The Nun: Are Sister Irene and Father Burke Based on Real People?

A spin-off of ‘The Conjuring’ universe, 2018’s ‘The Nun‘ takes the audience to an abbey in Romania in the 1950s. The suicide of a nun garners the interest of the Church, which sends a seasoned exorcist and a novice nun to figure out what is going on at the abbey. The duo soon realizes they are in the presence of an evil much stronger and more dangerous than initially anticipated. The truth about the place comes to light with each step inside the abbey.

One of the things about watching movies in ‘The Conjuring’ universe is that they are labeled as being based on true events. They feature real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, which adds authenticity to the story. The same, however, is not true for ‘The Nun.’

The Nun’s Protagonists are Entirely Fictional

While ‘The Conjuring’ movies are mostly fictional, they take a strand from reality. They simply lay the ground with enough facts to make it seem real. To add the same air of authenticity to ‘The Nun,’ a few things are added in the movie’s final twist. For the most part, however, all the events and characters, including Sister Irene and Father Burke, remain fictional.

A spin-off about the malevolent entity was conceived after the popularity of the Nun, aka Valak, in the second Conjuring movie. When Taissa Farmiga was made aware of the role of Sister Irene, she felt compelled to play it, primarily because it was unlike anything she’d played before, even though she already had her fair share of experience with horror movies and TV shows. Because she didn’t have a reference point in real life, she researched nuns’ lives. Though she didn’t meet a real nun, she spent hours pouring over everything available. She referenced Audrey Hepburn’s ‘The Nun’s Story’ and used that as a jumping point to present her own version of the horror film.

Farmiga was interested in maintaining the physicality of the character, from which she also channeled the emotional strength that Sister Irene would need to get through the events of the film. She wanted Irene’s desire for self-perfection to appear in everything, from her humble walk to her quiet steps to her not talking without a purpose. The way Irene held herself was important as it would reflect who she really was, helping the audience understand her and connect with her in a limited space of time.

The Location Helped Set the Mood for Horror

When it came to the horror element and reacting to it, the actress revealed that it wasn’t very difficult. The location gave them enough to get into the vibe and bring fear into their performances. Filming in locations in ancient castles and cemeteries in Romania had a huge impact on the actors’ performances. Actor Demián Bichir, who plays Father Burke, also reiterated Farmiga’s point of feeding off the location’s gothic feel. Moreover, Bonnie Adams, who plays Valak, missed no opportunity to scare Farmiga and kept the actress on her toes.

Apart from the physicality of her performance, Farmiga revealed that she felt closer to Irene because of her inherent sense of goodness. Her desire to be true to her faith and do whatever it takes to help the people around her is something that Farmiga has always been receptive to in other people. The actress believes kindness to be a potent emotion in a person, and Irene had that. Through her character, Farmiga wanted to show the strength that being good gives to a person and how it can defeat any evil, no matter how powerful it may seem at the time. With this, she breathed life into the otherwise fictional character of Sister Irene.

Read More: The Nun: Movies Like The 2018 Horror Film