I was really surprised when I heard a series based on The Exorcist was in the works. I guess it makes sense given the modern media culture of reboots and remakes, but I’d be afraid to touch it with a ten-foot pole. This isn’t some fan favorite like A Nightmare on Elm Street or a cult classic like Black Christmas.
This is the first horror movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture. It won two Academy Awards. It brought respect to the genre. It’s the movie that people point to when they say, “I don’t really like horror, but that was good.”
What I’m saying is that if you make an Exorcist reboot, it better not suck. Even though I kind of like Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, it’s certainly nowhere near The Exorcist. Comparing any movie to The Exorcist is a doomed endeavor. So putting the name right in the title is just inviting all kinds of criticism.
This might all sound like doom and gloom, but from what I’ve seen of Fox’s “The Exorcist” series, they are taking this whole “not sucking” concept to heart. Judging from the trailer, it’s looking to hit that sweet spot between personal drama and terrifying demon stuff.
I got to talk to writer Jeremy Slater, along with series stars Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, and the always wonderful Geena Davis, about “The Exorcist” at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. The show is in that rare middle spot between pilot and shooting the rest of the episodes, so I got a lot of cool info about what the TV world of “The Exorcist” is going to look like.
First up was Ben Daniels, who told us what we can expect from Father Marcus:
Ben: Father Marcus isn’t your typical priest. He’s from a violent working class family and has been performing exorcisms since he was 11. I can’t go into specifics, but we learn that something very traumatic happened to him when he was just 8. All of that pent-up rage is part of what gives him so much strength, but also makes him a hard person to deal with. He’s a very complicated character, and you can tell he has been through and seen a lot. Expect him to speak many different languages in the show.
He went on to talk about his role in creating Father Marcus:
Ben: The role was originally written for a 30-year-old American. So when I met with them for it, they asked me to come up with all this extra personality and backstory. I had a lot of input in molding him, down to what music he listens to. They wanted to make sure he felt rooted in reality. So I did a lot of research. Before all of this, Catholicism always sat in this fictitious realm to me. The more I researched, let’s just say it sits in a slightly more real place now. I don’t know what it is, but something can happen to us that changes and afflicts us. I don’t know if it’s physical or truly spiritual, but it’s in every culture. After reading about all of this, I started freaking out at every bump I heard in the night. I kept saying to myself, “Shit! I let them in! This is how this all works!”
Sitting next to him was Alfonso Herrera. Here’s what we can expect from his character, Father Tomas Ortega:
Alfonso: Father Tomas lives a quiet life. He has a small parish in Chicago, where his dedicated congregation follows him religiously. He has a joy in being heard, and with that comes a bit of ego. And perhaps it is because of that ego that a gate is opened and this negative spirit is allowed through. He also has a connection to Father Marcus that is uncovered and explored through the series. They are very different men, and it is up to them to get along to conquer the evil.
Next up was Geena Davis and series writer Jeremy Slater. Geena had a lot to say, starting with what drew her to the role of Angela Rance:
Geena: I think I’m a bit spoiled since I got to play some really cool parts very early in my career. So I’m a very picky when it comes to my roles. I wait for stuff I feel like is really worth it, and this caught my attention right away. I read the script and kept thinking, “I really want to do that/say that line,” and that’s due to the excellent writing by Jeremy Slater. The character was just so interesting, and that’s really what I go by. I don’t want to just be the girlfriend or mother of someone doing something. I want to be doing things myself. I get to play a character that is interesting in her own right and has a lot to do and get done.
She went on to comment about how the show would stack up to the film:
Geena: The question that we keep getting asked is: Are we afraid of the comparison to the film? And the answer is no. It’s a revered film, and we’re not trying to change that with the show. It takes place in the same world and we make mention of the events of the film, but this takes place a few decades later. This is about a new evil coming into the world and these characters having to face it.
Obviously, if you have Geena Davis in a room, you have to ask her about Beetlejuice 2. She had a few words about it:
Geena: You know, I keep reading about it, but no one has talked to me about it. I worry that they might not want me because maybe ghosts don’t age. And you know, between me and Alec [Baldwin], one of us has definitely aged.
This is where Jeremy Slater joined in:
Jeremy: Yeah, but does America even want a Beetlejuice without Geena Davis? I vote no! Come on; speak up, America!
Well put, Jeremy. I don’t think fans would stand for that! I wanted to ask him more about his writing process, but the time was very limited and they had to move on. However, I did get a quick aside about the upcoming Death Note film he was slated to write. I told him that I looked forward to seeing what he did with it, and his answer was surprising:
Jeremy: So do I! I had to drop out of the project for “The Exorcist.” I’m not too worried; it’s in very good hands. Shooting just started in Vancouver.
I wish I could have gotten more details, but all I can confirm for now is that he is no longer working on Death Note. This is very troubling considering how Fantastic Four turned out. So keep a close and wary eye on that one.
So what do you guys think? Excited for “The Exorcist”? Let me know below, and stay tuned for more San Diego Comic-Con 2016 coverage!
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