their sights on the Warrens’ young daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace), her babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman) and Mary Ellen’s best friend Daniela (Katie Sarife).
On November 14, 2018, Collider (along with a handful of other online outlets) was invited to the set on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, Calif., where we got to talk to 12-year-old actress Mckenna Grace (Captain Marvel, The Haunting of Hill House). During the interview, which was held on a soundstage in a room that was filled with a variety of crosses (one of which would periodically spin on the wall), photos and posters from previous films in the universe, she spoke about playing Ed and Lorraine Warren’s daughter, what a huge fan of horror movies she is, getting the set blessed, scary and unexplained experiences on set, creepy dolls, and whether she’d like to return for another film.
Question: What’s it like for you to play these scary roles in these scary movies?
MCKENNA GRACE: So exciting because I’m a big, huge fan of horror movies. My dad and I watch them, all the time. So, I feel really thankful to get to be doing this.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
GRACE: The Shining is my favorite.
Have you watched the other films in this universe?
GRACE: Oh, yes, I love the other films. They’re amazing!
No nightmares or anything?
GRACE: It depends on which one, what time we watch it, and how dark it is in the room.
What can you tell us about your character in this movie?
GRACE: She’s very kind. She knows a lot about paranormal stuff because she’s Ed and Lorraine’s daughter, which is pretty cool. There’s not too much I can tell you about her, except the obvious that she’s the Warrens’ daughter. I can’t really spoil anything. It’s a mystery.
What is your character’s relationship like with her babysitter, Mary Ellen?
GRACE: They have a really good relationship. They’re like sisters to each other. She feels a lot more comfortable around Mary Ellen. She feels safe and happy. She can have more fun around her.
Since they play your parents, did Vera Farmiga or Patrick Wilson give you any advice when you came on set, or when you got the role?
GRACE: They were here for only a short period of time, but what I do know is that they are very lovely and nice, and I’m so happy to have gotten to work with them. They’re amazing! I do have a big responsibility to live up to because they’re so good in all of the other films. I’m like, “I hope I do as good as them!”
What was it like to have a set blessing on a film like this?
GRACE: Very exciting! I was looking forward to it because they planned it one week, but then they moved it to another week, and they kept moving it. But then, we finally got it done and Mr. Father Tom, who was our priest, was very, very kind and nice. He gave me a rosary that was blessed by Pope Francis, and it smells like roses, so that was very exciting. He brought holy water and he recited this prayer in the artifacts room, and I was like, “Goodness gracious!” And he blessed me, Madison [Iseman] and Katie [Sarife]. It was so exciting! I loved it. It was a really cool experience.
Have you had any scary experiences on set, or had to do any scenes where you have to be scared, that actually scared you?
GRACE: I’ve done about three scared scenes so far, and I haven’t been too scared in those, but I do have a scary story. On one of the first days, I came and looked at the house that they built, on set. We were doing our rehearsal and my nose was pouring blood, all of a sudden. The lights were off because they had to re-set something, and I was like, “There’s blood!” And then, as soon as I stepped outside to go to the restroom to get a tissue, it stopped. It was creepy. But then we had the set blessing, so everything is good now.
You also saw a figure out in the Newhall house, didn’t you?
GRACE: Yes! There was this statue thing. It had its eyes closed, but to me, it looked like they were open. I was like, “Oh, that’s fun!” It was creepy. And then, one day, our trailer lights were just out, at the end of the day. None of the other trailer lights were off. There were two trailers, and the other one wasn’t off. It was so weird. They wouldn’t turn on and off, so they had to go re-set stuff. After they re-set it, they were like, “Everything is perfect. Why isn’t it turning on?” It just wouldn’t turn on. It took them 15 minutes to figure it out. It was crazy!
Have you had a doll in your life that was creepy, or that scared you, or that you didn’t want in your room anymore?
GRACE: Absolutely! Jenny was my mom’s doll, from whenever she was a little girl. Goodness gracious, it’s frightening! It’s like our own little Annabelle, who lives in our garage. It’s so creepy because she shaved its head. The hair was really short, and then she cut off the bangs, so it was all sticking up. It’s a really creepy doll! It lives in the garage now.
Who would win in a fight, Annabelle or Jenny?
GRACE: I think they’d be fighting and it would be quite a fair match, but in the end, they’d team up because they’re both evil and awful and demonic. They’d team up to ruin the world.
Do you want to keep doing horror movies, especially if they want to bring you back for another one of these films?
GRACE: Oh, yes! That would be amazing, if they brought me back for another! I’d freak out! When I found out that I got this one, I was at cheerleading practice, and I started crying.
What do your friends at school think, when you tell them about what it’s like to go to work?
GRACE: I’m home-schooled, so I bring my friends to set with me. My stuffed animals are my bestest of friends. I FaceTime my friends a lot, like my best friend Augie, and we talk about being on set. It’s really fun.
Annabelle Comes Home is out in theaters on June 28th.