As part of of 2016 San Diego Comic-Con coverage, david j. moore chats with Geena Davis and Jeremy Slater about The Exorcist TV series…
Designed as a continuation of the original film adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, Fox’s TV series The Exorcist takes the mythos in a bold new direction, while honoring the original film, directed by William Friedkin. In this interview, conducted at San Diego Comic Con, Academy Award-winning star Geena Davis discusses her role in the series, while executive producer Jeremy Slater dishes on the fact that the series is most definitely not a reboot or a remake.
Geena, you’ve done some horror movies in the past; I consider Beetlejuice a horror movie, and of course there’s Cronenberg’s The Fly. Those movies have lasted the test of time. Now you’re in The Exorcist, so there’s been a long gap of no horror for you. How does it feel to be back in the genre?
GD: Love it. I love it. I love horror. I love to watch horror movies and be in them, so just hearing the title of this series when they called me and wanted to talk to me, I went Oh my God. The reaction of anyone who I’ve told about this has been just … it’s had a very strong place in everyone’s psyche. Everybody saw the original and was scarred by it.
Were you scarred by it?
GD: Oh, yeah. I was 13, and I remember it so vividly. My parents didn’t know anything about it. I went with some neighbors, and I’d only seen “G” movies up till then. I never told them what the movie was like. It was pretty out there.
Can you talk a little bit about building the dynamic between the other characters? Alan Ruck is playing your husband in the series, and how was it for you to balance the horror elements with the family drama style?
GD: Right, right. The characters are so well designed, and as an actor, I thought, Wow, I want to play this character. She has a very complicated life with all these problems. That’s always great to play. I’m having so much fun. She has a very high quality job and her husband has brain damage. She has two daughters and something’s going on … There’s a lot to deal with, and it gets worse and worse as the series goes on. The movie is so iconic, and hopefully people come to understand that this is not a remake. We fully acknowledge that that movie took place, and this is an “Uh-oh: It’s happening again.”
JS: I think everyone on board feels the responsibility of following in the footsteps of that and knowing that the original film casts a very long shadow. We feel that responsibility every single day. We are being true to the spirit of The Exorcist and telling a story that will satisfy fans of that, while bringing in an entire new generation of viewers.
Is there any connectivity to the original?
JS: There’s a little bit. If you watch the pilot, you’ll see that we have some hat tips and homages to some of the famous moments, but you’ll see a reference scene where the original is referenced. That’s our way of letting the fans know that the story you love hasn’t been written out of existence. This is a new story with new characters that takes place in the same universe as the original film. It’s more a continuation of the story, as opposed to a reboot or a remake.
Did William Blatty give you his blessing? Or Friedkin?
JS: Not Friedkin, no. But I hope he watches the show and likes it! We have the rights to William Peter Blatty’s novel. He’s not very involved creatively, but he’s been pitched and briefed about everything, and he’s incredibly excited. We can’t wait for him to visit on set because this is his baby. He created it. Right now, we’re just trying to do it justice.
The Exorcist premiers on FOX on September 23rd.
david j. moore