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Horror fans know by now that no villain is ever really gone. As long as the audience is there, a horror icon can withstand just about any punishment. That didn’t seem to be the case for Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), the childlike figure at the center of 2009’s Orphan. But it appears Esther is back, with Fuhrman slated to play her in an upcoming prequel. However, Fuhrman is now 24 years old and will be playing the same role she originated at age 12. She recently explained the process behind bringing Esther back for Orphan: First Kill.

Isabelle Fuhrman wears a dress and smiles on the red carpet
Isabelle Fuhrman | Francois G. Durand

Isabelle Fuhrman starred as Esther in 2009’s ‘Orphan’

Orphan wasn’t exactly a blockbuster in 2009. But the film earned sleeper hit status when it earned $78 million worldwide against a $20 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. In the years since, the film’s wild twist has developed quite the reputation. Orphan centers on a couple (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) who adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl named Esther (Fuhrman). But they soon suspect she might be dangerous.

As it turns out, “Esther” is actually a 33-year-old woman suffering from a disorder that stunted her growth. And she has masked her violent tendencies by masquerading as a child. That premise could have inspired a whole string of films, but given Esther doesn’t survive Orphan, a prequel is the natural way to go instead. Of course, there’s also the matter of Fuhrman’s own age, as the 24-year-old star can no longer pass for a child. Or can she?

The 24-year-old actor will reprise the role in a prequel

As Fuhrman told The Hollywood Reporter, not only is she reprising her role as Esther in Orphan: First Kill. She will reportedly do so without the aid of special effects. In recent years, de-aging technology has made it easy for actors to play younger versions of themselves. But director William Brent Bell has no intention of using such an approach. Thankfully, Fuhrman has explained a bit more about how the process will work in the new film.

“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. … I was there every day. I know how we did this. I know all the tricks, and I’m so thoroughly disturbed right now because I somehow am 9 years old again, and it doesn’t make any sense. I was like, ‘How do I revisit this part and then also convincingly play a kid?’ Because that was the easy part last time. The hard part was trying to be an adult. Now the hard part is I have to be a kid.”

Fuhrman also noted how unprecedented this approach to the film is. Whenever a former child star has returned to play a role from their past, the character has always aged up accordingly. But for her to go back and play Esther as if she herself is still a child seemed “impossible,” Fuhrman confessed. Yet, apparently, that’s not the case.


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When can fans watch ‘Orphan: First Kill’ in theaters?

Regardless of how Orphan: First Kill turns out, the film deserves credit for taking a risk. Most other horror movies in this position would have just cast a new actor as Esther. But bringing Fuhrman back will likely only increase fans’ curiosity about the new movie. But when exactly can they see Esther’s wild return in Orphan: First Kill?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer for that just yet. The film reportedly wrapped filming in December 2020. So right now, it’s likely a matter of nailing down a release date. In the meantime, fans can stream Orphan — and see that divisive twist for themselves — exclusively on Hoopla right now, according to