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Exorcist Star Linda Blair On the Difference Between William Friedkin and David Gordon Green

It's like trying to compare demonic apples and oranges!

By Josh Weiss
A split featuring director William Friedkin, actress Linda Blair in The Exorcist (1973, and director David Gordon Green.

It took almost half a century, but Linda Blair finally did it — she reprised the character of Regan MacNeil for a small cameo appearance at the end of David Gordon Green's The Exorcist: Believer (now streaming exclusively on Peacock). So how did the experience differ from her time spent making the 1973 original under the the late William Friedkin

Well, it's basically like trying to compare demonic apples and oranges. "There's no comparison," the 64-year-old actress tells SYFY WIRE, chuckling genially over a phone call regarding her Hollywood career and WorldHeart animal activism. "Billy was very, very intense and that’s a whole book in itself. But he didn’t miss a beat. David truly was incredible — a gentleman. He didn’t want to touch anything between Ellen [Burstyn] and I. He just let us fly."

RELATED: The Exorcist Cast Endured Deaths, Fires and More Mishaps - Was the Set Haunted?

In fact, Green's sensibilities are apparently more in line with those of another late, great horror icon, Wes Craven, who directed Blair on the 1978 television movie, Summer of Fear (sometimes known as Stranger in Our House).

The Exorcist star Linda Blair compares David Gordon Green to Wes Craven

As Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) explains to Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.) in Believer, Regan disappeared after learning her mother intended to publish a tell-all memoir about the Pazuzu affair. The book was a bestseller and Chris gained a global reputation as an expert in demonic possession, but lost a daughter in the process.

And to be fair, Regan had a point: she understandably didn't want to publicly share details concerning the worst period of her life, even if she couldn't remember what happened. The two finally reconcile all these decades later once Chris is blinded in both eyes by the possessed Katherine (Olivia O’Neill). It's a poignant and touching moment (the parent-child reunion, not the ocular mutilation) that reduced Green to tears on the day of filming the short scene.

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

"He was crying," Blair remembers. "He’s very sensitive ... Similar to Wes Craven. They’re always smiling, laughing, but there’s a side of them that gets a real big kick and thrill out of the horror genre."

In addition to her cameo, Blair also served as a technical advisor, making sure the two film's two young leads, Lidya Jewett (Angela Fielding) and Olivia O'Neill (Katherine West), were taken care of. "I wanted to make sure the girls didn’t delve too much into what the character is because I didn’t," she says. "My [performance] was very choreographed. That is Billy Friedkin’s performance that I gave and I wanted to make sure the girls understood that, and that it’s a character [they’re playing]."

Why doesn't Linda Blair act anymore?

For the last 17 years, Blair has devoted the majority of her life to saving animals in California and throughout the country via the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. The non-profit organization fights against widespread shelter euthanasia and backyard breeding, while advocating for more affordable spay and neutering procedures at veterinarian practices across the United States.

The purpose of our call is less about discussing her part in a game-changing horror classic and more about appealing to the public. "We’re asking for things to change," the actress emphasizes. "If you love companion animals, please help us. Help in your communities. It means the world."

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