Easily the biggest surprise of 2016 for me has been Fox’s stellar new series The Exorcist, which continues to raise the bar for genre storytelling on television with every single episode. Last night, the first season’s ninth episode aired and is leading fans towards an epic finale that airs next Friday.
In advance of a special screening of episode 9 at the 20th Century Fox Studio, Daily Dead had the chance to speak briefly with the show’s star, Geena Davis, during a press event beforehand, where she discussed her thoughts on the evolution of her character, teased what’s to come in the season finale of The Exorcist, and more.
**SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched the first season of The Exorcist, you definitely should NOT read on, as there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. For those of you caught up with The Exorcist through Episode 8, you should be just fine.**
So at what point did you find out that your character was going in this direction?
Geena Davis: I've been trying to remember if I knew this before I signed on. I think I did. I think I knew upfront who I was going to turn out to be, and that more likely than not, I was going to end up getting re-possessed, which helped convince me to take on the part. I just thought, "That's going to be so much fun." And as it turns out, it's fun to be possessed. In episode 10, I get to do a lot of cool stuff, even more than you’ll see tonight. It's wonderful. It's been really great fun for me.
You've got an amazing scene with Sharon Gless in the 8th episode, and I was wondering if you could discuss how it was shooting that with her?
Geena Davis: It was cool. It was a little scary because I was worried she was going to fall down the stairs because she was right on the edge of the actual stairs. I was a little concerned about that. I sort of kept ahold of her a little bit longer than necessary to make sure she wasn't going to just go sailing down. That would've been bad. We would've had it on film, but it would've been bad.
You said you knew the reveal at the very beginning, before signing on, that you were actually Regan. Did the other cast members know, or was that something that was kept a secret until it was revealed in that episode’s script?
Geena Davis: They didn't know. I'm pretty sure they didn't know until that reveal. It was pretty cool.
What kind of experience is that like then, knowing that this is where your character's going, and did you use that to inform your character throughout those earlier scenes in the series?
Geena Davis: Yeah. We were constantly talking about what can we do, where if you look at it later, you'll say, "Ah-ha," but doesn't give it away initially, because you don't want to. We were constantly worried about, "Does that give it away? Does that give it away? Wait a minute." Even in the speech, the long speech where I finally reveal that I'm Regan with Father Tomas, I didn't want to give it away too early in the speech. It had to come at the end, but hinty-hints, so that you could go back and say, "Ah, now I get it. Now I get it." Kind of like The Sixth Sense.
Is there an added pressure that comes with playing a role that is so iconic in the world of horror, and was that something you felt going into the show?
Geena Davis: Yeah, there really was, because we knew we had to get it right. I think we earned it, though, because we were very respectful of the movie, conscious of the movie, and we were never trying to remake it. It was definitely all about the fact that we revere this movie, and we're doing something different, but it's also an homage to the movie. There were all kinds of little hints about the movie in it, like in the pilot when Tubular Bells starts playing at the end. I always get chills just talking about it. It seemed like the reaction to people finding out that I was Regan was very positive from the fans, which feels great. I think the reaction was that they were both stunned but very positive about it.
With the finale coming up, are we going to see your story, which has been this more intimate story about a family in crisis, cross over and intersect with the larger conspiracy at play?
Geena Davis: Oh, yes. That's the other equally important story here, this plotted-out assassination of the Pope in order to throw the world into chaos. So many more priests being possessed by demons, where it's like evil rising with Chicago as the central source of that. That's all going to be addressed, what these priests can possibly do to deal with this possibly world-changing event.