Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Behind the Scenes

Linda Blair Talks The Exorcist: Believer Return, Mentoring Young Stars & Why She Left Hollywood

As The Exorcist: Believer hits Peacock, Blair speaks with NBC Insider about her surprise guest role in the new horror flick and her WorldHeart Foundation.

By Josh Weiss

Spoiler Warning! Spoilers for The Exorcist: Believer haunt the story below!

Just when Linda Blair thought she was out of the possession game, Lamasthu pulled her back in. That's the brand-new demon featured in writer-director David Gordon Green's The Exorcist: Believer, which concludes with a touching reunion between Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her estranged daughter, Regan (Blair).

Now streaming exclusively on Peacock, Believer marks the third official Exorcist turn from the 64-year-old Blair, who starred in the 1973 original directed by the late William Friedkin and its gonzo 1977 sequel — subtitled The Heretic — helmed by John Boorman. While Green's legacy sequel doesn't technically erase the events of Heretic from the continuity timeline, it is a little more preoccupied with the close relationship Regan shared with her mother 50 years ago.

How Linda Blair came to be involved with The Exorcist: Believer

Chatting with NBC Insider about acting and animal activism, Blair reveals her involvement with the supernatural horror project began with a "very respectful" phone call from David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum several years ago. Universal Pictures had just purchased the rights to the franchise for a whopping $400 million, and were planning to develop a fresh trilogy of films — à la Green's recent Halloween revamp.

RELATED: The Exorcist: Believer Director Explains Fresh Take on Possession at Heart of New Sequel

"[They said]: 'We understand you don’t really want to be part of it, but we’d love your blessing.’ And I’m like, ‘Absolutely,'" Blair remembers. "I ended up coming on, as everyone knows, as the advisor, helping with the girls. It is a very, very difficult journey and I wanted to make sure they were taken care of. I [also] helped do some story background, change some things up."

It was only later that they asked the actress if she'd be interested in making a brief cameo as Regan, who severed all ties with Chris after her mother published a book detailing the Georgetown exorcism. The small guest role at the tail end of Believer was filmed in a single day. "We put it together and hoped that it would put a big smile on people’s faces," Blair adds. "And I think it did. So for that, it’s all worth it."

Getting to share the same set with Burstyn again was just the icing on the proverbial Devil's Food Cake. In fact, the two have stayed in touch since their time spent making the '73 original, and Blair makes it a habit to regularly watch anything Burstyn appears in. "You can’t see her work, she’s seamless," Blair says. "She’s flawless and few actors are flawless. You don’t see the wheels turning. You feel like a part of the characters."

Linda Blair discusses her role as technical advisor on The Exorcist: Believer

When Friedkin died this past summer, Blair paid tribute to the filmmaker on Instagram, recalling how he shielded her 14-year-old self from the vehement Exorcist naysayers who claimed the film espoused Satanic beliefs. She wanted to pay it forward all these decades later by providing a comfortable space for Believer's two young leads, Lidya Jewett (Angela Fielding) and Olivia O'Neill (Katherine West).

"I wanted to make sure that they had any tools available on the set that they may have needed — whether it be religious. or psychological." the actress explains. "We had everything available to them in case they needed or wanted to talk to anybody. I knew following in my footsteps [would be] a difficult journey and I wanted them to have their own journey. I just wanted them to be taken care of."

RELATED: Does The Exorcist: Believer Have A Post-Credit Scene?

She continues: "These are hard movies to make. These are not easy because there’s a lot of psychology and there’s a lot of religion and there’s a lot of strife that’s involved. I just did think the girls did an amazing job. The whole cast did. They worked very, very hard in respect to the original film and bringing on a new storyline."

Will Linda Blair appear in The Exorcist: Deceiver?

Universal Pictures and Blumhouse plan to release two sequels to Believer. The sophomore installment, officially subtitled Deceiver, is slated for a wide theatrical rollout on April 18, 2025. Nothing is known about the plot or cast, but some fans are speculating that the next two movies could revolve around a campaign to save Katherine's soul from eternal damnation.

Who better to lend a helping hand than the original possessed little girl, Regan MacNeil? Blair, however, stresses that she is not privy to what might or might not come next: "I do not know anything about their plans. They have not communicated [them] to me in any way. So I don’t know if they are moving forward, not moving forward..."

Why doesn't Linda Blair really act anymore?

Linda Blair posing outside wearing a red top. She is standing next to two dogs.

Aside from a few appearances on reality and documentary projects like The Masked Singer, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Eli Roth's History of Horror, Linda Blair has mostly left Hollywood behind (her last major narrative role was as Detective Diana Ballard in an episode of Supernatural). That's because she's spent close to 20 years in a constant battle for animal rights, pushing back against shelter euthanasia and backyard breeding via the Lindar Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which the actress founded in 2003.

"I kind of unknowingly left the business because I gave my word to the animals," she explains, later adding: "I’m still a performer. I miss working, but I won’t leave my animal friends. I can’t. Spiritually, emotionally, I am unable to stop trying to help and change the laws and stop the unnecessary euthanasia and pet overpopulation."

As if to prove that point, she shows up a few minutes late to our call because her vet had a number of spay and neutering slots open up at the last minute. "I had to grab it," she says between apologies. "It’s really hard to get appointments."

RELATED: Dogs can smell stress through our sweat and breath

A lifelong animal lover (she once harbored a childhood ambition to pursue veterinary medicine), the actress actively took up the cause in 1984 when her dog was stolen right out of her home. "When you lose something you love like that, it just changes you forever," she declares.

Blair volunteered for a number of animal-friendly organizations after that, but found herself questioning the way in which they spent public donations. "I started my foundation in 2003 to try to keep the large organizations honest," she says. "To tell the public, ‘Hey! Give in your communities. Help in what you have right in front of you.' You can volunteer [by donating] blankets and towels; walking dogs and cats; getting their photos out at coffee shops. Literally hands-on."

At the same time, Blair navigates the winding byways of the political landscape in the hopes of enacting lasting change at the institutional level. Over the summer, for example, she submitted a 14-page open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, imploring him to declare a state of emergency. The document outlines the most pressing issues facing animals in the state (from kill shelters to natural disasters) and the ways in which they can be ameliorated (be it more affordable veterinarian services or emergency preparedness plans).

Bearing witness to the constant injustices against innocent creatures has left Blair and her peers emotionally scarred. "There’s no doubt we do have PTSD," the actress concludes. "Because of what we witness, and the public doesn’t want to hear it. The media, TV news, they’re reluctant to show some of the truth and we are begging them. It isn’t fair we all have to go through this experience. Things can change and get better, but the rescue community needs support."

The Exorcist: Believer is now streaming on Peacock alongside The Exorcist III and Exorcist: The Beginning.

Read more about: