A Conversation with Eugenie Bondurant Oct01


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A Conversation with Eugenie Bondurant

Eugenie Bondurant’s long and slightly strange career has taken her from the runways of New York and Paris to a featured role as “Tigris” in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

eugenie2At 6′-1″, with knife-blade cheekbones, Bondurant, was “discovered” after a bout with cancer left her looking especially exotic and androgynous. She was soon a working model in the U.S. and Europe. A modeling trip to Los Angeles led to an acting career. She created a string of bizarre characters in TV and film – including Fight Club (with Ed Norton), Saturday Night Live (with Madonna and Mike Myers). She tossed around comedian Gene Wilder while playing Alice Cooper’s favorite Dominatrix on the TV series Something Wilder. And on HBO’s Arliss, she played a transvestite who lured a strait-laced athlete into a night of sin. In the indie feature, Donald and Dot Clock, her character bonded with a house-full of rodents.

It’s a career that prompted her New Orleans’ grandmother to ask: “Can’t you play a normal person?”

Mike Parker
– Obviously the big news right now is your role as Tigris in the upcoming blockbuster film, Mockingjay-Part 2. Were you a fan of the franchise before you got the role?

Eugenie Bondurant – My students were fans of the books, my teen acting students. They bugged me to read the books, which I hadn’t done before. These kinds of roles are in my wheelhouse. I don’t normally play the girl next door; I’m 6’1” so I don’t get cast in “normal” roles. When my agent sent me this role, I jumped on it. The description of the character; I thought it was so cool. Just to get the opportunity was amazing. The audition was fun, but the callback was hard work. It was the best callback I’ve ever had. When the offer came in I was beside myself. Yes, it is the role of a lifetime, and if I had the opportunity to play her again – absolutely.

Parker – You’ve made something of a trademark for playing characters that are, shall we say, a bit eclectic. Have you ever got the itch to take on a leading lady role; maybe a femme fatale?

Eugenie – I do. Occasionally. But I will say it is a lot of fun playing the girl with the twist. I’ve always enjoyed the interesting costumes, wardrobe, makeup. I’ve played everything from aliens to transvestites to crazy wives – A to Z interesting characters. Of course you want to play the lead. Everyone thinks the grass is greener over there, but I love the grass I’m standing on.

Parker – Working with creative people, such as actors and filmmakers, can be challenging in the best of circumstances, particularly when you are one. How do you keep yourself centered in such a highly pressurized environment as a big budget film set?

Eugenie – I teach. That keeps me centered and grounded. I have a fabulous relationship with my husband. We are both artists so we understand each other. As artists we both find creative outlets for ourselves. I’m involved with other things besides acting. I’m part of a radio ensemble. I do cabaret with my husband. I’m a gardener. I’m a cook. I have a passion for old houses. When things are skewed a little differently, I’ll paint a wall or sand a floor. A month ago I fixed my dishwasher. I’m in a stable strong relationship and I have a passion for things outside of the acting. When one of those things isn’t going strong, for example, I stopped auditioning for a while, and I spent my time teaching and keeping busy with other things. I love being on set. It is really fun. The cast and crew become your family. The Mockingjay set was extraordinary.

Parker – In addition to performing, you also teach on-camera acting through your Spoken True program. Can you talk about that program a bit?

Eugenie – I teach at a conservatory and at my studio. I teach on-camera acting, scene study and Meisner. I’ve helped a lot of students. I’m in Florida, so I’m trying to bring what I learned in LA here, and give my students that exposure. I love it. Many of my students have gone on to college theatre programs, have gotten agents and booked jobs. My job is done when they feel confident.

Parker – What’s next on your agenda?

Eugenie – The premier of Mockingjay – Part 2! And I’ve just been booked in another film that will be filming in New Orleans. My radio theatre project is starting in October. My nephew is getting married. My husband and I are starting our next cabaret show.

Parker – Last words?

Eugenie – I was deeply honored to play the role of Tigris. I’ve been approached by fans of the franchise online and on Twitter, and the people who have reached out have been extraordinary. They have a passion that is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I feel like I’ve been given a gift. How lucky? I’m grateful and honored to play this role.

The Seven Questions

  1. What’s your favorite sound?

Eugenie – The sound of my husband playing the piano.

  1. What makes you happy?

Eugenie – Seeing my students succeed.

  1. What makes you angry?

Eugenie – When people say they are going to do something, then they don’t do it. But I do forgive.

  1. What is the secret of success?

Eugenie – Happiness in yourself. It’s not always easy. Make sure that when you make a decision, that you are confident in that decision – even when you may not make the ‘right’ decision.

  1. Who would be on your dinner party guest list, if time and space were not a consideration?

Eugenie – My mom.

  1. What is the epitaph that is written on your tombstone?

Eugenie – “Love. Joy in her heart.”

  1. When you get to heaven, what is the first thing you want to hear God say to you?

Eugenie – “Welcome! Come in. Let’s have a party. Let’s play. We’ve been waiting for you.” He would be smiling.