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CASE 39

The Foster Child
On the surface, Emily Jenkins' new foster child is an innocent 10-year-old victim of unspeakable family abuse. The pretty, quiet Lillith is a lonely, haunted child in desperate need of real family love and devoted care. But her appearance doesn't tell the whole story, and there is far more to this child than first meets the eye. Lillith joins the pantheon of eerie child characters from such films as THE BAD SEED, THE OMEN, THE SHINING and JOSHUA.

When casting Lillith, the filmmakers knew they needed a young actress who possessed unusual depth and skill. They needed someone who could portray a young girl capable of invoking both empathy and abject horror, an actor who could represent the dichotomy of childhood purity and unbridled evil. They looked for an actress who would be so believable in the role that she would shock audiences with her transformation between innocence and demonic fury.

An extensive search led them to Jodelle Ferland, whose impressive resume includes the lead role in Terry Gilliam's TIDELAND, as well as the hit horror film SILENT HILL. An actress for as long as she can remember, Ferland won her first Emmy at the astonishing age of four.

"I don't know how many thousands of kids we looked at, but when we boiled it down, Jodelle was the perfect choice,” says Alvart. "It wasn't about her look or about her being creepy; what really drew us in was that she is simply a very powerful actress,” he says. "For me, that was the most important thing, because Lillith is a complicated character. Jodelle turned out to be so mature that there was very little difference between directing her and directing Renee. I never had to talk to her like she was a child. She was as present as any talented actress twice her age.”

Alvart continues: "In a lot of movies that have scary kids, the kids just sort of pop up now and then, but they're really not part of the story. In CASE 39, Jodelle is really the main character after Renee. We used very little CGI with her, and we didn't have to because her acting alone is so scary.”

Renee Zellweger was equally blown away by her young co-star. "There's really nothing that is 12 years old about Jodelle,” she laughs. "She's a beautiful soul, a beautiful person and, at the same time, she was able to really scare me. If she wants to charm you, no problem. If she needs to frighten you, she can. She is so bright and perceptive; she was able to do amazing things with Lillith.”

"I like doing scary movies,” Ferland admits. "It's interesting to be a cute little girl and then suddenly become creepy, because that makes things even more scary. Lily is in some ways just an innocent little girl, but she can't help but bring evil with her. The more people get to know her, the more weird things happen – very, very weird things.”

The thing that most thrilled Ferland about CASE 39 was the opportunity to work so closely with Oscar®-winner Renee Zellweger. "I really loved the BRIDGET JONES movies and I was just so excited to be able to work with her,” she says. "She made it a lot of fun.”

Ferland always makes sure to have fun, no matter how dark the role she takes on. As disturbing as it was to the adult crew watching, Ferland notes that during the scene in which she is stuffed into an oven, she was actually enjoying herself. "I kind of liked being in there,” she confesses. "The bottom of the oven they built was rubber, so even though I was screaming and banging, it was kind of fun.”

Ferland's ability to enjoy her work while bringing such an incredible intensity to it was an ongoing inspiration to cast and crew. "Christian had a real instinct about Jodelle right at the beginning,” says Kevin Misher. "He knew that she could have that sweetness and at the same time scare the bejeezus out of you. And she was absolutely able to do both.”

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