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THE DEVIL INSIDE has become this January’s surprise hit at the box-office, despite a second weekend slip from number 1 to number 6 in the top-ten grosses. Even with the tumble in ticket-sales, the found-footage possession tale has managed to make back its budget and outgross 2010’s THE LAST EXORCISM. Like that film, THE DEVIL INSIDE suffers from a largely reviled ending but benefits from a well-cast contortionist in the role of a possessed woman. There’s been some confusion, however, as to where credit is due for THE DEVIL INSIDE’s bone-crunching effects. Turns out that all the stunts for Rosa, the demon-afflicted Italian girl locked in the basement by her family, were performed by credited actress Bonnie Morgan, whose twisting limbs and gravity-defying vaults were achieved without the assistance of CGI.
Morgan comes from a family of performers with horror prestige, including her father Gary, an actor and stuntman with over a hundred credits who, among other feats, doubled for the eponymous killer canine in CUJO. Bonnie’s aunt Robbie was the first to have her throat slashed in the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, and sister Molly has played the goth girl in everything from DEXTER to CLUELESS. Bonnie herself has enough horror cred to stand on her own, performing stunts in a dozen scary flicks, including portraying Samara as she claws her way out of the well in THE RING TWO. Bonnie talked to FANGORIA about the joy of playing monsters and how auditioning for a small part led to her being front and center of THE DEVIL INSIDE’s marketing campaign.
FANGORIA: It’s difficult to recognize the bright-eyed, spunky redhead we’re talking with now as the possessed girl in the film and commercials. But that’s you in the movie, and you’re not assisted by special effects?
Bonnie Morgan: That entire role was 100 percent me! I am the girl who breaks her arm, her back and her leg as Rosa in the trailer and movie. The only effect in that part was that they gave me a little piece of monofilament to hang onto because the arm was getting a bit too out of control. They had said, “Can you actually keep it in the socket?” and I was like, “I could use a little help!” We pretty much did the entire basement scene in one go, in one sixteen hour day, and that basement was freezing! We’re shooting in Romania in the middle of winter and let me tell you... (Romanian accent) Eastern Bloc winter is cruel.
FANGORIA: Are you also performing the vocal aspects of the character, with the different languages?
Bonnie Morgan: My agent told me I was going up for the part of this Italian girl, and I just said “(aghast) What headshot did you send them?” My agent is saying, “Oh yeah, and I also told them you speak Italian.” The audition sides they gave me were written in English with a little header that said “In Italian with English subtitles.” So I went and had the whole thing translated and I learned it phonetically. In the audition they asked me if I was just making it up and I told them no, it’s their lines in Italian. They asked if I spoke any other languages so I did the lines in German, in French, and I threw in a little Yiddish, which is mostly the swearing of my aunts and uncles around the table in New Jersey, but that’s another story.
In real-life I have freckles and very bright wild flaming curly red hair, so I went and bought a wig before I went in for the audition. No one even saw my real hair until I got to the location in Europe. I’ve got the wig in my luggage, and everybody’s staring at me saying, “What did you do to your hair? Where’s the girl we cast?” and I just said, “Don’t worry, she’s in the bag.” The role was not actually intended for a contortionist, they were just looking for an actress to play a fairly small role of a possessed girl, and after they met me they wrote it to be a much bigger part. They pointed to the picture of me and said “Can you really do that?” So I dislocated my shoulder and threw one leg over my head and said, “Why do you ask?” They let me improvise a lot. The part where I call her by name, when I say “Isabella...” I just threw that out there to mess with the actress.
FANGORIA: So you acted every moment of Rosa, and also did all your own stunts?
Bonnie Morgan: Every moment of Rosa is played, performed, stunted, and popped by me. Pixie Le Knot is the stunt double for Fernanda Andrade, when Isabella gets possessed at the end of the film. She’s a lovely contortionist and she did a wonderful job, but she was only doubling Isabella. Rosa is all me. The stunt coordinator, who was Romanian, he had expected to bring in a stunt girl. He hadn’t met me yet. So I walked into the basement and I was looking at the equipment he had, you know, for my own safety. I reached up and grabbed the kind of rope that he had hanging down and I looked at him and said “Dynex?” He says “You know Dynex?” I asked him, “What kind of harness are you using, Sutra or Amspec?” He says “We use Amspec.” I said, “That’s a good harness,” and he turns to the producers and says “She’ll be okay. She can ride the wire.” I could climb that wall pretty fast, but they rigged me up with some pulleys under very little wardrobe, to give it that extra weightless, supernatural quality.
FANGORIA: How does it feel to perform these physical feats, only to have audiences assume its CGI?
Bonnie Morgan: I’ve dealt with that a lot in my life. I’ve been accused of being CGI many times in my career. I got a job once where they were saying, “We need something here like that digital shot in THE RING TWO.” I’m like, “That wasn’t CGI, that was me.” I’m the real deal, I’m already what CGI is trying to achieve!
FANGORIA: What’re your thoughts on THE DEVIL INSIDE’s largely unpopular ending?
Bonnie Morgan: Horror movies can’t end well. Good rarely triumphs over evil, that’s what we have romantic comedies for. It was an abrupt ending, my Dad would call it an EASY RIDER ending. Horror never ends well, there’s always more evil out there to deal with.
FANGORIA: Do you wish you had more roles in which you’re not buried in makeup? You’re unrecognizable in many of your appearances, but in PIRANHA 3-D you showed up in the trailer, getting pulled through the inner-tube, and you looked like yourself.
Bonnie Morgan: People actually recognize me from that! That’s the only time I got to be pretty, and die by the monster instead of being the monster! I’d love to be recognized as an actress, and be involved in a role that didn’t rely on my special skills as a contortionist or my patience for special effects makeup... but I love what I do. I’ll never hang up stunts. I’ve ridden rigs that other people can only dream existed! I love being challenged, I’d love to do a truly high decelerator fall, like a 700 foot decelerator. I’d love to do a truly great helicopter stunt before I retire, but unless you’re producing you’re own stuff they won’t let you.
I love being the monster, too. A lot of my career has been me lying face down in a puddle of super-slime, with some gorgeous actress running screaming from me while the director’s yelling “Get her Bonnie! Get her!” I want a T-shirt that says “Hot chicks run from me.”
FANGORIA: So you’re not interested in being that hot chick, playing a romantic lead?
Bonnie Morgan: Given the choice between the ingenue and the monster, I’ll always want to be the monster.
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