Linda Blair Did Not Anticipate ‘The Exorcist’ Becoming So Successful Yet Controversial

The Exorcist Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, 1973
Everett Collection

Linda Blair was just 14 years old when she starred as Regan MacNeil, the possessed teen in the 1973 film The Exorcist. At the time, Blair was just excited to get a movie role at such a young age and never anticipated that the film would do so well in theaters and continue to be popular five decades later.

Today the film celebrates its 50th anniversary (December 26) and Blair, now 64, is opening up about starring in the iconic horror movie. She said, “For me, it was so not Hollywood. I had no idea. Mom and I just thought, ‘Oh, you know, your project, if it gets a little airing, the commercial runs,’ and that wasn’t the case. The case was it became an international controversial sensation around the world.”

The Exorcist Linda Blair 1973

Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Although it became her most well-known role, it wasn’t easy to film. She revealed that the cold temperatures on set were the worst part of filming. She explained, “The temperature, which people forget because we didn’t have all of the incredible magic that we now have with filmmaking. So it was 17 below in the morning, and then it was zero when we were filming and very uncomfortable and the makeup was such cutting edge, like pieces are glued on my face and the contacts were very uncomfortable.”

The Exorcist Linda Blair 1973

Everett Collection

She added that she had a hard time with curse words because she was raised not to use that kind of language. Blair said that director William Friedkin was behind all of the “nasty language” and would tell her the dialogue in secret the night before they filmed that scene and she almost didn’t say certain things. These days, she is proud of the film and even made a cameo in the new film in the franchise The Exorcist: Believer.

Landfill Linda Blair 2023

Indican Pictures/Everett Collection

She said of the new film, “I made sure that they took care of the girls, got them psychologists and religious leaders and anything that they may need to ask questions. The girls were fantastic. They were so appreciative of everything I did. And even the adults had questions that they were able to ask and have some comfort.” Have you seen the new movie yet? What are your thoughts?

HALLOWEEN Collector's Issue
Want More?

HALLOWEEN Collector's Issue

October 2021

This super-sized issue looks at the horror franchise that started them all, HALLOWEEN

Buy This Issue