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Linda Blair Doesn’t Star In The New Exorcist Movie - But She Did Help Out For Long-Awaited Sequel
Who better to coach the latest generation on how to comport yourself while possessed by a demon?
Who better to coach a new generation on how to act when you're possessed by a demon than Linda Blair herself?
The actress who played Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist and its wild 1977 sequel doesn't appear in the upcoming reboot — subtitled Believer (out in theaters everywhere this October) — but she did serve as a technical advisor, the film's director, co-writer, and executive producer David Gordon Green revealed during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Is Linda Blair in The Exorcist: Believer?
No, though she did help out the project as a technical advisor.
"She helped us bring excellent performances out of young actresses," he said. "It was really valuable having a relationship with her and being able to get her as a part of this conversation."
He elaborated on Blair's duties while in conversation with Empire, noting that she helped "to take us into not just how to get a great performance out of a young actress, but how to create an environment that can safely do that. Because we’re getting into a lot of psychology and the depths of darkness in a lot of ways. How could we do that with a sense of responsibility, to take these amazing, very giving, very vibrant young performers and go into misery as they find themselves in this state of possession."
In a conversation with Fandango to celebrate the release of the film's second trailer in September, Green elaborated further, explaining that it was important to the production to have Blair on set, along with teachers and child psychologists, to ensure the safety of the film's young stars. Blair, of course, famously went to many of the same dark places for The Exorcist 50 years ago, and that meant she was able to act as a guide, as well as an example of how to move forward with the film's spiritual darkness.
The fact that Linda had blazed this trail before was really, really valuable to all of us in trying to set a really healthy path to go to a pretty bizarre place," Green said.
Those young actresses are Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum, playing Angela and Katherine, a pair of best friends who begin to act strangely after they go missing in the woods for three days.
"They were two jewels from the very first auditions," Green told Empire. "It was great to be able to turn a camera on and not even script them. I used their expertise to help drive the dialogue. And it does become performance art once they go into the possessed state. That was a really fun, provocative and strange experience too. Those girls go deep."
In an effort to free the girls from the evil entity using their bodies as meat puppets to spew blasphemy and pea soup, Angela's father, widower Victor Fielding (Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr.), seeks out the world's foremost authority on demonic possession: Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn reprising the character for the first time in half a century).
Since the events of the 1973 original, Chris has written a tell-all book about what happened to her daughter and knows that the only way to vanquish a demon is to utilize several religious tricks of the trade. "[She] became a bit of an expert," Green explained to EW. "Not an exorcist herself, but renowned for the books that she's written."
While Regan doesn't make a physical appearance in the new movie (perhaps they're saving her for one of the two confirmed sequels?), Green promised that Believer "alludes to her character in a number of ways." As you may have noticed already, the first trailer contains a photo of young Blair, though the internet has already been quick to point out that the image was used in the promotional artwork for the 1975 TV movie Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, which also starred a pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill.
We'll see how well Blair's young protégées fare once The Exorcist: Believer officially hits the big screen Friday, Oct. 13 by way of Universal Pictures and Blumhouse. A sequel — officially titled The Exorcist: Deceiver — is tentatively slated to open on April 18, 2025, Variety confirms. The title and release date (tentative or otherwise) for the third movie have not been announced yet.