Hitting theaters today, Annabelle, the new horror from director John R Leonetti which tells a story of a couple who begin experiencing supernatural occurrences involving an old doll. The film stars Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard, and more. I spoke to veteran actor Tony Amendola about the movie, his experience, new projects and more. #EvilEye #ANNABELLE
Jana – What makes Annabelle a good horror film?
Tony – Annabelle is taking from the cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal investigators of Connecticut who had worked with the church and other groups. And the fact that this is a true case history I think it adds a certain flavor to make a typical horror film. Also, that is an origin story for this particular doll that we met in The Conjuring, which is also a horror film. But this movie operates in more than one level: it operates as an entertainment and it also operates in a kind of good-evil, an ongoing story of a war between good and evil. And I think it makes a excited film and plus… dolls are always a little strange
Tony – When I first read the script it was because he was a priest. Then, over the years I played many types of roles, everything from businessman, lawyers, judges, drug dealers… you know, it was nice from me to work on the side and play a character who my mother would be proud of.
Jana – Did you have any special preparation for this role?
Tony – Yes! Primarily I read a book called The Demonologist by Gerald Brittle that it has all of those cases because I wanted to get a larger view. Then, I watched The Conjuring and I spoke to friends and to a priest about the movie. And because I’m an 21st century actor and I have a strange kind of way… as an actor part of that it has to be like a blank sheet of paper so we can absorb whatever role we are asked to play. When I spoke to the priest he said something really wonderful to me from his point of view and he said “to deny evil is to empower it”. So that gave me a way in to Father Perez and I had a great time playing him.
Jana – How was it working with director John R. Leonetti?
Tony – It’s a pleasure to work with him because I have a lot of respect, he is a cinematographer first. He was the cinematographer for The Conjuring so I was excited to work with him… and also others projects that I admire him for such as Sleepy Hollow, he did the cinematography as well. He comes from a different area, coming from camera and I always had great respect for that because I feel I can learn from him, and he is a big man… he has a gentle soul too and he made the set, particularly for this movie, very enjoyable to work.
Jana – Did you work closely with actor Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis?
Tony – Yes! Annabelle is… its weird since the movie is called Annabelle, so on set to not get confused with the doll, I used to call her Mia. It was fun! Ward Horton who plays John, Mia’s husband, he was very interested too because he had odd things happened when he was working on the script for the first time, trying to memorize the lines, he was in a new apartment in Los Angeles and all of a sudden one of the cabinets in the bathroom just felt down… that was strange. He had it fixed and then it did again when he was studying the script towards the end of the shoot. So that it helped to get into the mood of the horror movie.
Jana – What did you learn filming this movie?
Tony – When I came to this movie, I was not aware of a lot of stuff on demonology, the distinction between ghosts and demons, so I learned a lot by studying the Warren’s and again one of the strange coincidences is that the Warren’s used to teach a class at a college in Connecticut and I went to that school… I didn’t take that class but they were teaching while I was there … as little as I know… again when you are an actor part of the joy of being an actor is that you switched hats, sometimes… regardless if you are playing a good person or a bad person you had to see that person’s point of view.
Jana – This year, 2014, has been a really good year for you. You are in Annabelle, you are coming back as Geppetto on the TV series Once Upon a Time. What else are you working on?
Tony – Yeah! You are absolutely right; so far it’s been a great year on the television, on film… and I did something that I haven’t done at this point, I did a video game, a very popular one called World of Warcraft and it’s coming out in November. That was very excited for me because it was new. I also did some narration for a children film called The Land Before Time which is about dinosaurs. It was fun too and that was new as well.