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Orphan: First Kill Director Brent Bell on Expanding 2009 Film's Legacy

When Brent Bell decided to take on Orphan: First Kill, a couple of challenges lay ahead. First was dealing with the physical changes of now 25-year-old star Isabelle Fuhrman, who played Esther in the original 2009 film Orphan. The actress was ten while working on the Jaume Collet-Serra film playing the character who conned her way into being adopted by a family, later to be revealed to be a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She suffers from a pituitary disorder that stunts her growth on top of her existing homicidal tendencies. The second was honoring the original material while keeping the film fresh. First Kill is a prequel about how Leena escaped from an Estonian psychiatric facility, chose her alias, and was adopted by an unsuspecting family. The Devil Inside director spoke to Bleeding Cool about the enduring legacy of the 2009 film, working with Fuhrman, and the horror genre.

Orphan: First Kill: Isabelle Fuhrman on Revisiting Esther in Prequel
Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan: First Kill (2022). Image courtesy of Paramount

Bleeding Cool: How did you get involved with Orphan: First Kill?
Bell: I've been close with many producers and studio people involved in the movie for years, some I've wanted to work with and others I wanted to work with again. They sent me the script and asked, 'Would you be interested in taking a look at this?' As a fan, I was super excited to read it, and as a filmmaker, I was pretty skeptical, but I was excited. When I finished it, I was excited and no longer skeptical.

Orphan: First Kill Dir Brent Bell on 2009 Film's Legacy and Expanding
Rossif Sutherland and Julia Stiles in Orphan: First Kill (2022). Image courtesy of Paramount

When conceiving 'First Kill,' did you rely on the original 2009 film as kind of the basis, or was this something you rebuilt from the ground up?
People continue to like that original film because it holds up pretty well. Certain qualities about it are kind of dated, so we tried to make sure that the movie felt like it came from the same DNA and it wasn't a complete departure, but at the same time, fresh, both in our perspective on Esther and the storytelling. It drew on…I wanted it to feel like it was still part of the family of that first film sonically and visually without being copied in any way.

Orphan: First Kill Dir Brent Bell on 2009 Film's Legacy and Expanding
Matthew Finlan and Julia Stiles in Orphan: First Kill (2022). Image courtesy of Paramount

What was the most difficult aspect during production as far as execution goes?
Isabelle is playing the character again at 24 years old, and [we're] trying to creatively find ways to make it believable for the viewer. She was a foot shorter than she is, 40 lb lighter, and 15-20 years younger, whatever the math adds up to. Filming at the height of COVID as one of the first movies back in production with all those masks and stuff was pretty crazy, but it was also extremely fun. We were all excited to be back on set and doing something that felt like a once-in-a-career thing.

Orphan: First Kill Trailer Promises Chills On Paramount+ In August
Credit Paramount

Do you hope maybe in the future that you work on another horror franchise or more similar type projects?
I just finished a film in the U.K. called Lord of Misrule, and it's very different from this, but it's also a scary pagan horror film. I love these kinds of characters and the worlds they live in. It has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. I won't be able to sleep at night if I can't find ways to make movies like this.

Written by David Coggeshall, Orphan: First Kill, which also stars Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, Hiro Kanagawa, Matthew Finlan, and Samantha Walkes, is in theaters, digital, and streaming on Paramount+ on August 19th. You can check out our interview with Fuhrman here.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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