Ellen Burstyn reveals why she’s coming back for the reboot

Something rare in the horror genre is a film that stands the test of time, and especially one that wins an Oscar in addition to garnering 10 nominations in total. In 1974, after becoming the highest-grossing film of ’73, that’s exactly what the controversial William FriedkinThe polarizing adaptation of the novel The Exorcist did, and the film’s success owes, in large part, those accolades to the Oscar-winning actress Ellen Burstyn. Almost 50 years later, after repeatedly refusing to reprise his role, Burstyn has finally agreed to return to the kingdom of Pazuzu, much to the delight of fans. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress revealed the deal she made to return for David Gordon Greenthe highly anticipated sequel.

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First reported just over a year ago, the horror community was deeply shaken when it was announced that Green – whose Halloween trilogy ends in October – would be leading an all-new The Exorcist after. What really sent fans off, however, was the confirmation of Burstyn’s return as Chris MacNeil, an actress and Regan’s loving mother (Linda Blair). After two sequels and two prequels and no Burstyn, it seemed unlikely fans would see her face off against old demons again. So what convinced the actress to return to a role she left behind almost 50 years ago?

In her interview, Burstyn sat down to discuss the significance of her involvement with The Actor’s Studio in New York, which partners with Pace University. As the Studio’s 75th anniversary approaches, Burstyn, who serves as Co-Chair alongside Al Pacino, the association is preparing a “series of Sunday screenings”. Since 1967, the Actor’s Studio has been a place of great importance in the life of the actress and has provided her not only with expertise alongside greats like Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, but with a philosophy towards the arts. It was his passion for the Studio that cemented Burstyn’s retaliation against MacNeil. It wasn’t Green’s first outstanding financial offer to persuade her, nor the second. double offers, but Burstyn’s deep devotion to the Actor’s Studio and to the craft itself. During a negotiation, the actress negotiated a scholarship program for students at Pace University:


“You know, what happened was that I turned down many versions of The Exorcist 2. I said no every time. This time they offered me a whole lot of money and I still said no. And then they surprised me and they came back and said, “We doubled the offer.” I said, “OK, let me think about that.” I thought, “That’s a lot of money. Let me think about it.” The next thought that came to mind was, “I feel like the devil is asking my price.” And the next thought that came to mind was : “My award is a scholarship program for talented students in our masters program at Pace University. This is my award. So I went back and increased their place and ended up getting what I wanted to. And I have a scholarship program for young actors.”

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Burstyn went on to inform that the majority of Green’s top three Exorcist movies have been shot. For all the Green fans out there, she mentioned that she loves working with the filmmaker and will be returning to production next November to polish up some shoots. She added that the film had gone through the editing process and that “…it will be released in 2024 on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcistthe original.”

As Chris MacNeil in 1973, Burstyn probably delivered one of the most believable performances ever in a demonic possession movie. While there were heads turning and the infamous pea soup vomit, nothing on The Exorcist came out as campy. Rather, Burstyn gave birth to a tortured mother desperate to save her young daughter. While she may not necessarily be the last girl of her kind, Chris MacNeil is one woman not to be messed with. In the film, she was a recently divorced mother who juggled acting and raising her independent, witty daughter, Regan. In the few scenes leading up to Regan’s possession, Burstyn and Blair developed a strong mother-daughter bond that made every second of this gruesome exorcism scene 100% compelling.


Other notable credits for Burstyn are his Oscar-winning role in Martin Scorseseit is Alice doesn’t live here anymoreopposite Kris Kristofferson, The wicker man as Sister SummersIsle, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Requiem for a Dream, where she played the heartbreaking role of Sara Goldfarb. Burstyn will be joined in Green’s Exorcist restart by hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. who is set to play the father of a possessed child who asks MacNeil for help. Jason Blum will produce the trilogy for Blumhouse with Morgan Creek james robinson and david robinson.

The Exorcist is set to own theaters on October 13, 2024. Check out Collider’s interview with the director below, where Green discusses the differences between his Halloween trilogy and this one:

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