The Exorcist's Ellen Burstyn Reveals The Surprising And Awesome Reason She Signed On For The Upcoming Sequel

ellen burstyn in The Exorcist
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Exorcist is considered one of the scariest movies not just of the 1970s, but of all time, and memorable horror stars have been wowing audiences of late with big comebacks – like how the recent Halloween sequel trilogy brought back Jamie Lee Curtis. Ellen Burstyn, who played the mother of the demonically-possessed child in the 1973 horror film, is now becoming a part of this trend by starring in the Exorcist sequel that is scheduled to come out next year, and she has revealed the surprising and awesome reason why she decided to sign on for the upcoming project.

While Linda Blair has the most iconic role in The Exorcist as the terrifying Regan, Ellen Burstyn’s character goes through plenty in the movie, having to fight her daughter as she’s taken over by a demon and witness the horror she inflicts on herself and others. In a Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter, the 89-year-old actress explained why she decided to take on the upcoming legacyquel after rejecting multiple offers. She explained,

I’ve turned down many versions of The Exorcist 2. I’ve said no every time. This time they offered me a whole bunch 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 this.' 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 price is a scholarship program for talented students at our master’s degree program at Pace University. That’s my price.’ So I then went back and upped their up and ended up getting what I want. And I’ve got a scholarship program for young actors.

It’s such a beautiful thing for Ellen Burstyn to reprise the role of Chris MacNeil for the purpose of bringing a scholarship program for young actors. I'm so glad she got her way. She’s been the co-president of the Actors Studio since 2000, alongside Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin. This membership organization for professional actors has a Master’s degree program at Pace University. Once students graduate with an M.A. degree, they can head right into the final audition to get accepted into the Actors Studio compared to having to do the preliminary audition first. Being able to present a scholarship to many young actors proves she wields her presidential role well. 

The new Exorcist trilogy has the potential to revitalize the horror franchise when you think about the success of the Halloween sequel trilogy and the Scream series. David Gordon Green, director of the new Halloween films, signed on as director for The Exorcist sequels in July 2021, and a new trilogy of movies will continue after the story from the 1973 classic. This means we can completely ignore the poorly-received sequels that followed. 

Daid Gordon Green has said that he enjoys making these sequels because it's a chance to revisit his childhood during the time these chilling classics first came out, and he makes it his mission to honor the magic they brought. Screenwriter Scott Teems has said that he is feeling the pressure of taking on these upcoming sequels, but his efforts will hopefully be worth it.

Ellen Burstyn told THR that she has shot most of the sequel and very much likes working with David Gordon Green. The new Exorcist movie will center on a father (Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr.) who turns to Ellen Burstyn’s Chris MacNeil for answers when his is child possessed by a demon. Since this woman went through the wringer when she tried to help her own daughter in the William Friedkin-directed original, she should have wisdom to share.

You can see the upcoming horror sequel when the untitled The Exorcist 2 scares its way into theaters and onto Peacock on October 13, 2023.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.