Isabelle Fuhrman’s performance as Esther in Paramount Pictures’ first Orphan film stunned audiences in no small part because of what the movie’s disturbing twist revealed about its titular child murderer. Twelve years later, Fuhrman is set to reprise her role in Paramount’s upcoming prequel Orphan: First Kill from director William Brent Bell, and the 24-year-old actress is certain that she’s about to shock everyone once again.
In the original Orphan’s final acts, it’s revealed that nine-year-old “Esther” is actually a 33-year-old Estonian serial killer with proportional dwarfism caused by hypopituitarism, which she’s used to pretend to be a child for years as she bounces from one adoptive family to the next. Fuhrman, who was 12 when Orphan premiered, was lauded for her ability to vacillate between Esther’s precocious ersatz child and deranged killer modes. That seems to be the big draw that Paramount’s pushing for First Kill, a movie set some time before the original where Fuhrman will play nine-year-old-Esther again without the use of any computer-assisted visual effects or wild “makeup tricks,” according to the actress.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fuhrman spoke about loving the challenge of returning to Orphan to play Esther and how First Kill will be one of the first films to feature a now-adult actor returning to play the role of a “child” that they first portrayed when they were actually kids.
“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,” Fuhrman said. “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 [9-year-old], but I do. And it’s really creepy.”
Anyone who’s fallen ever down a makeup artist rabbit hole on YouTube knows what sort of unbelievable witchcraft talented cosmetologists can pull off when given the right tools. While Fuhrman’s certainly older than she was, you can see how she might be able to get away with pretending to be a believable child in the right lighting or with a hat, especially in the age of series like Hulu’s PEN15 and movies like Valérie Lemercier’s Aline.
Though being disturbed by her own regressive transformation was a challenge all its own for Fuhrman, what was most difficult was convincing herself that she could play an adolescent this time around.
“Because that was the easy part last time, the hard part was trying to be an adult,” Fuhrman said. “Now the hard part is I have to be kid.”
Currently, no hard release date for Orphan: First Kill has been announced.