We spoke with him at the New York Annabelle meet and greet at the Jekyll and Hyde Club Times Square.
How was it for you to play Annabelle’s father in the movie? Was it almost like a real life experience for you?
Well, in the film I play a priest. An ordinary priest, he’s just a regular who finds himself in the middle of an extraordinary situation. He thinks that when this young couple John and Mia come for aid, he thinks that possibly it has to do with her impending birth of a child. And there’s been some violence so he thinks her problem is mental perhaps it’s only later that he realizes it’s a psychological problem and that there is a demon in this doll. It was great because I got to do some reading on the Warrens who the story is based off of. It’s taken from one of their case histories.
The Conjuring is more sort of their story and Annabelle is one of the case histories. I just got to examine sort of what my beliefs are and those things as an actor. The thing that you have to realize is that I am Catholic and I do have faith but it wouldn’t make a difference because I am an actor but it needs to be on some part a blank page in that part of his work, not as a human being. So that he can absorb what the character is because this week he could be a priest, next week he could be an atheist. It was very fun, the director was lovely and I felt a certain responsibility to The Conjuring, which I hadn’t seen until I got casted and went to do my research and I got so lost in it and was so blown away by how good it was. It was a great story and it was psychological and it wasn’t the kind of horror film. There’s a place for that and people like to do that which is great but this one was more psychological.
Did you have any weird experiences?
Well there are a couple of weird things that happened on this tour. Annabelle missed the first two flights they wouldn’t let her on. TSA didn’t know what to make of her, the box, and the do no touch sign. A friend of mine Ward Horton who plays John, the male lead in the film. He’s from New York and he came back from LA. He’s in his apartment, opens the script so he could get to work and the medicine cabinet fell. He calls his landlord and his landlord is like “What?!” so they fix it and the last day he opens the script and the medicine cabinet falls again. Then we were in Phoenix and they had to go back to the hotel to get Sal some of his stuff. We go to the hotel and the door is locked, it’s a hotel the doors are always locked but the doors are never locked from the inside. You know the latch that secures? That was locked. So there have been little things like that little remembrances. I have a healthy respect for Annabelle.
Has knowing the story behind Annabelle changed the belief you had as far as spirits or demons?
It just makes you more open-minded. The 21st century we believe in science and psychics but what is psychics if not energy. And if we look at science through the ages 17th century, 18thcentury, 19th century of what science believed what was true and how it changed why should we be arrogant about our own science? Will not people in 200 hundred years be laughing at what we thought was true? It gives me pause. The first exocrist was Jesus Christ; didn’t he deal with spirits and healing people? You know it’s a tricky thing with religion; it’s a borderline thing because we’re getting into the things with demons. The church likes to push it away with the demons. It’s funny because people will believe in a crystal and those types of things.
Did you believe in demons and spirits before the movie?
No not necessarily, the movie made me open to examine that. Demons are different than ghosts, it was wonderful researching. A ghost was once somebody and demons are casted out angels.
“Annabelle” hits theaters on Oct. 3.