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'Exorcist' star Linda Blair had 'no idea' movie would be a cult classic
December 26 2023, 08:00

Starring in "The Exorcist" at 14 years old was not easy for Linda Blair, and she had "no idea" the movie would turn into a cult classic over the last five decades.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Blair explained how the 1973 film became an "international controversial sensation" as the movie approaches its 50th anniversary on Dec. 26. 

"For me, it was so not Hollywood. I had no idea," Blair said of the film. "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."

Blair explained that Warner Bros. attempted to send her on an international press tour, so the world could see that she was really just a young girl – not the demon-possessed Regan MacNeil they saw on their screens.


"It's a very intense movie. My hope is that people would realize it's about good and evil, and that is playing out right now on the planet with the war in Israel, and we can do better. We can absolutely do better," she explained. 

WATCH: 'Exorcist' star Linda Blair had 'no idea' film would become a cult classic

There are several memories that stick out in Blair's mind about her time filming "Exorcist," but the freezing cold temperatures on set is something she said she will never forget.

"The temperature, which people forget because we didn't have all of the incredible magic that we now have with filmmaking," Blair began. "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."


Another difficult aspect of filming for a 14-year-old Blair was the "crass language" that her character was required to recite in the film.

WATCH: 'Exorcist' actress Linda Blair shares what she remembers most from the movie

"[Director] Billy Friedkin rewrote a lot of the script, my dialogue, and would tell me in secret the night before. I'd say, 'Well, I can't say that,' and he'd say, ‘No, no, you can.’ So he's the culprit behind all that nasty language and I had to do it," Blair claimed, adding, "That was hard for me because I wasn't raised to be like that."

Fast-forward to today – and decades since its release – Blair now says "The Exorcist" is an "amazing movie" that she is "proud of."

"Of course, anybody can reflect back on things that are painful to them and uncomfortable memories, but you have to try to compartmentalize and move forward," Blair said. 

"Mine is to use that. To find positive and ask people if we can't be better humans to each other and find the goodness and get rid of all the evil that's on the planet right now, we can do better and that's with animal welfare. It's with conservation. It's with human rights and welfare. Just being compassionate to all and others."


WATCH: 'Exorcist' star Linda Blair talks cameo appearance in 'The Exorcist: Believer'

Blair made a cameo appearance in "The Exorcist: Believer" that was released earlier this year. 

"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," Blair said of the women in the movie. "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."

The actress told Fox News Digital that she was always a part of the film as an advisor and could not commit to starring in the film due to the time commitment the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation requires.

The Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation is an animal and human welfare organization that was launched in 2003. According to the foundation's website, its mission is to "alleviate suffering, while rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming abused, neglected and abandoned animals. We aid in crisis situations, while educating, encouraging and empowering the public to make a difference in the lives of those whom have no voice."


When it got to a certain point in the filming process, the film's producers asked Blair to make a cameo appearance. She noted that everything with her foundation was taken care of – on behalf of the movie – and she was able to step away, fly to the set in secret and surprise the rest of the cast.

"You should have seen everybody's faces as they realized it was me," Blair said. "I walked on the set, and they said, ‘Roll, sound and action.’ Ellen [Burstyn] and I just did our magic for everybody and I hope everybody really appreciated that."

Blair first appeared in "The Exorcist" in 1973 before reprising her role as Regan MacNeil in the sequel, "Exorcist II: The Heretic" in 1977.