The Exorcist: Believer director talks *that* wild surprise ending

The Exorcist: Believer
(Image credit: Universal/Blumhouse)

Warning: Massive spoilers for The Exorcist: Believer ahead!

The Exorcist: Believer serves as a direct sequel to William Friedkin's original 1973 film, with viewers getting a look at Chris MacNeil's life some 50 years after her daughter was possessed. Her and Regan no longer speak, and the demon from all those years ago repeatedly tells her that her daughter is dead. In a surprise twist at the end, however, we learn that this is far from the truth.

In the film's final moments, Regan herself walks into her mother's hospital room and takes her hand – reuniting Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn on set for the first time in 50 years. The touching moment may feel fan service-y, as some of us have been dying to see Chris and Regan MacNeil in the same room again, but it's the moment of levity that the film – which is relentlessly emotional and devastating – so badly needs.

Director David Gordon Green, responsible for Jamie Lee Curtis’s return to the Halloween franchise, sat down with GamesRadar+ to talk about the surprise scene and what went into bringing Blair back.

"It was amazing. 95% of the crew didn't even know it was gonna happen," Green explains. "[Linda Blair] wasn't on the call sheet that day, and she had been hired as a kind of an advisor, consultant for the kids. And then as I got her trust and told her what we were doing, and she kind of became aware of the project and our intentions, we convinced her to do it. 

The Exorcist: Believer

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

"She hadn't seen Ellen in many, many years. I wanted to film that reunion. So, we blindfolded Ellen and, on a note, we invited Linda in. And so that was one take and it was magic."

The Exorcist, wildly controversial at the time in both its subject matter and filming methods, left both Blair and Burstyn with permanent injuries and negative media attention (though the film was nominated for 10 Oscars) – which Blair, just 14 at the time of release, got the brunt of. Blair would go on to appear in The Exorcist 2, and parody her role in the horror-comedy Repossessed, but would distance herself from the franchise as a whole. The same goes for Burstyn, who hasn't been affiliated with the franchise since the very first installment.

"Half the crew [cried]. I remember looking around and the boom operator who didn't know what was gonna happen or our focus puller was just jaw-on-the-floor because very few of us knew what we coordinated for that moment. It was amazing."

There's a possibility that this special moment is setting us up for The Exorcist: Deceiver, which is due out in 2024. Burstyn has already confirmed that she will be back once more – so we'll be crossing our fingers that Blair comes with her.

The Exorcist: Believer is out in theaters now. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2023 and beyond, or, skip right to the good stuff with our list of movie release dates.

Lauren Milici
Senior Writer, Tv & Film

Lauren Milici is a Senior Entertainment Writer for GamesRadar+ currently based in the Midwest. She previously reported on breaking news for The Independent's Indy100 and created TV and film listicles for Ranker. Her work has been published in Fandom, Nerdist, Paste Magazine, Vulture, PopSugar, Fangoria, and more.