July 22nd, 2009
11:15 AM ET

This little "Orphan" has a big secret

I'm not a horror film fan, especially ones with creepy kids... but I realize that in this business, one cannot escape the occasional thrasher.  So when my name was called upon to watch and do the cast interviews for "Orphan," I calmly accepted without protest.

In an effort not to irk the publicity department at Warner Bros. (the studio behind "Orphan," and CNN's sister company), I'll keep the plot summary short.  A troubled married couple (played by Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga) with two kids is traumatized when their third child is stillborn.  In order to ease their pain from the terrible experience, the pair adopts a nine-year-old girl named Esther.  The audience soon finds out that behind the cute pigtails and frilly dresses, Esther is a terror... and the horror ensues.  And one more thing: little Esther's got a big secret (but I obviously can't reveal that).

Last weekend, I got the chance to interview Isabelle Fuhrman, the nice young actress who portrays the horrible, violent Esther.  I found this a little unsettling, at first - unable to shake the image of a creepy, psychotic killer from my head.  But as soon as I sat down, Fuhrman opened right up, and no signs of Esther emerged, except when she paused a few times to give me Esther's blank, empty look (you may have seen it on "Orphan" movie posters).  Esther's creepiness quickly faded from my mind as the 12-year-old actress chatted away about her first movie experience, her co-stars, and her favorite scary movie - she says she usually doesn't watch them, but did see "The Good Son" (which, appropriately, also centers on a disturbed child, played by Macaulay Culkin). Fuhrman had this to say about her her deeply, deeply troubled character:

"She feels like she's a victim.  She doesn't feel like she's evil at all.  She feels like she's a victim in a world that just doesn't understand her and she really just wants to be understood, and if not, it doesn't end well."

Indeed.  Those who see the film when it opens this weekend can witness for themselves just how things end.  And Esther's big secret?  Fuhrman's not going to tell... at least not on tape.

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