From director Michael Chaves’ comes The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. Ahead of its release on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD later this month, I sat down with model turned actress Eugenie Bondurant to discuss her role as “The Occultist,” the villain of the film.
The Conjuring 3 reveals a chilling story of terror, murder, and unknown evil that shocked even real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Featuring one the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, marking the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense. Behind the scenes, a dark evil lurks pulling the strings, “The Occultist”.
Before Eugenie was casting spells and killing people in the third installment of The Conjuring franchise, she was walking the runway and starring in films such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 2, in which she played Tigris.
Kelli McNeely: “How did you make the transition from walking the runways to acting?”
Eugenie Bondurant: “[laughter] Oh boy. Believe it or not, it was a boyfriend I was dating. I was in Paris and he was in New York and moved to L.A. He said, ‘Hey come and visit me!’ and I said, ‘Yes’. After we broke up, the agents that I had out there had me doing commercials and I started going to auditions and started booking. My background, I actually graduated in corporate finance. Now, I’m acting. It worked out great [laughter].”
Kelli McNeely: “I’m so glad that it worked out so well for you and that it brought you into the film industry. If you, will, tell us about Tigris. The makeup is incredible.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “Well, thank you. That was a six-hour makeup job by Glenn Hetrick, Lee Grimes, and Neville Page. All three collaborated on that. I often had up to four people working on me, putting on tattoos, or prosthetics, or doing my hair. It was incredible but very limiting, but really fun to do. It was six hours putting on and two hours removing. It was a lot of makeup.”
Kelli McNeely: “Six hours? That’s a long time.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “Yeah. And they had whiskers too on my prosthetic. Glenn had designed them. He then put these little spikes in them. Those were my whiskers.”
Kelli McNeely: “Whatever they did, it looked fantastic.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “I thank them for that. They’re great. So you are a Hunger Games and Conjuring fan?”
Kelli McNeely: “Yes, I am. I enjoyed The Conjuring 3. Your character, the Occultist, plays such a big party in the story.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “Thank you very much. I loved playing her, finding her, creating her, rounding out her character. It was a lot of fun. We had a great director, who was vivacious and energetic, and very specific with what he wanted to see.”
Kelli McNeely: “What did you draw from or find inspiration with for the Occultist? She’s a very dark character.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “Well, I’m a trained actor and what we do is use our imaginations and experiences. Now, that being said, I can not say that I’m an occultist. That’s not me at all, but what we have to do is look at the character and you can find out what she really wants and what are her needs and wishes. Once we find out what that is, then it’s easy to find something in yourself that is similar. For example, if she desires love, we all desire love, don’t we? So that drives us to do certain things. I’m an occultist and I put hexes on people, she desires power so that’s what drives her. We just use our imaginations. There you go. That’s to in a nutshell.
The Occultist is very interesting. She was raised in a Catholic environment and we look at our protagonists, Ed and Lorraine are Catholic as well. You see Lorraine and you see the Occultist and they both have similar personalities, they’re both strong women, and they both have very strong beliefs. They were both raised Catholic. They are opposites in that they have different desires. They are opposites but parallel.”
Kelli McNeely: “That makes sense. The set had to be spooky, especially in the Father’s research room. Did you ever get creeped out by it? It’s all so realistic.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “That’s a very good question. First of all, I’m from New Orleans. I see stuff like that all the time, but what creeped me out was not the set of the Occultist, her lair didn’t creep me out, but what did creep me out was the artifacts room. I was afraid to touch anything. I didn’t want a hex to get put on me [laughter]. There are incredibly talented people working on the set design for The Conjuring. Everything was meticulously planned and made. One time I went for a set rehearsal, there were lines of papers over a clothesline, aged papers were drying over the line, and when I looked at it, the pages were beautiful, and later I discovered they were for my book on the alter. That was incredible to me. I got to see those things firsthand in person and play in that environment. That was fun. When I heard I had to crack a shell and find a chicken fetus, I wondered how I was going to do that. And they made the chicken fetus and it was beautiful. I saw in real clay and how that was done.”
Kelli McNeely: “I can only imagine how incredible it would be on the set.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “It was incredible.”
Kelli McNeely: “Were you aware of the true case of Arne Johnson before you signed on to play your role?”
Eugenie Bondurant: “When I was a little girl, that case became public. I did not remember it until I was talking to my sister about the movie. My sister, who is nine years older than me, said, “Oh, yeah. I remember that. That was a huge case. It was a big deal.’ and then I remembered something about it. Back then I was thinking about kid stuff. Not dark things like that.”
Kelli McNeely: “In the scene where you are at the alter with Ed and Lorraine, and you start contorting your body, was that you or stand in or special effects?”
Eugenie Bondurant: “That was all me, except for the very very end when I collapsed on the floor. Everything else I did. Chaves and I worked that scene out over Zoom. He wanted to know what I could and couldn’t do. When I saw it evolve at the end I thought it looked freaky [laughter].
Kelli McNeely: “It did look freaky but in a good way.”
Eugenie Bondurant: “I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. At one point, I was leaning over something and they were propping up my chest and they had my arms back and twisted and they asked, ‘Are you comfortable?” I said “Yeah.” and they said, ‘Instead of hanging your arms we’re going to have someone pull them back.” I can’t say it was really a comfortable experience but it didn’t hurt.”
Keeli McNeely: “That’s so awesome. Anything for the craft huh?”
Eugenie Bondurant: “[Laughter].”
While Eugenie’s character is terrifying in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, she is very different in real life. She’s not only kind but funny and filled with laughter. She was an absolute pleasure to talk with. I can’t wait to see what she does next, and who knows, we may see the Occultist again one day, you never know when it comes to The Conjuring franchise.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is out now on Digital and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 24, 2o21. Be sure to see Eugenie Bondurant in action.