Friday, August 1, 2008

Where Are They Now - The Exorcist Edition

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It has now been 35 years since one of the greatest most classic horror films of all time made its presence known. The Exorcist was released in 1973 and spawned two sequels and even two prequels. But where have the original cast members, who have managed to scare the holy hell out of us for over 30 years. been?

Linda Blair - Regan

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THEN

An unknown at the time, Linda Blair was pretty much the last person who was originally being looked at for the role of Regan. Director William Friedkin claims that due to the excruciating search to find a young girl suitable for the role, he even briefly considered auditioning adult midget actors. Obviously, Blair triumphed and will forever be best known as Regan, the pea soup spewing little demon for which she was even nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar as well as winning a Golden Globe and People's Choice Award. Her Oscar hopes and dreams were dashed when the news leaked that it was actually a different actress, the late Mercedes McCambridge, who voiced the demon along with liberal use of a dummy. So where did the promising young actress go from there?

NOW

Post Exorcist, Blair landed roles in several successful television films before reprising her role as Regan in Exorcist 2 : The Heretic in 1977. The film's flop killed almost all of the momentum Blair had going for her. In late 1977, she was arrested for cocaine and amphetamine possession. Over the next few decades, she appeared in many not so well known low budget films before once again going to the Exorcist well for the spoof film, Repossessed. In the 2000's she hosted Fox Family's series The Scariest Places on Earth. Most recently, Blair appeared in an episode of Supernatural which payed homage to her role in the Exorcist. Now 49 years old, she owns a charity, the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals. While she's got almost 40 film credits to her name, I think it's safe to say Linda Blair did not live up to the post Exorcist hype and will forever be linked solely to the film.

Ellen Burstyn - Chris MacNeil

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THEN

Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft and even Audrey Hepburn were approached to play the role of Chris, which eventually went to Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn had already had considerable success pre Exorcist, netting a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Last Picture Show. Burstyn got the Best Actress nom for her role in The Exorcist.

NOW

Post Exorcist was a rocky road in the personal life of Burstyn. After divorcing her third husband in 1972, she was stalked by him over a period of 10 years and even raped, which went unpunished. The drama finally culminated in 1978 in the man's suicide. But Bursytn triumphed. She went on to win the Best Actress Academy Award for Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore in 1974 and was also nominated several times over the next few decades for the films Same Time Next Year , Resurrection, and Requiem For A Dream. Her latest film appeareances were roles in the films The Fountain and The Wicker Man and a tv appearance on HBO's Big Love. The 75 year old Burstyn will next be seen in Oliver Stone's upcoming George W. Bush film, W.

Max Von Sydow - Father Lankester Merrin

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THEN

As was the case with most actors in the film due to director William Friedkin wanting a lesser known cast, the studios desire for Marlon Brando to play Father Merrin was denied in favor of Sydow. Sydow had a long career in film pre Exorcist, mostly in his native Sweden. The Exorcist brought Sydow onto the radar of American audiences and garnered him Golden Globe nominations.

NOW

Sydow went on to reprise his role as Father Merrin in the Exorcist 2. He has went on to star in many successful American films including Never Say Never Again, Dune, Minority Report, Rush Hour 3, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The 79 year old Sydow currently lives in Paris with his wife where he enjoys reading, listening to music, and gardening. He has stated that as long as he continues to get decent roles, Max has no intentions of retiring from the world of acting. He currently has several films in production.

Jason Miller - Father Damien Karras

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THEN

Jason Miller, the father of Lost Boys actor Jason Patric, had never appeared in a film before strapping on a bottle of holy water for The Exorcist. Director Friedkin spotted Miller in a Broadway play and decided he wanted him over Jack Nicholson, Stacy Keach, and Gene Hackman. Keach had already been signed on for the role, but Warner Bros. bought out his contract so Miller could have the role. Talk about pressure. Miller lived up to Friedkin's hopes when he got the Academy Award nom for Best Supporting Actor.

NOW

Miller continued to have a career in film after The Exorcist, but he preferred to continue his work in the theatre, where he was both actor and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Miller did however slap on the robe one more time for a reprisal of his role as Father Karras in the failed Exorcist 3 in 1990. Sadly, in 2001 at the age of 62, Miller died of a heart attack in Scranton, Pennysylvania. My apologies for the poor taste of the above image but everyone else got a "now" photo...

William Friedkin - Director

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Friedkin was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 5, including Best Director, two years prior to the Exorcist with The French Connection. While he didn't win the Best Director statue for Exorcist, it was nominated for 10 different awards. Post Exorcist, Friedkin has directed the films Rules of Engagement, The Hunted, and his most recent work, Bug. He last directed an episode of CSI and currently has no projects in production.


I'm sure you've heard of the "Exorcist Curse" or even seen the E! True Hollywood Story on it. Apparently, several crew members were killed during the filming of the movie. Some suggest there was some kind of demonic force trying to prevent the film from being made. There are rumors of anywhere from four to nine people dying during the 15 month filming period. Max Von Sydow's brother and Linda Blair's Grandfather's lives ended while filming was in progress. Another rumor is that the set caught on fire one night when no one was there, with no explanation. Some claim that heart attacks were occuring all over the areas where the film was premiered and that even a huge 400 year old cross was struck by lightning during the premiere in Rome. Whether any of these rumors are true or not, it should be noted that John Frankenheimer, the original director of the Exorcist Prequel The Beginning, died shortly before filming began. Cursed or not the Exorcist will forever remain one of the scariest horror films of all time.

38 comments:

Lovelydirk said...

Sorry to say that, but your Academy Award comments for William Friedkin are not correct. He was NOT nominated for 8 Academy Awards. He was nominated for two Academy Awards, both for best director, and he won one for "The French Connection" in 1971

Frank said...

A very nice read, thank you. It contained some trivia I did not know.

Anonymous said...

Instead of apologizing in advance for the poor taste of the skull in the after picture of Jason Miller (Father Karas) why don't you just take it down and replace it with a simple "Passed away in 2001" message? When I first saw it all I could think of was "Oh geeez, why did he do that? That's so not funny and so very tasteless." How would you feel if one of your deceased relatives were portrayed in that fashion? How would you like to be portrayed in that fashion? Have a little empathy.

Anonymous said...

What about Kitty Winn, who played Sharon?

Rich D said...

THere's a good piece about Miller speaking about the film a year before he died.- http://tinyurl.com/5js5qj

Anonymous said...

What the hell is wrong with you? Take down that image of a skull. You're ignorant and disrespectful and you know that you are. Grow up.

Prospero said...

Sorry, I just don't find this movie to be scary in the least. Cheesy special effects, dubbed voices and an absolutely ridiculous premise make for one of the unintentionally funniest movies I've ever seen. And the other posters are right - you should remove the tasteless skull image.

Mike said...

TAKE DOWN THE SKULL.....YOU THINK
YOU'RE FUNNY, BUT YOUR NOT. JASON
MILLER DESERVES SOME RESPECT....
I WAS A VERY CLOSE FRIEND OF HIS AND I'M VERY OFFENDED...SO, AGAIN...PLEASE, TAKE DOWN THE SKULL.

THANKYOU.....

Josher said...

Re: Prospero said...
Why do people say "Sorry" when they're really "not".
As for not finding "The Exorcist" scary...
... please consider the year the movie was released.
At the time...no movie with the language, violence and Subject matter had ever been seen on the big screen.
So yeah, this must have been pretty heavy stuff for the early 70's.
Plus, the "ridiculous premise" was NOT so ridiculous for *some* catholics at the time.
However, I *do* agree the tasteless skull image should be removed.
Surely you can find one of the last images of Jason Miller on the internet. Ever hear of Google?

Chris said...

I think the skull is funny.

Anonymous said...

DO NOT TAKE DOWN THE SKULL!! IT IS HILARIOUS!! AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OFFENDED BY IT ARE HILARIOUS-ER!! Hahaha...

What's so offensive about a skull?

Should we pretend Jason Miller DIDN'T have a skull? Or maybe they're offended that the skull isn't his. In which case, I suggest you take the picture down right away and replace it with an actual current photo of Jason Miller's corpse.

After all, if you can't laugh at death, what can you laugh at...?

Anonymous said...

I understand that Exorcist is supposed to be a horror film -- & I respect Friedkin for other films; but something went wrong somewhere with this one. I saw this film once at a midnight showing in 1976-7 (?). It seemed funny and shallow at the time. Never watched it again.

J T said...

Max von Sydow's last name is not 'Sydow' — it's 'von Sydow' (yes, with a lower case 'V' — and for the record, it's pronounced: von SEE Dow, not von SIDE Ow ;-). He also went on to play the uber cool assassin Joubert opposite Robert Redford in Sydney Pollack's classic CIA thriller 'Three Days of the Condor' (1975), and finally received a long overdue Oscar nomination (Best Actor in a Leading Role) for his performance in 'Pelle the Conquerer' (1988).

von Sydow was only 43 years old when he played the octogenarian titular character in 'The Exorcist'.

von Sydow also holds the triple-crown distinction of being the only actor to have played God's nemesis (the devil in 'Needful Things'), God's son (Jesus in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told') and God's emissary (Father Merrin in 'The Exorcist').

The mother of Jason Miller's son, Jason Patric, is Linda Gleason...daughter of 'The Great One', Jackie Gleason (Ralph Kramden on the classic 50s TV show 'The Honeymooners'). Miller and Gleason had three children together, including Jason, and divorced 10 years after they were married — the same year 'The Exorcist' was released.

Irish actor Jack MacGowran, who played Burke Dennings (the director of the movie within the movie), died of pneumonia shortly after completing his role in 'The Exorcist'.

I agree with the other posters: the skull photo for Jason Miller is completely tasteless.

Mortis said...

Have a god damn sense of humor, will ya?

Matthew said...

That Skull is funny as shit!!!!! LOL!

Captain Howdy said...

Interesting post. A few factual errors but otherwise refreshing to see people still recognize The Exorcist as an all-time great!

The skull is pretty lame... there are plenty of 'later' photos of Miller just months before he passed... RIP Jason.

shaneomac said...

I prefer the fresh clean skull look of Jason Miller rather the rotting, yellowing, sunken pre-death shot you are all yearning for. Please if you cant find any humor within the dark sullen holes were Miller's eyes once sat than you have no place on this planet.

Anonymous said...

Exorcist 3 - failed? True, the film was compromised by post-production studio meddling, but Blatty's follow-up to his novel contains many chilling, harrowing, and imaginative sequences.

David said...

I enjoyed reading this, but I found the skull very tasteless, and should be taken down. There are other pictures of the late, but great Jason Miller that shows him before his untimely death. It's one thing to make fun of death, but to make fun of a respected actor who is unfortunately deceased, that's just awful.

Anyway, I still love The Exorcist. What person in their right mind wasn't affected by that film?

Anonymous said...

Good article ruined by a completely tasteless photo.

Those of you who think it's funny obviously never saw the man alive. Try imagining it's your mom or dad, it won't be so funny then.

Anonymous said...

Our mothers, fathers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, dogs, cats, and fish all have skeletons within. This is a humorous posting that people are making entirely too serious, people relax, we all will die one day!

Ann said...

You know he's just leaving that skull to get a lot of people to write on his blog and protest it.
Get a life, loser.little

Mortis said...

No, i'm leaving that picture because that's what I originally posted and i'm not editing what I do because some humorless sad sack is offended by it. I'd rather you post about the article then continue to comment on a picture of a human skull. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

You know the skull image is in poor taste (you offer a so-called apology for it), but you are angry and defensive when people agree with you. Classy.

Anonymous said...

That skull image needs to go. It's immature and disrespectful.

People who say THE EXORCIST isn't "scary" probably watched the DVD. When it opened in Houston (December of 1974) it played at exactly one theater, the Village near Rice University: none of this business of movies playing on every flat surface in America.

We got there about 5:30 for the 9 PM show. Do the math- three hours and some change standing in line. The auditorium was packed and the excitement level could have powered an aircraft carrier. When it started we were ready to be completely immersed in the story.

Now that there have been literally hundreds of imitations of THE EXORCIST it, like JAWS, may seem quaint.

You just had to have been there.

Anonymous said...

Great article on the Exorcist cast.

Anonymous said...

After all, this IS a blog about the Exorcist, so all of those who think the skull is not funny, shut up. Especially those who were friends of Jason's. You did not need to know him to know he would think it was funny.
And Kitty Winn would have a skull, too, if she was shown here. She is dead as well. Details? That is what the IMDb and Google are for.

Anonymous said...

This is me, who posted the prior posting. Before I get to my point, someone posted that regarding those who believe the skull is funny, "Try imagining it's your mom and dad." Chill out. And I suppose this person has evidence that Jason Patric has seen this blog and is offended? Anyway, apparently Kitty Winn is not dead - I get her confused with Janet Margolin, who IS dead. So to do penance, I Googled and found that as of 1999, she was married with kids, according to SFGATE:

Annette Bening wasn't the first actress to be discovered by Hollywood while performing with the American Conservatory Theater. That distinction goes to Kitty Winn, who was in ACT's original ensemble company from 1967 to 1970.

Hollywood producer Dominick Dunne saw Winn play "Saint Joan" on the stage of the Geary Theater. Dunne is now known as a celebrity journalist, but in 1970 he was trying to cast "The Panic in Needle Park," a harrowing story about barely surviving drug addicts. He went to Winn's dressing room after the play and invited her to Los Angeles to audition for his film.

Not only did Winn get the lead, she got more attention than her co-star, Al Pacino, in his first big role. She was named best actress at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. More parts followed, most notably as Ellen Burstyn's secretary in 1973's "The Exorcist."
But movie acting lost its allure and, after marrying Los Angeles attorney and businessman Morton Winston, Winn walked away from it.

"I retired 20 years ago to raise a family," said Winn, 56, who has a 14-year-old daughter and a grown stepdaughter. "It wasn't difficult to retire. I have friends who have a family life and do their art and make it work. I realized I couldn't give myself to both, and I really wanted to make a life with my husband, so that's what I did."

While Winn has no regrets about giving up films, she does regret not returning to ACT. She and William Ball, the company's founder, talked about her doing another play, but the timing didn't work out.

Winn, who was in ACT's first production of "Tartuffe" in 1967, came back last month to see the company's revival of the show. Looking around at the restored Geary, she sighed, "This theater still feels like home."

Matt said...

You know, if you don't find this movie to be the least bit scary, I highly doubt you believe in God.

ToyMan said...

a few thoughts:

all the skull-whiners are touchholes. WELCOME TO THE INTERNET, FOLKS.

i think this movie is scary, and i don't believe in god. imagine that.

trixareforjen said...

We use the skull as a symbol of death as we use a heart for the symbol of love, and I think the skull is appropriate because we are all human and we all have skulls and death is a part of life. If you have a problem, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it...

a pious atheists virtuous indignation said...

you know, even at 49 linda blair is still a gorgeous bird and a right little darlin`, but then again so is pamelyn ferdin, (hint, hint), i still wouldn`t mind finding myself in bed with both those birds.

willy jerk-off said...

the power of linda blair compels me to want to rip all her clothes off and perform every sex act in the book on that incredible little sexpot.

Johnny said...

you may be my new favorite commenter, sir!

willy jerk-off said...

johnny, if that one made you laugh how about this one, "when there`s no more room left in hell the dead will bugger linda blair until her arse is red raw".

Mrs Polidori said...

To say that The Exorcist is "cheesy", you should think of the year it was. 1973; the special effects are damned better than any CGI shit of today. Now that does look cheap. At least you know that everything was happening real and the actors went through all of it as you would in real life. If it was now, it would just be a bunch of guys near a desk, putting together a load of computerized vomit, cold breath and thinking they can get away with it.

And as for the skull picture, Jason was cremated, so that rules the skull out, and besides that, what stupid bastard would even think of doing that? Grow up and stop being a complete sicko. It's not even funny. And don't go saying, "oh, take a joke", cos death in the form of someone we know or death in general is not to be joked about, at all. So have some respect. (Well, if you had any, that pic would not even come into it in the first place).

Johnny said...

Hey at least you read my post, Mrs. Polidori. Thanks =)

Anonymous said...

Lighten up readers........your rage is appauling , obviously youhaven't a life.....SO GET ONE!!!!!