Over a decade later and “The Orphan” has been adopted for a prequel.
The 2009 horror film starred Isabelle Fuhrman as the titular sociopathic orphan Leena, who set out to torture a family and seduce her adoptive father after escaping an orphanage. While everyone thought Leena was nine years old, it turned out she was secretly a 33-year-old woman with a medical condition that made her look like a child. And yes, the movie is as amazing as it sounds.
Now, Leena finally gets her origin story thanks to the upcoming prequel film “Orphan: First Kill.” It’s directed by William Brent Bell (“The Boy”) from a script by David Coggeshall. The film hits theaters, digital, and streaming on Paramount+ on August 19.
“First Kill” returns its focus to Leena, with original actress Fuhrman reprising her role. “Following an escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Leena comes to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy Connecticut family,” an official synopsis reads. “But Leena’s new life as ‘Esther’ comes with an unexpected wrinkle and pits her against a mother who will protect her family at any cost.”
Julia Stiles plays the mother, with Rossif Sutherland, Matthew Finlan, and Hiro Kanagawa also starring. Alex Mace, Hal Sadoff, and Ethan Erwin produced the film along with James Tomlinson.
Lead star Fuhrman also served as an associate producer. Now 24 years old, Fuhrman told The Hollywood Reporter that she opted to reprise playing the faux nine-year-old Leena without any CGI de-aging.
“I love the challenge of being able to play a kid because that’s never historically been done in cinema,” Fuhrman said. “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.'”
Fuhrman reached out to “First Kill” story writer David Leslie Johnson after watching a 2019 “Dr. Phil” episode in which a Ukrainian orphan is accused of lying about her age. Thus, “Orphan: First Kill” was born. Fuhrman originated the role of Leena/Esther when she was 12; now at 24, she found herself “thoroughly disturbed” turning back into a child onscreen.
“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 a kid,” Fuhrman continued. “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.”