LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Contortionist Bonnie Morgan
By James Whittington, Thursday 17th May 2012 Bonnie Morgan is an actress, stunt woman and contortionist who recently starred as demonically possessed Rosa in The Devil Inside. Well known in the horror genre, Bonnie is also responsible for the spider walk that Samara performs in The Ring Two, and appeared in the sci-fi action feature Minority Report.
She also takes on stunts and wire work, with credits in features including Peter Pan and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, as well as television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Chuck and Castle to name a few.
We recently caught up with Bonnie to chat about her career, her on set experiences on The Devil Inside and her plans for the future.
HC: When did you discover that you could contort your body?
BM: When I was around 8 years old my big sister wanted to play on a diving board I was dangling from, so like most caring siblings, she tried every way to dislodge me from it... including attempting to peel me off it by prying my legs in the wrong direction. But they kept going and going until she finally called our dad for assistance... he made the contortion connection and literally said, "I can make a buck with that".
HC: How did you get your first big break into show business?
BM: My parents started me off in the business before I was a year old, so I spent a lot of my childhood working on sitcoms and commercials, I was even an Oscar Mayer Weiner kid. As far as "big breaks" go, I did an episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman when I was a kid, where I played a rape victim, that was a big step in my dramatic acting career. But I think the coolest was when Steven Spielberg singled me out in Minority Report.
HC: Was your family supportive of your career choice?
BM: My incredible family is the reason I am in this crazy business. I am a third generation actress, circus, and stunt performer... my Grandparents were in Vaudeville. My Grandma Dotty opened for Frank Sinatra in 1942, my Grandpa Barney was a running gag on The Tonight Show with his trampoline act, and my dad Gary was the original Little Richey in the Dick Van Dyke pilot, Billy in Logan's Run, and has been in countless other shows and films. One might say my career was less of a choice as it was self defense.
HC: You've worked on some major movies, do you have any stand out memories from any of these?
BM: Ooooooh... there are so many good ones. My recent favorite was on The Muppets Movie when the actor Ken Jeong went doctor on me and attempted to diagnose me contortion abilities on set. So Cool! He is the BEST!
HC: Have you ever been asked to perform a stunt that you considered too dangerous?
BM: I have never turned down a job, but there were a few I didn't tell my mom about until they were over. There was one movie that was a fairly simple stunt when I accepted it, but escalated into me jumping off the roof of a moving bus into the arms of two girls who were catching me... I'm not sure I would have taken that one if I'd known that was what they planned in the first place.
HC: How did you become involved with The Devil Inside?
BM: The old fashioned way... I got a call to come in and audition for a demon possessed Italian girl. Which was interesting because I have flaming red hair, blue eyes... and I do not speak Italian. So I went out and purchased a brunette wig and a set of brown contacts, and asked a friend to translate the English sides into Italian. When I walked through that door, they were not looking for a contortionist, and I kept my stunt background in the dark, lest it jeopardize their opinion of me as an actress... as it has in the past. I sort of freaked out the Casting Director on my first call; she was very concerned about my shoulders and all the screaming. Then for the callback I met Brent the director, and the producers Morris and Matt. When I walked in, the three of them grinned like kids at a sideshow.
HC: What did you think of the script?
BM: To be perfectly honest the script was more or less kept a secret form me, though not intentionally - my agent just forgot to send it. When I got on the plane to Romania, all I had were the scenes I auditioned with. The joke around my house was that with a title like The Devil Inside and no script... I was on my way to shoot porn! When I arrived, Morris presented me with the script and a promise that this was not the case. But when we shot the basement "she's hemorrhaging" scene, I was tied to the bed with a blood tube running up my leg and taped near my unmentionables. Just before we rolled cameras the special effects man ran in and patted the tape down to secure it...I yelled, "Hey!" Morris laughed and said, "I guess your family was right, you did come to Romania to shoot porn!"
HC: The movie has shocked audiences across the globe, are you a fan of the horror genre?
BM: I am a huge horror fan! I am fulfilling my secret childhood dream of being a scary monster!
HC: How do you stay so fit?
BM: I lead a very active life. I grew up with a trampoline, a gyroscope, and a trapeze in the yard. So naturally I now have a room in my house with a spring loaded floor and an aerial rig for single trapeze, silk, or lyra hoop. I still perform my contortion acts, and also do several acts with my sister and my dad, which we rehearse and perform at benefits and charity events. I guess you can take the girl out of the circus...
HC: Do you feel that using someone with your skills will always be more "believable" than a CGI effect?
BM: Honestly even when it IS me performing, people think its CGI! That being said I am a firm believer that real is always more believable, that goes for any performance, be it stunts, contortion, or just being real. The technology is bounding toward looking like "reality", but there will always be a need for performers to show the computer how to be human.
HC: There will come a time when you won’t be as supple as you are now, do you have a career plan?
BM: What I really want to do is direct. Kidding. Maybe. Who knows, I could follow in Andy Serkis' footsteps toward motion capture. I just intend on having as much fun and playing as long as possible. Eventually I'd like to come out from under the makeup and latex and perform some real villainy... but till then I will continue to do both!
HC: What projects are you working on at the moment?
BM: Most recently, I worked on the film The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Steve Carell, Stave Buscemi, and Jim Carrey. I have a small but hopefully memorable part.
HC: Bonnie Morgan, thank you very much.
BM: It has been my pleasure!
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