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Eugenie Bondurant brings another movie character out of the shadows

Bill DeYoung

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Opening in theaters (and on HBO Max) today, "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" features Eugenie Bondurant as a mysterious woman known as The Occultist. Photo: Warner Bros.

St. Petersburg’s Eugenie Bondurant got her first look at The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, in which she co-stars, at a private screening Wednesday night.

She’d seen bits and pieces, of course, but never the full movie, with all of its jump scares, twists, turns and special effects in place. “When you make a film, it’s all shot out of order,” Bondurant explains. “It depends on the location – it’s like throwing the dice, ‘Oh! We’re going to be here today.’”

And so the entire plot of the third installment in the Conjuring horror franchise, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, suddenly fell into place for her. “There were a few surprises,” says Bondurant, “where I went ‘I didn’t know he was going to do that!’”

Eugenie Bondurant is cast as The Occultist, a mysterious woman who may or may not hold the key to the Satanic possession at the heart of the story. Her real name, we come to find out, is Lola.

This is the second movie in a row to cast Bondurant, who’s been acting on film and TV since the 1990s, as a secret-keeping weirdo. As in February’s Fear of Rain, she plays … well, the Bad Guy.

“My career has now morphed into that,” she says enthusiastically. “It’s gone into that genre. So I think ‘Wow – what kind of fun can we have now?’”

Would she welcome more villainous roles? “Absolutely. Bring it on.”

Photo: Warner Bros.

She tends to get cast for her lean, angular look in addition to her formidable abilities in front of a camera. In 2015’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, she played Tigris, a former Hunger Games stylist sympathetic to the rebels. Under layers of feline makeup and kitty-style contact lenses, she was still mesmerizing.

Bondurant tells a story that, for her, illustrates how lucky she is to have played all different sorts of roles in her career thus far.

“Years ago,” she says, “I was on a show on HBO called Arliss. I played a transvestite. In one of the scenes, I got to meet the woman who played the wife of the cheating husband – the husband who cheated with me. She was this beautiful redhead woman. I said to her ‘Wow, you have such a cool role.’

“She looked at me and she said ‘I am typecast. I want to play the roles you play.’ And I thought, Really?

“So we started talking about it. She said ‘I GET THIS ROLE ALL THE TIME!’”

“Morphing” into dark, evil characters sounds to Bondurant like a logical progression. “I guess as you age, your face gets a little more angular,” she says, then laughs. “I don’t know, maybe I’ve lost some of that baby fat – if I ever had baby fat.”

Conjuring 3 was shot in Atlanta, over three busy months in 2019. Before its scheduled premiere last September, after screening the film for test audiences, the producers called for re-shoots – including, reportedly, several that gave Bondurant (who looked spectacularly spooky in the rough footage) considerably more screen time.

Bondurant won’t confirm or deny this – she diplomatically leaves it to Warner Bros. if they want to say something about it. In the end, the film’s release date was pushed to 2021 because of the pandemic. The re-shoots were done early this year, as she was promoting Fear of Rain.

Photo: Warner Bros.

It might as well be Christmas for Eugenie Bondurant. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opens nationwide today (it’s also available via HBO Max pay-per-view) and on Monday, her life takes yet another positive turn: She’s returning to work as an acting teacher.

Station 12 Studio at Green Light Cinema bows with scene study classes from this veteran instructor. She’s been teaching amateurs, professionals and those in between for 25 years, most recently at St. Pete’s Andi Matheny Studios, which closed a few months ago (when Andi and her husband moved to New York).

Eugenie Bondurant loves a challenge, whether it’s developing the emotional arc of a movie character or facing down a room full of nervous, expectant students.

“When I first started I had no idea what I was doing,” she laughs. “I love my students. Working with actors in multiple stages of their careers is exciting.

“Students who have all distinct personalities. Sometimes they all get along, and sometimes they don’t … it’s so cool.”

RELATED STORY: Tall story: The journey of Eugenie Bondurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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