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Julia Stiles On Why The Twists In Orphan: First Kill Make It More Sophisticated Than Your Average Horror Movie - Exclusive

Moviegoers were thrown for a massive loop in 2009 with "Orphan," a psychological horror thriller about Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a 9-year-old Russian orphan who is adopted by a couple to fill the void in their family after the tragic stillbirth of their third child. The match between Esther and Kate and John (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) is seemingly picture perfect, until the girl starts displaying characteristics of a person too wise for her years.

The boom is lowered in the third act, though, when Kate discovers that Esther is really Leena, a 33-year-old Estonian woman afflicted with a rare hormonal disorder that stunts growth and causes proportional dwarfism. Taking advantage of her diminutive stature and youthful looks, the woman attempts to destroy the lives of her adoptive mother and father before the film comes to its unsettling conclusion.

With the finality of the original "Orphan" making a sequel impossible, director William Brent Bell took the story of Leena in the other direction with "Orphan: First Kill." Through the creative use of practical visual effects, Fuhrman reprises her role as Leena in a story that begins just months ahead of the events of the 2009 film, with the murderous inmate escaping the confines of an Estonian asylum and — taking advantage of her rare disorder — assuming the identity of Esther, the long-lost daughter of a rich American couple Tricia and Allen (Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland). Along with her son, Gunnar (Matthew Finlan), Tricia knows that circumstances behind Esther's story are not all that they seem, leading the mother to protect her family at all costs.

Like the first "Orphan," "Orphan: First Kill" has its share of twists woven within its script to fool its audiences, which is one of the big reasons why Stiles was interested in joining the film.

Stiles loves how Esther meets her match

While Vera Farmiga got a fully-developed role as the adoptive mother of Esther in "Orphan," Julia Stiles realized it would be tough to step into the role of the matriarch in the prequel and have her character's presence be just as important as Isabelle Fuhrman's character. Once she read the script for "Orphan: First Kill," though, it became clear to the actor that writers David Coggeshall, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, and Alex Mace (who penned the original "Orphan") wanted to write something that made Tricia pivotal to narrative.

"A lot of times in a horror film or a scary film, [for some characters], the story doesn't really do them justice," Stiles told Looper in an exclusive interview. "This film is way more sophisticated and more fun than your average horror movie ... Unless you're playing the villain or unless you're playing the main character, the other roles can usually be like you're playing a character that's in distress all the time. I was so excited when I read the script for 'Orphan: First Kill' where there's this major twist that is very surprising."

The twist is so intricate, Stiles added, that she was fooled by how the story unfolded. "I didn't see it coming, but it's also delicious — because Tricia, the character that I play, is in some ways like Esther, and she has met her match," Stiles observed. "We're in on the secret, so we're looking at Esther like, 'How much longer is she going to get away with this [charade of playing a kid]?' and we're waiting for Tricia to figure it out. But it's a really fun part, and there's definitely more to her than meets the eye."

"Orphan: First Kill" is playing in select theaters and streaming exclusively on Paramount+.