Isabelle Fuhrman, aptly dubbed a “horror icon” and star of the psychological horror Orphan (2009), will reprise her role as nine-year-old Esther in the upcoming prequel Oprhan: First Kill. However, Fuhrman will embody Esther once more — now at age 25 — without the assistance of CGI or makeup alterations, which she has called a “challenge.”
Orphan co-stars Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) and Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven) as a couple who lost their child and choose to adopt nine-year-old Esther — who turns out to be a 33-year-old woman mental patient escapee, with a rare hormonal disorder that stunted her growth. Fuhrman commented on reprising the role in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
I love the challenge of being able to play a kid because that’s never historically been done in cinema — I was like looking all this up, because I love looking up old movie history and things like that, and I was like, ‘Oh, an adult has never reprised the role that they played as a child. Will Smith, for example, recently did that movie [Gemini Man] where they de-age somebody, but to reprise a role that you literally did as a kid as an adult has never been done before. It’s kind of impossible. And we did it. We didn’t use special effects, we didn’t use any crazy makeup tricks. And I think that’s what makes the movie work, is because you really can’t figure out how I look like a [nine-year-old], but I do. And it’s really creepy.
I was there every day. I know how we did this. I know all the tricks, and I’m so thoroughly disturbed right now, because I somehow am nine years old again, and it doesn’t make any sense … I was like, ‘How do I revisit this part and then also convincingly play a kid?’ Because that was the easy part last time, the hard part was trying to be an adult. Now the hard part is I have to be kid.
Additionally, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Fuhrman says she felt some trepidation to reprise her role because she’s been trying to venture away from horror movies because that’s all people perceive her as. The script had been floating around for a while, and Fuhrman called writer David Leslie Johnson following a 2019 Dr. Phil episode in which a Ukrainian orphan is accused of lying about her age, and told him now is the time to get the movie made.”
As a producer on the set of Orphan: First Kill, Fuhrman had the opportunity to be part of the creative process as well as steal the spotlight on-screen. She continued to describe the disbelief she felt from portraying a young girl 15 years younger than her current age.
I was there every day. I know how we did this. I know all the tricks, and I’m so thoroughly disturbed right now, because I somehow am nine years old again, and it doesn’t make any sense… I was like, how do I revisit this part and then also convincingly play a kid? Because that was the easy part last time, the hard part was trying to be an adult. Now the hard part is I have to be kid.
Orphan: First Kill sees Fuhrman return as Esther alongside Julia Stiles as Katie Mauerova and Rossif Sutherland as Richard Mauerova. The film is directed by William Brent Bell, from a screenplay by David Coggeshall, and a story by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Alex Mace (who wrote the screenplay and story to its predecessor, respectively).
The official synopsis for Orphan: First Kill from Paramount Pictures reveals:
Leena Klammer is a woman suffering from hypopituitarism, after impersonating as “Esther”, the missing daughter of Katie Mauerova and Richard Mauerova. Katie becomes convinced that it isn’t her daughter, while Richard disagrees, believing that his wife is suffering from paranoia and hallucinating. Leena tries to separate them, causing some major problems to the family. But Katie was quick to discover Leena’s dark past and murderous history, threatening her, Leena becomes outrageous, committing her “First Kill”.
It was originally believed that Orphan: First Kill would release on January 28, 2022, but that information has since been deemed unofficial, and the release date is still up in the air.