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SYFY WIRE The Exorcist

‘The Exorcist’ revival conjures Lidya Jewett as newest cast member

The young Nightbooks actor joins Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Dowd, and Exorcist veteran Ellen Burstyn.

By Benjamin Bullard
Lidya Jewett On The Red Carpet

The approaching return of The Exorcist to theaters this fall has our heads on a 360-degree swivel, as more information on Universal Pictures’ revival of the iconic horror franchise begins to emerge. In the latest bit of casting news, the first movie in the studio’s planned Exorcist trilogy has reportedly cast up-and-coming actor Lidya Jewett, known to Netflix viewers as the star of the Sam Raimi-produced 2021 dark fantasy film Nightbooks.

Deadline reports that Jewett has boarded the cast of the first The Exorcist film, which is set to arrive this October from Halloween trilogy reboot mastermind David Gordon Green. The Ethiopian-born actor joins a cast that already includes Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Ellen Burstyn, who at age 90 is reprising her role from the original 1973 movie as Chris MacNeil (aka Linda Blair’s mother).

In addition to her recent Nightbooks role, Jewett’s growing acting résumé includes a starring role in last year’s Ivy + Bean at Netflix, as well as appearances in Marvel’s Black Panther (as the young version of Nakia), the Oscar-nominated 2016 biopic Hidden Figures, and the 2018 post-apocalyptic sci-fi film The Darkest Minds. She’s also been spotted in a handful of small-screen roles in series that include Grey’s Anatomy, Bunk’d, and, in a long-running recurring part in NBC’s Good Girls.

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First revealed as part of a landmark $400 million rights-acquisition deal back in 2021, the present-day return of The Exorcist is slated for a connected three-movie cycle, with Universal Pictures debuting each film in theaters while Peacock gets first-run streaming dibs. Green and Peter Sattler (Camp X-Ray) are writing the first film’s screenplay, from a story by Green and Sattler alongside Green’s previous Halloween collaborators Scott Teems and Danny McBride.

Horror maven Jason Blum is producing the new movie via his Blumhouse Productions banner, in conjunction with James Robinson via Morgan Creek Entertainment. McBride and Couper Samuelson (The First Purge, Happy Death Day 2U) will serve as executive producers.

With a revival this big, story details are understandably being kept tightly under wraps — though Green told The Wrap last fall that the new incarnation of The Exorcist is taking a “dead serious” approach to its source material and won’t follow the same conventional horror beats as his recent Halloween reboot.

“I don’t even necessarily categorize it as a horror film, although it’s very horror appealing, it’s psychological and dramatic,” he said. “It doesn’t have the fun tension-breakers that Halloween would have, because you can’t lean into any of the more campy qualities that I think we enjoy from time to time in the Halloween movies. It’s dead serious and pretty straightforward, and I don’t know, I’m excited about it.”

The first film in the new The Exorcist trilogy is set to arrive in theaters just in time for this year’s spooky season with a premiere date of Oct. 13.

Suddenly in the mood for some ghostly horror? The Exorcist III is now streaming on Peacock!