Behind The Scenes Saturday: Orphan

Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday! This week is all about the cult classic, Orphan. With its cunning antagonist and a twist that I guarantee no one saw coming, this film made such an impact in the genre. I’m so excited for Orphan: First Kill so I wanted to make a Behind The Scenes article on the film that started it all! I hope you enjoy and if you like trivia and BTS pics, please check out the rest of my Behind The Scenes pack!

(Trivia provided by

(Pictures provided by



  • The character of Esther was originally written as having fair skin, delicate features, and platinum blonde hair. However, Isabelle Fuhrman absolutely nailed her audition and the filmmakers cast her anyway. They tried many possible wigs for the character, but ultimately decided on Fuhrman’s real hair. 
  • The film’s director, Jaume Collet-Serra made sure to get the scene where Esther swears in front of Kate (Vera Farmiga) in one or two takes so Isabelle Fuhrman didn’t have to swear repeatedly.
  • Aryana Engineer (Max) is mostly deaf just like her character in this film. She has Cochlear Implants which enhances her ability to hear and speak.
  • To add to the uneasiness with Esther’s face in the film’s poster, it was made perfectly symmetrical. Half of her face is mirrored to be perfect on both sides.
  • The film’s trailer included Esther’s line, “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.” This line got a lot of phone calls from outraged adoptive parents and foster care organizations. Due to the backlash, Warner Bros. edited and removed the line from the trailer, but it remains in the film.
  • The film was originally going to be set in the fall. However, the Toronto shooting locations were hit with a lot of snow. The setting had to be changed to winter because of this, and a scene that included a Halloween carnival at Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) and Esther’s school had to be removed.
  • In between takes, Vera Farmiga passed the time by doing knitting projects on set. After watching her, Isabelle Fuhrman ended up taking an interest in knitting.
  • When we first see Kate at the piano, she was composing a suite for Daniel and Max. This scene was supposed to be longer but it was cut down. Vera Farmiga, a very skilled pianist, was furious with Jaume Collet-Serra for cutting the scene short. She hoped that the full scene would make it on the DVD, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
  • In earlier drafts of the script, Esther’s song was supposed to be “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day. The song ended up being changed to “The Glory Of Love.”
  • Vera Farmiga said the film was appealing in many ways. The main reason was she “got a paycheck for once” and she really wanted to work with Peter Sarsgaard (John).
  • The photo of the Saarne Institute is in real life Alma College in St. Thomas, Ontario. In messed up irony, Esther drew the building and its residents on fire. On May 28, 2008, the college was actually burned down.
  • The film’s screenwriter, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick wrote the part of Sister Abigail specifically for CCH Pounder.
  • Earlier drafts of the script included a lot of Esther’s tragic backstory. Her father molested her for years, starting when she was an infant. His actions destroyed any chance she could have of having her own children. Her father ended up taking another lover and told Esther that because of her condition, she could never be a real woman. She ended up killing her father and his lover and was sent to the Saarne Institute because of it. She escaped and worked in Estonia as a prostitute for a while. She got arrested again and kept the charade of being a child to stay out of jail. She was sent to an orphanage instead. Esther forever saw herself trapped in a child’s body. She tried to find someone who could “make her a wife, a lover, a woman (or rather what her father considered a real woman).” She tried to find “love” where she thought she once had it as a child, from her new fathers.
  • Also, in earlier drafts of the script, John and Kate already picked another child, Yolanda, before meeting Esther. In fact, they weren’t going to the orphanage to see the children, they were going there to bring presents to Yolanda. Once they met, John was impressed with Esther but she find out they are taking Yolanda home the next day. The day she was supposed to be picked up, Sister Judith (Genelle Williams) finds Yolanda hanging in a closet. Its speculated that it was a child’s game gone wrong, but it’s implied that Esther killed her. John later suggested that he and Kate adopt Esther. I can definitely see why that whole thing was changed. I don’t think Kate would’ve even considered adopting another child if one she had such a connection with died so horribly.
  • To prepare for her role as Esther, Isabelle Fuhrman studied Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons and Anthony Hopkins in The Silence Of The Lambs.
  • The seduction scene between John and Esther was originally supposed to be longer and more “sexually graphic.” Thank God they cut that scene down!
  • Originally, Esther’s attempt to kill Daniel was successful and Daniel stayed dead.
  • In an alternate ending, the final fight with Kate didn’t happen. After Kate falls on Esther and escapes the house, Esther goes up into her room, puts on makeup, and greets the police as the “innocent” little Esther again. Though the alternate ending is much more creepy, that final fight was just too epic to cut!
  • John’s death scene was also much more gruesome. Instead of being stabbed to death, John discovers the black light paintings in her room, Esther jumps out from a pile of stuffed animals, stabs him in the eye with scissors, pushes him down the stairs, and finishes him off by strangling him with a jump rope.
  • In a deleted scene, Esther pins the murder of Sister Abigail on a homeless man. She hides a grocery bag that contained the bloody hammer and Abigails personal items in the homeless man’s possessions.
  • The scene where Esther sinks to the bottom of the pond was intentionally shot to mimic Leonardo DiCaprio sinking to the bottom of the ocean in Titanic. This might’ve been because DiCaprio was a producer on this film.
  • There were many moments that foreshadowed the shocking twist. The most obvious one was that she was a “9-year-old girl” who not only understood what sex was, but used the most adult language to describe it. When the school bully, Brenda (Jamie Young) makes fun of her clothes and bible, Esther doesn’t cry like a typical bullied child. Esther claimed to never played the piano, but she later plays as if she’s been an expert on it for years. Esther took the longest time to get ready for school because she had to apply her age-defying makeup. Esther insists on wearing dresses instead of jeans to hide her adult figure. Finally, Esther always cuts her food up into tiny pieces because she has rotten teeth and chewing is more difficult with her false teeth.
  • Esther’s real name, Leena means “she that allures” which perfectly shows her true intentions with John.
  • When Kate yells at Esther and Max for playing on the frozen pond, not only was she scared that Max would fall through the ice again, this actually foreshadows Esther’s death at the end of the film.

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