James Wan’s terrifying sequel The Conjuring 2 has now arrived in theaters, and we recently caught up with two of the franchise’s newcomers, Frances O’Connor and Madison Wolfe, at the press day for the film.

During the roundtable interview, both actresses discussed their respective characters Peggy and Janet Hodgson, and Wolfe chatted about meeting her real-life counterpart on set and how that influenced her performance. O’Connor also talked about working alongside her younger co-stars, and the pair reflected on what they (and their vocal chords) endured while collaborating with Wan on The Conjuring 2.

Can you both talk about these troubled characters that you play, and if there was anything you found research-wise while preparing for these roles?

Frances O’Connor: There is so much stuff online that you can access in terms of real footage.

Madison Wolfe: Oh yeah, there are tons of videos on YouTube and real interviews and pictures, if you just google “Enfield Poltergeist.” Which I did, and it was really helpful for me to understand the situation they went through.

Frances O’Connor: There's so much stuff out there. It is actually really scary, a lot of it. There are also a lot of audio recordings you can listen to, hours and hours of the mother talking with that British journal, and her kids, too. It was helpful doing all of that.

Then I went up to Enfield, because I live in London, so I went up to Enfield and just went to where the house was and looked at the house. I also talked to some of the people from Enfield, and just got a feel for that kind of area nearby, so I could know that community.

Does anybody live there in that house still?

Frances O’Connor: Yeah, there are people living in that house. It's not going to be good once this film comes out; there are going to be a lot of people knocking on their door.

How about for you, Madison?

Madison Wolfe: I did get to meet Janet and Margaret, Peggy’s daughters. That really did influence my performance, because it made me want to tell their story as well as I could. They deserve that much, after all they went through, for their story to be told tastefully.

And it was helpful for me, because we actually gave them a tour, we walked them through the fake house that was built on the Warner Brothers lot. I can remember her walking through and telling me, "This is where this happened," and, "This chair was a little to the left." She remembered, to the tee, perfectly. Margaret cried. Janet cried, too. Walking through their house, I guess it was just a rollercoaster of emotions, being back, because the house was so realistic.

How was it working with James Wan? Because it's a pretty strenuous and physical movie, so I’m guessing he put you both through the paces like he did with Vera and Patrick.

Madison Wolfe: I remember there were some days on set where we would all be screaming for hours and hours and hours, and they would have to bring us cups of tea and honey over and over again, and hot water—they tried everything. It was tiring, but James was great.

Frances O’Connor: There were hard days when you’d be screaming for hours and then the next day, you'd have a scene where you were just talking and because your voice was so stretched out from screaming for five hours, it would sound weird. It required a lot of adrenaline, too, so you have to be able to turn it on all the time. You felt a bit thin at the end of it, just depleted. The kids were great, though. They'd just turn up the next day like nothing ever happened and they’d do it all again.

Frances, what was it like to work with the young cast?

Frances O’Connor: They were all great. Madison is amazing on set in terms of how she created her character, and has showed such maturity. The boys were great, but that was the first time they'd been on set, so it was a big learning curve for them. They're like, "We're still working?" That was really challenging for them, but they were so great, and their moms were great, too, actually, on set. They were really lovely.

What was the most challenging thing you had to do on The Conjuring 2?

Frances O’Connor: We did a lot of stuff with water and rain and it's just hard to be wet for the whole day and still stay cheery. The crew enjoyed it, though [laughs]. They're like, "Ha ha, you're wet." But for me, that was quite tough, just endurance-wise.

Also, I just felt like sometimes, technically, what was required had to be so on the mark perfect in terms of coming here, hitting the mark, and knowing the camera's there, looking at this little point that's supposed to be our villain. The technical requirements were quite challenging, but fun, where I could push myself and say, "Let's see if I can do this. Let's go again." Stuff like that.

Madison, you're from Louisiana, which has this great history to it, but also has a bit of a weird vibe as well. Has that informed you at all as an actor?

Madison Wolfe: Yes, because New Orleans definitely is a place with a lot of history. If you go into the French Quarter in New Orleans, there are tons of cemeteries and old buildings and stuff you can definitely go and look at. It’s incredible, but it’s also a little scary. I don't know if I've ever seen a ghost, but I do think I've been in places with a lot weird energy, I guess, so I do think there’s something more going on in that city.


For more insights into James Wan's latest film, check out Heather's previous coverage of The Conjuring 2:

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.