The Conjuring franchise launched in 2013, igniting one of the dominating forces of the horror genre in the almost decade since, with the latest installment, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, exploring new ground for the series. In addition to being the first proper Conjuring film that wasn't directed by James Wan, it marked the first entry featuring a supernatural force being manipulated by a human threat, with Eugenie Bondurant's "The Occultist" managing to hold her own with the series' many iconic threats. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is out now on Digital HD and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 24th.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It reveals a chilling story of terror, murder, and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of 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'd ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
ComicBook.com caught up with Bondurant to talk about joining the series, the filming experience, and what the future could hold for her character.
ComicBook.com: The Conjuring franchise kicked off in 2013 and it has become this juggernaut within the world of horror, and transcending the world of horror and introducing so many audiences to the paranormal investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren. For you, before you actually entered the franchise, what was your connection to these films and to this series?
Eugenie Bondurant: What was my connection? I had seen The Nun.
The thing with horror is it has to be the right ... Oh, let's just say this. I saw The Nun by myself at night. Now, that's big, because usually, it's my husband saying, "We're watching this movie. Don't worry, honey. It's a little bit of horror, but we're going to watch a palate cleanser after it, and start it early. It's going to be okay."
So now I'm curious, since you are maybe a little reluctant to watch a horror movie, of all the movies you could have gone to see in 2017, why did you go see The Nun, and why did you go by yourself?
No, I actually saw it, believe it or not, I didn't see it in the theater. I saw it at home ... I saw it playing, and I thought, "This looks so interesting." And it was, honestly, compelled by ... It's funny, I played "The Occultist" in this crazy church-like setting, but I was compelled by the church, and the visual that I saw, and how neat and interesting [they were]. And if I wanted to freeze a frame, I can see, "Oh, what's in the background?" I could look at the set, and how intricate it was, and how deep, and brooding, and dark, and sinister. That was compelling to me.
I can't help but think about how there was the Sandra Bullock romantic comedy, 28 Days, and then the horror film, 28 Days Later, and that you were scrolling and saw The Nun. "This could be interesting, about a monastery. Let me check it out."
Do not ask me why. I know, I know. It's funny. Oh, my goodness. Well, yeah. It happens.
The films throughout this franchise are at least somewhat inspired by the real-world exploits of Ed and Lorraine Warren and their investigations. And so, for you, both prior to getting involved in this film, and then afterwards, what was your perception of the supernatural? Were you a believer in these things or were you just excited to get involved based on your character?
I have a love, or, I don't know if love-hate ... I have a respect for it. Being from New Orleans, you can't help. That is a very ... That is a city that is loaded with spirituality and many different levels and degrees. Being surrounded by that, living in that environment and with the weather there, it just adds to that feeling. So it's just I felt like it was just something that was a natural fit.
I'm from New England originally, so I totally understand how where you live, it's just a way of life and a given, as opposed to having to call it into question. Even if you don't personally believe, you know there's enough belief in the community that it's hard to avoid.
When it came to your character, The Occultist, how much of your character was inspired by your own research and your own personal choices and motivations for that role, versus how much did you stick directly to the script and let that inform your decisions?
I kept to the script and I also made my own choices, so both of those combined. I'm the kind of actor that needs to know why this character is doing what she's doing. Whether it's in the script or it's not in the script, I've got to dig through and get enough facts from the script to create that answer and justify her behavior. Otherwise, they're just words on a page, and I can do what I can do.
But really fulfilling that, and really finding the arc of the character, and seeing that and realizing how it all comes together, that's what's important to me. You can have a character that is evil just to be evil, and in the script, there's something else about why she might be doing something or why he may be stabbing people, or whatever, killing people. That is not interesting to me.
What's interesting is, she's on a journey. She's got to get from point A to point B, and she's got to get this done, and there's an urgency to it, and why, and that's compelling. Some of it is in the script, because that's our "Bible," so to speak. Even though we're talking about The Conjuring, we just use that term. That is our "Bible." So some of that is in there, and some of this, we have to look at it as little clues, and we can interpret it however we want.
In that realm of bringing this character to life in ways that are slightly different from what the script might have called for, were there any specific changes or specific contributions to this character of The Occultist that, once you came in, once you started collaborating with [director] Michael [Chaves], and [co-stars] Patrick [Wilson] and Vera [Farmiga], that your character changed or evolved a little bit?
I personally kept with the same story. The character, at some point, did change. The script changed to a certain degree. And I kept ... My story was evolved as the script changed. So I wasn't responsible for that. And what I brought to the table was something that is what most actors bring to the table, which is a fullness and a richness to the character. Now, what a lot of directors do ... I mean, Michael Chaves is a wonderful and very specific director. He likes what he likes, and he's very clear with his direction. And so, the good news is for me, is I could interpret that, and if he wanted it another way, he would just give me other direction, and I would be able to fulfill the demands of this character based on what he wanted.
As much as The Conjuring franchise itself has taken on this mythical reputation within the horror community, so have Patrick and Vera. They're such powerhouses, and clearly these films wouldn't survive or thrive without them. So I wondered if there was anything that fans might be surprised to learn about what it's like to work with Patrick and Vera.
Well, first of all, watch the DVD, because there are four fun things that are coming with the 4K Blu-ray and DVD, and really cool things that really create a lot of backstory and information. Number two, they are so cool on set. Now, I'm an acting coach as well, and so, when I watch them, I just, "Oh, wow. I'm in a masterclass." So I get to see their different perspectives, and what they bring to the table, and how that relates to the overall arc of the film, and the look of the film, and how it relates to me, and how supportive they are with me. The more connected they are, the more I feel welcomed and embraced doing my work on set.
This movie definitely called for some pretty intense sequences. The finale, obviously, is, I don't want to say "action-packed," but it's pretty overwhelming just for a viewer. So filming, I assume, was pretty difficult. When you look back on the entire production, was there a particularly difficult day on set? Were the physical requirements of the shoot more difficult or was it the intense, creepy, ominous, almost non-verbal performances that you have to give?
You know what was difficult to get it right, to get it perfect? The blowing of the dust. I know that seems so strange. Everybody knows how to blow out a candle. But that ... Oddly, it wasn't the end. It wasn't any of the other scenes. Those, okay, I could see. There were adjustments, and retakes, and blah, blah, blah. It's that, "Oh, my gosh. Be quicker. Be not as quick. Be forceful, not as forceful. Make a little noise. Be brief, be this, be that."
And getting it and interpreting it. "Oh, and why is she doing this?" and bringing that to the table, too. So that was fun. Again, it's our magical director who brings all that, and sees it, and sees it in the monitor, and then comes out and says, "Okay. Try it again, this way." "All right. Yes. I'll do anything for you. Yeah, sure. I'll try it another way. Let me try it for you 10 more times." That was difficult, oddly. It's a small thing.
I'm sure it was similar, probably, on the first film, because there's a very specific clap in that movie, right behind Lily Taylor's character, that I'm sure was like, "We have to get it precise," so that totally makes sense. Given the world of The Conjuring and the fact that The Nun is a spinoff from The Conjuring 2, and since your character has such a presence in this film and I know you've gotten your own comic book currently that's coming out.
Isn't that cool?
Have there been talks or have you had your own plans or desires to see The Occultist again? Or do you think the nature of this story, since she's a real, actual human, as opposed to an otherworldly spirit, do you think it is just this one live-action film, but there's still the comics to explore more of her?
I think it's perfectly natural for The Occultist to continue on in The Conjuring universe. I do. I mean, that's my personal point of view. But I can't say that I will ... Things remain to be seen.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is out now on Digital HD and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 24th.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.