Honestly, I am not sure how to introduce what happens below other than to make three things clear: One, this is an interview with both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson because they have their third movie in The Conjuring series coming out this weekend, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, in which they once again play paranormal investigators, Lorriane and Ed Warren. (In this one, based on a true story, they investigate the case of a man who killed a person while, he says, he was possessed by the devil.)
Two, no matter how anything reads, the mood was always pretty light – in that there was a lot of laughing. And three, when my Zoom call started the first thing I heard was a publicist sarcastically saying, “Okay … that went well.” Which means something did not go well and I was being thrust into the situation right after. And what happens next, well, let’s just say that both Farmiga and Wilson’s personalities are true forces of nature and this went to some very strange places.
See, now I feel like I’m following something sinister. And now me, the chucklehead, comes in…
Patrick Wilson: This is all true. This is good. Especially the word “chucklehead.” Well done.
The last time I talked to Vera was in 2010 and I remember you had just worked with James Caan and I had said I bet you have some stories and I’ll never forget: you paused, sighed, and just said, “Jimmy Caan.”
Vera Farmiga: Oh, lord. Jimmy Caan… Yeah. My lips are still zipped.
Patrick Wilson: Anytime you can say, “Jimmy Caan,” it’s good to go. You’re good by me.
Now that this is the third Conjuring movie, are you two friends? Do you text outside of work? Like how we hear, “oh, The Avengers are friends”…
Patrick Wilson: Well, they’re lying. No, I’m kidding. Yes, we text outside of work. Yes, we do.
And if secretly you don’t like each other, then I feel bad I brought that up.
Patrick Wilson: [Laughs] No. We like each other a lot.
Vera Farmiga: He is a solid presence in my life.
We’re really far into this franchise now. So I just assume you two have a good working relationship by this point.
Patrick Wilson: No one’s forcing us to do these movies. This is a choice. So I believe in making good choices in life, and this would be one of them, over and over.
So you didn’t sign a 10-movie contract eight years ago, and now you’re like, “Damn, I have seven more of these to do”?
Patrick Wilson: We did not. No.
So here’s something I keep wondering about when I watch these movies…
Patrick Wilson: You do a lot of wondering.
Yes, I do.
Patrick Wilson: Sorry. Keep going, keep going, keep going. [Laughing] Like I said, this is going great, this is going great. Keep going.
Would you prefer if I didn’t wonder? “Look, I literally have no questions for either of you. I’m sorry.”
Vera Farmiga: [Laughing] Never lose your sense of wonder, Mike, never.
Patrick Wilson: That’s exactly right.
“I watched this movie and I came away with nothing and I don’t know why they want me to talk to you.”
Vera Farmiga: Come on, what did you walk away with, Mr. Ryan?
I walked away with this…
Vera Farmiga: What did you walk away with?
I know these are based on a true story, but I don’t really believe these stories at all, but I love these movies.
Patrick Wilson: [Laughing] I love it. I love it. I love that so much.
Vera Farmiga: So, Mike, you do not believe in spiritual warfare, in any form?
I don’t believe the Devil made this person murder another person, no.
Vera Farmiga: I didn’t ask that question, Mr. Ryan.
Then I misunderstood.
Vera Farmiga: I asked, do you believe in spiritual warfare? He doesn’t want to just answer these questions.
I don’t know what happens when we die, I’ll say that.
Vera Farmiga: I’m not asking about death. I’m asking about spiritual warfare, warfare of the spiritual sort.
I don’t even know what that means. Spiritual warfare? Like spirits fighting? Do I believe in spirits?
Vera Farmiga: Do you believe that there are negative forces at play in this world and beyond?
Yes, from other human beings.
Vera Farmiga: And beyond?
Vera Farmiga: Yeah.
Well, what do you think?
Vera Farmiga: No, no, no, this is you first.
No, I don’t. I don’t think there’s a demon possessing someone to commit murder. You said that’s not the question, but that sounds like that’s part of “spiritual warfare.” So if you’re asking if I believe in possession, no, but I like these movies. I think I just like watching you two do this stuff.
Vera Farmiga: I love that.
Patrick Wilson: Fantastic.
Vera Farmiga: That’s an awesome answer. I love that, Mike Ryan.
Patrick Wilson: Love it. I’ll take it.
Do you believe in spiritual warfare?
Vera Farmiga: Mike, I look at the news today, and I’m feeling like there is negative mysticism at play. I look at everything that comes in, on my little notifications I get, where it’s a kidnapping. There’s so much negativity. It makes me wonder, it makes me wonder. Something, the synergy, these negative forces seem really real at the moment. Whether I believe it or not, I don’t know.
You went with “kidnapping” over the pandemic, or the attempted coup. There’s a lot to choose from.
Vera Farmiga: No, that’s the last thing that I just received.
Oh, I see.
Vera Farmiga: Where the little girl is at her school bus stop in a rural area. And she’s kidnapped by a very large man. And she fought her way out of his claws.
Is she okay?
Patrick Wilson: She saved her own life. Yeah.
Vera Farmiga: She saved her own life, so I’m like, show the kids, show that this is real. Show that there are evil, evil people out there, doing evil things. So, Mike, that’s just one of the bazillion things that I noted today. What is going on? Why is going on? Anyway, we digress. I’m so glad that you loved watching us do this.
That’s a good transition.
Patrick Wilson: Very good. Very good. Vera should be a TV anchor.
She could do it.
Patrick Wilson: Turn on a dime. Keep going, Mike. Keep it going. Give us a good question.
How do both of you wrap your heads around these characters? Who I think, in real life, believed what they’re saying. I think?
Vera Farmiga: Well, our characters do, hook, line, and sinker.
Well, I know your characters do. I’m talking about the real people they are based on, I think believe, too. You have to take people on a journey that’s based off a true thing, that if you read about the real story, there’s more to it. But like I said, I do like these movies.
Vera Farmiga: I get it. I’m not judging like that, dude. I’m not judging. I just do. I just do. You know?
Patrick Wilson: I also think it’s totally normal and commonplace and I think required that people judge – maybe not judge – that question their religion and their upbringing. You know? So that’s kind of how I wrap my head around it. Because if being a devout religious person keeps you morally sound and keeps you happy and have a steady life, then more power to you. So, I feel like our way in with these guys is that they are devout Catholics. My views of Catholicism have no bearing. Who cares?
Well, I care.
Patrick Wilson: Well …
Vera Farmiga: The way that I digest this is that I look at Lorraine, she cares so deeply for others. Compassion. She’s full of compassion. I find her to be just someone who’s full of joy and hope, compassion and gratitude and a sense of wonder. [Laughs] Just like you, Mike.
Patrick Wilson: By the way, also, because we really kind of don’t dig into, “Oh, come on. Do you really believe what they did?” And the reality is, I mean, man, I was looking at some video of Joel Osteen, peddling his book. Right?
Patrick Wilson: And you look at the house that dude lives in, and the private jets, and all this just excessive money? Wow, how do you justify a that wrapped around Jesus’s teachings? Right? How do you wrap your head around that? And so, then I think of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and it just pales in comparison. How do you question these people that really, as far as financially, certainly lived a very humble life, their entire lives? I mean, same house, we’ve been to it. So there’s not really any great mystery of like, “Ha ha, we got these people that give us tons of money.” That didn’t happen. That didn’t happen.
Vera Farmiga: No, they didn’t charge. You know? Not a single penny.
Patrick Wilson: And so, if somebody gives an exorcism and it works, now we can sit here and question. And you can sit with 10 doctors and priests and ask, “Do exorcisms work? Is it just mental illness?” At the end of the day, I try to justify it with it: That person can be free from whatever were their shackles. Right? Their metaphoric shackles, whatever it is. If they’ve gotten psychiatric care, or spiritual guidance. If that helps them in their life, who cares?
Vera Farmiga: Absolutely. Right. That ritual just might be the key.
Patrick Wilson: That’s exactly right. I think the ritual of the church, it’s exactly right.
That’s a good way to put it.
Vera Farmiga: Yeah, it is. I was just remembering, just retelling stories, my two-year-old, I brought to South Africa when I was filming, and he had this nasty habit of sucking on his pacifier. And he had this massive pink rash around his whole face. And I said, “We’re going to go up to Table Mountain, the seventh wonder of the world, and you’re going to toss that pacifier into the sea, and you will be healed of it.” And he did.
Patrick Wilson: That’s awesome.
Vera Farmiga: And he did. And then he threw it overboard and he never thought about another pacifier ever again. But that ritual, sometimes extreme rituals are important.
Patrick Wilson: Did you retrieve the plastic?
Vera Farmiga: No, I didn’t. I know.
Patrick Wilson: Sorry, the environmentalist in me is just…
Vera Farmiga: Trust me. I know. Trust me. I didn’t know if I wanted to tell this story on record.
Patrick Wilson: Aw, dang it.
Vera Farmiga: I’m sorry.
Patrick Wilson: My god. I’ve got to go to South Africa now.
Vera Farmiga: God, I know, and my husband, man, he’s like save the oceans and all that, and I tossed it right in the water. I know. I apologize for that.
I feel we’re breaking through here, and we’re out of time. We’re finally getting into it…
Vera Farmiga: [Laughs] Oh, Mike…
We’ve dug deep into this. We’re getting there, and now I’m out of time.
Patrick Wilson: Like I said, this is going well.
See, what’s going to happen now, I’m going to get off here, and everyone’s going to be sarcastic about me, but I had fun. This was good.
Patrick Wilson: You know what? I’m never using the word “chucklehead” again. But if I do, it’s going to go with Mike Ryan. So it’s all good, man.
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ opens in theaters and streams via HBO Max on June 4th. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.