'The Exorcist': Photos From the 1973 Horror Film Set
8:00 AM PDT 4/26/2013 by As told to Gregg Kilday
With a new memoir just published and a 40th anniversary Blu-ray on the way, William Friedkin remembers how Warners refused to hire him, the fight to cast Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair’s shocking confession that got her the part.
12-year-old Linda Blair as the possessed child in The Exorcist.
William Friedkin in 1973 on the set of Exorcist, which, he recalls today, “I had to keep light. It was tough physically, but if it had got too deep, it would have been very disturbing.”
Bill Blatty, who had a cameo in the film, at New York’s Fordham University set.
Billy Blatty, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn
Writer-producer Blatty (center), discussing a scene with Jason Miller and Ellen Burstyn. Although Miller, a playwright, had not previously acted on film, he reminded Friedkin of ’40s leading man John Garfield, a reference Blatty added to the script.
Jack MacGowran (center) played a film director who meets a grim end in Exorcist.
William Friedkin, Sherry Lansing
Friedkin today with his wife Sherry Lansing. He most recently directed the 2012 crime tale Killer Joe.
Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin approaches the Georgetown home where the possession takes place as light from a window cuts through fog in an image inspired by a Magritte painting.
After Friedkin objected to initial poster designs, Warners borrowed one of the film’s most iconic shots: Von Sydow’s Father Merrin approaches the Georgetown home where the possession takes place as light from a window cuts through fog in an image inspired by a Magritte painting.
Elinore Blair, Max von Sydrow, Jason Miller
From left: Elinore Blair, Max von Sydow and Jason Miller worked on a set that was kept refrigerated so their breath would register onscreen.
Lee J. Cobb
The casting of veteran Lee J. Cobb, who played Lt. William Kinderman, reassured the studio, which feared the movie lacked name actors.
Ellen Burstyn campaigned for her part, which in Blatty’s original novel was inspired by Shirley MacLaine.
Linda Blair, William Friedkin
"'There is a woman out here named Elinore Blair with her 12-year-old daughter. Doesn’t have an appointment, but wonders if you would see her.' It wasn’t my immediate reaction to say yes, but I said OK — something like fate comes in. The moment she walked in the door, I knew she was the one. She was bright, effervescent. She had never acted before, but she wasn’t afraid or intimidated," said Friedkin on casting 12-year-old Linda Blair.