Sarah’s life story and the mansion that she built have been the inspiration of many stories, films and books over the years. So, it is only fitting that her story was recently brought to the big screen with the release of Winchester, a supernatural thriller directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, and written by the Spierigs and Tom Vaughan. The film stars Helen Mirren as heiress Sarah Winchester, with Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook, and follows Mrs. Winchester as she is haunted by spirits inside her San Jose mansion in 1906.
The Winchester Mystery House® closed its doors to the public for a whirlwind 72-hour film shoot of exteriors, aerials and a few interior rooms. The rest of the filming was done in the director’s home country of Australia. Lead actress Helen Mirren did extensive research and visited the estate privately to better understand Sarah’s story and immerse herself in her world.
“She went into mourning and stayed in mourning for the rest of her life,” Mirren explained. “A bit the way Queen Victoria did when she lost her husband. It was a kind of Victorian thing to do, wasn’t it?” Mirren also sees Winchester’s fascination with spiritualism as a byproduct of that grief: “When you lose someone, the losses can be so unbearable, so difficult. That the only way you can deal with your grief is by feeling they are still with you in some way or another.”
– Helen Mirren, Vanity Fair, Feb 2, 2018.