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David Gordon Green Talks About Keeping The Exorcist: Believer Grounded | Exclusive 

After five decades since The Exorcist comes The Exorcist: Believer with double the trouble. The filmmaker David Gordon Green is behind the story as a co-writer and the director that brings back a pinnacle of the original with Ellen Burstyn.  

The Exorcist: Believer | Official Trailer

The Synopsis 

Exactly 50 years ago this fall, the most terrifying horror film in history landed on screens, shocking audiences around the world. A new chapter begins. From Blumhouse and director David Gordon Green, who shattered the status quo with their resurrection of the Halloween franchise. Since the death of his pregnant wife in a Haitian earthquake 12 years ago, Victor Fielding (Tony winner and Oscar® nominee Leslie Odom, Jr.; One Night in Miami, Hamilton) has raised their daughter, Angela (Lidya Jewett, “Good Girls”) on his own. 

But when Angela and her friend Katherine (newcomer Olivia Marcum), disappear in the woods, only to return three days later with no memory of what happened to them, it unleashes a chain of events that will force Victor to confront the nadir of evil and, in his terror and desperation, seek out the only person alive who has witnessed anything like it before: Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn, “The Exorcist”).

Director David Gordon Green on the set of The Exorcist: Believer.

A week ago I connected with the co-writer and director David Gordon Green to discuss what would be seen for the release of The Exorcist: Believer trailer. He discussed the work in maintaining the heart of the 1973 The Exorcist and bringing back Ellen Burstyn to the franchise. Green also mentions being involved in the trailer, what he hopes the fans take away from the upcoming film and more!

Nancy Tapia: Hi. Good morning. 

David Gordon Green: Hi. 

Nancy Tapia: Hi. How’s it going? 

David Gordon Green: Great. Where in the world are you? 

Nancy Tapia: I’m in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks. 

David Gordon Green:  All right, I’m in New York City. 

Nancy Tapia: Ah, I see you’re in the city.

David Gordon Green: Yeah, it’s a nice day out there. I’m looking out at what I’m missing, a lot of traffic and honking of horns  and excitement. 

Nancy Tapia: Oh, you’re better off where you’re at, so we can discuss The Exorcist: Believer

David Gordon Green:  All right. 

Nancy Tapia: I will make sure to keep it just about the trailer, which is really hard. Because just by watching it, it completely took me back to the original. I did revisit The Exorcist over the weekend and I’m just so thrilled from the trailer. I see it’s kept a lot of the original Exorcism character. Including the gals features, which I appreciate. It brings back a lot of that same feel. 

David Gordon Green: That’s some of the idea. 

Nancy Tapia: It must have been really challenging for you to maintain that heart. 

David Gordon Green: Well, and a lot of what we do and just our process is to respect the work of the practical effects that were  done in 1973, Dick Smith’s incredible makeup work. We had Christopher Nelson study that, and he did a  great job at trying to be the same but different. Take some similar approaches. 

A lot of our, if not all of our, most of our effects are all done in camera with some minor digital  augmentation. But for the most part, we’re trying to keep it really grounded and not have it turn into a  big computer-generated special effects, supernatural movie, trying to keep it grounded in terms of our  narrative, our characters, the storyline, and then the execution as well. 

Nancy Tapia: Then of course, you’re bringing back Ellen Burstyn. We get to see her, and how in the trailer transitions to today’s “Chris McNeil”. 

David Gordon Green: Well, Ellen is just a performer that I always admired, and now she’s a collaborator that I just adore. It’s  one thing to be able to invite, a legacy character back into a franchise that they’re very well  known as being a part of. But for this movie, to have Ellen truly as, not just an inspiration of what to write, but a collaborator and full of ideas. Her legacy of the last 50 years has been so profound and meaningful, and for her to collaborate with us  on this and be a joy to work with on set, and then now even just to be a friend. I can go drink tea at her  house down the street, which is really amazing because she has a lot to offer, obviously, as a creative person.

Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom, Jr.) in The Exorcist: Believer, directed by David Gordon Green.

But the character that we were designing is in very similar ways, someone that’s evolved over the last 50  years based on the events in Georgetown in a way that rhymes with the way that Ellen’s career and  personal life have evolved over the last 50 years since the film was released. So, we were able to be able  to feed off the authenticity a little bit or a lot and inspire each other, and a real privilege for a filmmaker  like me to be able to work with a profound talent like her. 

Nancy Tapia: How was it to bring her on board? 

David Gordon Green: It was amazing to bring her on board. Again, I just think her insights are invaluable. She’s an inspiring  creative person that had a lot of ideas of what we could do with her character and brings an on  authenticity and honesty to everything she does. She would push me, she would drive me, she would  inspire me. It was amazing. 

We would do rehearsals, and I got so excited that I ended up just inviting our sound mixer to come to  rehearsals so that I could have, for my selfish nature, I wanted an archive of the conversations that I  would have with her. So, I have these wonderful audio recordings of just her and I talking in tangent  sometimes about the characters, sometimes about the world, sometimes about her career. I know she’s written her autobiography, otherwise I would raise my hand and say, I would like to write  her biography book. 

Nancy Tapia: Well, you could do a series of her biography. 

David Gordon Green: I could or just an epic documentary about her life, because it’s pretty extraordinary. She’s really funny  too, and she’s not known for her comedy, but she cracks me up. So, it’s really fun when you find  someone that… You never know when you meet some of these iconic Hollywood figures. You never  know who’s going to be cranky and annoying or past their prime. She’s 90 years old and still a spitfire. 

Nancy Tapia: Now we get to see double exorcism in this film. We waited so long, but that’s because we get double the trouble. 

David Gordon Green: Haha…Double trouble, that’s the tagline of the movie. It was always from the original idea of what we  wanted to approach thematically with this movie. I wanted to have multiple religious perspectives, not  just a Catholic power, Christ-compels-you type of Roman rite ritual. I wanted to open it up to  otherworldly perspectives, including skepticism and atheism and conversations that I think are very  valuable, if not essential in today’s culture. 

Being able to open that up, I was thinking, well, how do you get to infuse all these religious spiritual  elements into the movie? Then as I was doing my research on all of these things, so many of these  things, I stumbled upon the idea of synchronized possession, and how, not very often, but on occasion  there will be even one demon that is possessing multiple physical bodies. 

Then that just triggered so many ideas for me, and then putting it in the intimacy of a household with  two girls that are friends but have very different upbringings, very different philosophies within their  household, became a real opportunity for our story. 

Nancy Tapia: In the trailer “Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) says, “Every culture, every religion, they all have different methods and we take all of  them.” So, that means we really get to see the various methods applied in this film? 

David Gordon Green: That’s right, and if you ask anybody about possession, you’ll get a different answer. Someone can say,  “Oh, it’s the power of the mind,” or “It’s a medical ailment,” or “It’s schizophrenia,” Or it’s so many  issues you could point to. 

Then if you are a person of a religious background, you might say, “Well, here’s what I know and what  I’ve seen in movies and what I’ve read in books or heard in my spiritual texts.” Then our story kind of  evolves through the conflict and conversations of this variety of philosophies that people have. 

Nancy Tapia: In the trailer we also see Jennifer Nettles (“Harriet”) who plays a mother. I love her, who is not a fan of her from Sugarland and her wonderful lyrics. 

David Gordon Green: Well, so Jennifer is an actress I became friends with. I work on this series, The Righteous Gemstones,  that she’s been on for the last three seasons, and so we became good friends. I wrote this role with her

in mind and was really excited and honored that she would play with us, but a really special, unique  talent. I love her. 

Nancy Tapia: What do you hope the original fans of The Exorcism take away from watching The Exorcist: Believer

David Gordon Green: That’s a good question. I think my hope is that it inspires conversation. And again, I think everybody’s background and interpretation is going to be different. Right now in the editing room, we’re playing with  nuances of ambiguity and what we want to say overtly and literally, and what we want to pull back and  let the audience try to interpret for themselves, and finding what those lines are that invite everybody  to the conversation. 

We want to make sure that we’re making a movie that is challenging in a lot of ways, provocative in a lot  of ways, but invites a mass audience. Because that’s one of the greatest things for me as a filmmaker, is  to be able to sit back with a crowd and for me to take the ride of something that I’ve created. 

But once you unleash it on an audience, especially something like this that triggers so many personal  and primal intuitions from people with a variety of spiritual and academic backgrounds, I’m just excited  to take the ride. 

Nancy Tapia: You mentioned editing, were you involved in the editing of the trailer that will be released? 

David Gordon Green: I am involved in the editing of the trailer. Those are always funny conversations because it’s finding that  nuance too, of what’s a spoiler, what’s going to tell too much, what’s provocative and alluring and get  everybody in there. So, I was not cutting it myself because I was busy cutting the film, but very involved,  so I hope you liked it. Did you like it? 

Nancy Tapia: I did, and I feel like in a way I get a sense of two in one film, phase based on the trailer. 

David Gordon Green: Yeah, that’s not inappropriate. I think that’s okay. 

Nancy Tapia: I’m thrilled. I watched it five times and I was like… 

David Gordon Green: Oh, wow. 

Nancy Tapia: I watched it five times for the little period they gave me. 

David Gordon Green: That’s very cool, all right. I appreciate it. 

Nancy Tapia: It was great. 

David Gordon Green: Good to get feedback, because in a week, I’ll be hearing about it on the internet, so it’s nice to just get a  little preview of how people are interpreting things. It’s a movie I’m really proud of and passionate  about, and so we’ll see. Once you put it out there, it’s out there, and your head’s on a platter, but we’ll  see how it goes. 

Nancy Tapia: Then people are going to have enough time to watch the original Exorcist just like I did.

David Gordon Green: I think that’s wonderful too. I just think that’s such an opportunity for people to revisit something and put it in context of this contemporary conversation. And to understand that when you say it’s one of the scariest movies ever made, it’s not one of the scariest movies ever made the scary movies that are

coming out today. It’s a different genetic makeup. I think it’s really helpful to be able to distinguish that when things that are trying to be a little bit more unnerving than just obvious and grotesque. 

Nancy Tapia: Exactly. Well, thank you so much for your time, David. I really appreciate it, and I can’t wait to see the  movie. I have to wait a very long time now, haha… 

David Gordon Green: Hahaha..not too long. We’re wrapping it up here in the edit room. We’ll figure it out soon. 

Nancy Tapia: Sounds good. Thank you again for your time and congratulations. 

David Gordon Green: All right. Thanks, Nancy. Bye. 

Nancy Tapia: Bye-Bye

Don’t miss The Exorcist: Believer will be in theaters October 13, 2023.

Source: LRMExclusive, Universal Pictures 


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