WAMG Interview: THE DEVIL INSIDE Actress/Contortionist Bonnie Morgan
Bonnie Morgan is an actress who specializes in what she calls ‘otherworldly movement’. Remember the creepy little girl in THE RING 2 who crawled out of the well like a spider? That was Bonnie. In MEN IN BLACK 2 she doubled over and a headlike appliance was placed on her behind, given the character the nickname “Jabba the Butt”. ‘Bendy Bonnie’ is a 31-year old contortionist. She discovered she was capable of dislocating her shoulders and hips at 9 years old and eventually took her talent on tour with her actor/stuntman father and sister. Bonnie has put her unique skills to work in such films as MINORITY REPORT, HELLBOY 2, PIRANHA (she was the gal in the inner tube!), FRIGHT NIGHT, and TV’s The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Her most substantial role to date was in this year’s surprise hit THE DEVIL INSIDE as Rosa, a young woman whose body becomes twisted into all sorts of unnatural positions when she’s visited by a group of Exorcists. When I saw THE DEVIL INSIDE, the scenes involving Rosa impressed me greatly because I had the sense that there was no CGI involved in that sequence, yet I couldn’t quite figure out how this possessed character became such a human corkscrew. I recently had the chance to speak with Bonnie about the role and asked her about her unusual skills.
THE DEVIL INSIDE is available on Blu-Ray and DVD Tuesday May 15th
Interview conducted by Tom Stockman April 16th 2012
We Are Movie Geeks: I dug up my review of THE DEVIL INSIDE from January and I singled you out. I wrote “Bonnie Morgan plays Rosa, the first girl they try to exorcise and that one delirious sequence, with contortion, blood, and screaming vulgarity, is the film’s best.”
Bonnie Morgan: Oh Tom, I feel so loved!
WAMG: You know what they should do; they should make a prequel to THE DEVIL INSIDE all about Rosa. Have they talked about that at all?
BM: They haven’t actually. I believe they are working on a sequel but they haven’t told me anything specifically, but I’m on board for that idea!
WAMG: I think Rosa is still alive.
BM: Absolutely, Rose survives her ordeal. I’m not sure what state her interior is.
WAMG: I liked the movie and gave it a good review. You were so scary in it. How did you get the role?
BM: That was a straight-up actress audition. I got a call from my agent who said she was sending me in to be an Italian teenager. I have flaming red hair, very blue eyes, I look like an Irish girl. She sent in a head shot, we call it my ‘broken picture’, which is a shot of the pose I was doing laying on the bed and I have very dark hair. I bought a dark wig because I couldn’t leave it up to the imagination of the filmmakers. I play poker with a guy named Mark Fiorini. He’s an Italian who played the Pope in ANGELS AND DEMONS and he translated the Italian dialog for my audition. So I went there feeling Italian, dislocating my shoulders, speaking a little Yiddish, a little bit of whatever else I know, some profanity that wasn’t supposed to be there. The casting director thought that was very interesting. Two other actresses were looking at me and thinking “What the crap?”
WAMG: Two Italian actresses probably
BM: Possibly. So for the callback, I went in and it was William Brent Bell, the director, and two producers and the three of them had my headshots and were looking at me like three smiling kids and wondered if I could really do this and asked me if I speak Italian. I said “I speak enough to get through your script”. So they asked me to show them what I do. They didn’t say contortionist in the original breakdown, they just got that with me.
WAMG: Did you research possession cases to see how a possessed woman might act?
I’ve actually researched possession for a few other roles. I kinda seem to be the go-to girl for creepy, possessed kids. I was Samara in THE RING 2, the girl in the well, things like that. I hate to say the ‘otherworldly movement’ is my expertise but being freaky is definitely part of my business. Of course though, you research the touchstones. You build from Linda Blair. God bless her and her amazingness.
WAMG: Have you met Linda Blair?
I have not. I love her though. She does great work with animals now, and I’ve been an animal for most of my life.
WAMG: Was there any improvisation in that sequence or was that tightly storyboarded?
BM: I had very little contact with everybody before I got to Romania. By the time we got there, they looked at me and asked what I wanted to do and let me come up with some ideas of my own. Some of the more vulgar profanity was mine. I brought my sister Molly with me because on a job like that, you need a keeper to watch your back, to work with you. The scene where my shoulders dislocate in mid-air, was actually done with monofilament so that my sister was puppeteering my arms. We tried to have the Romanian effects guys help out but you need someone who knows your body, what you can do. She was just an invaluable help. The scene where I say “What is your name my daughter?” in German just freaked (lead actress) Fernanda Andrade out. She almost walked out of the room. The guys definitely gave me a pretty long leash to work with. Brent was amazing. He really knows the genre. We worked really closely and came up with some freaky stuff.
WAMG: Was there any CGI in that sequence?
BM: No, that was all me. There was one bit of CGI where the blood hits the camera, and there was a bit of wire removal. They actually cut a couple of sequences that were really cool, like one where I came charging out of that spider hole in the wall. I had no stunt doubles, they figured I was capable enough.
WAMG: Perhaps that scene will make it into the special features on the DVD
BM: I wouldn’t be surprised.
WAMG: Does it ever frustrate you that modern audiences assume that a sequence like that is full of CGI?
BM: Of course. My dad was a stuntman and stunt coordinator for years so stunts have always been in my life and that’s the bane of every stuntperson’s existence that people assume a cool stunt is enhanced with CGI. But as long as it’s entertaining audiences, we know the truth. I got a phone call right after THE RING 2 came out from a producer who wanted something like my scene in that move but “real”. I said “Uh, that was me!”.
WAMG: You said your dad was a stuntman?
BM: Yes, my dad’s name is Gary Morgan. He is kind of sci-fi royalty. He played Billy in LOGAN’S RUN. He was also in CUJO. He was the stunt double for the dog!
WAMG: What was the most physically challenging part for filming your stunts for THE DEVIL INSIDE?
BM: The location was a real challenge. It was tough. It was an uninsulated stage in Romania in December. For a contortionist, cold is our kryptonite. Your muscles will try to lock up when it’s cold. It was a 17-hour day. There was a scene where Simon yanks on my hair that hurt like Hell. It was a long day. It was taxing climbing that wall, but we got a great show.
WAMG: Oh yeah, that was the best part of the movie. When did you realize that your body moved in different directions than others?
BM: After the nuclear accident……just kidding. I was 9 years old when my sister was trying to fly me off of a diving board. She grabbed my feet and pulled them behind my head and they stuck. She was quite upset but my dad was very amused and figured we could use a contortionist in the family. I started developing an act when I was 14.
WAMG: What’s the difference between your bones and mine?
BM: Our bones aren’t that different. The big difference is the muscles and the ligaments that are attached are different. Mine are hyper-mobile and elastic so I can pull the bone out of its socket at will. Yours are going to fight to stay in or are going to tear if they come out.
WAMG: What’s the worst injury you’ve ever received on a film set?
BM: I went to the hospital when I was doing Peter Pan on stage. I was doing a swordfight with a great actor named Bruce Spence.
WAMG: From ROAD WARRIOR?
BM: Yes, the gyro captain! He laid my head the crap open. Full strength with two hands, it was like being hit in the head with a bat.
WAMG: Was he playing Captain Hook?
BM: No, he was playing the giant pirate. Jason Isaac was Captain Hook. I was playing a fairy and was Wendy’s stunt double.
WAMG: I’m glad you recovered. Thank you for taking the time to speak with We Are Movie Geeks and best of luck with you career.
BM: Thank You