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Whether you even realized it or not, Bonnie Aarons gave you nightmares long before The Conjuring 2 turned her into the most terrifying demon-nun in horror movie history.
It’s kind of wild that Valak, who gets her own spinoff prequel courtesy of this year’s The Nun, has become such a memorable horror icon, because she actually wasn’t even originally supposed to appear in The Conjuring 2. Initially, Valak was embodied by a devil-like creature, but James Wan brilliantly came up with the concept of the evil nun very late in the game. According to many reports, the Nun was actually added into the movie during reshoots, her design based on an account relayed to Wan by the real Lorraine Warren.
Valak the nun was played in The Conjuring 2 by actress Bonnie Aarons, who reprises the role in Corin Hardy’s The Nun. At this point, it’s safe to say that Aarons has become something of a modern day horror icon, but what you may not realize about the actress is that scaring the shit out of audiences is nothing new for her…
Remember the nightmarish “Bum” from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive? Many consider the character’s brief jump-scare appearance to be one cinema’s most genuinely terrifying moments; back in 2015, Indiewire named the shocking appearance of the filthy vagrant one of the 40 Scariest Movie Moments of all Time, coming in at a respectable #10.
Yes, it was Bonnie Aarons who played the Bum before becoming the Nun!
Elsewhere in the film world, Aarons made her feature debut in 1994’s Exit to Eden as “The Prostitute,” subsequently appearing in films such as Dear God, Shallow Hal, Wristcutters: A Love Story, I Know Who Killed Me, Hell Ride, Dahmer vs. Gacy, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. Outside the horror genre, Aarons is most known for playing Baroness Joy von Troken in both The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Aarons even appeared briefly in Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, during Sylvia’s “death feast”!
According to her bio on Wikipedia, “Aarons attended acting school in New York City, but was frequently told that she would not have an acting career, due to her look and her nose.” Of course, it was Aarons’ unique look that eventually won over both David Lynch and James Wan, the two visionary directors casting her to give the rest of us enduring nightmares.
Bonnie Aarons imparts more fear as Valak in The Nun, arriving September 7.