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GLOW's Christopher Lowell Celebrates Returning To The '80s For My Best Friend's Exorcism - Exclusive Interview

There are few movies whose titles sum up what viewers can expect from the plot better than the 1980s-set comedy-horror romp "My Best Friend's Exorcism." When best friends Abby (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen (Amiah Miller) venture into a creepy house in the woods, Gretchen has an unfortunate encounter with a demon. It's a situation that eventually forces Abby to seek someone who can help her perform an exorcism on her friend, and given her limited options, she turns to Christopher Lowell's Christian Lemon, one of a trio of brothers who perform as body builders for Christ. 

As the runt of the group, Christian rarely gets to show the breadth of what he can do, so when Abby enlists him to rid Gretchen of the demon who's taken over her body, his excitement is hilariously infectious, even as his zealous desire to prove himself causes him to make some horrifying calls in the course of the ritual. Lowell's ability to supply the humor in an otherwise terrifying scenario, makes him one of the highlights of "My Best Friend's Exorcism," and it isn't the first time the charismatic performer has made an impression. 

Lowell appeared as Veronica's (Kristen Bell) love interest Piz in the third season of the beloved series "Veronica Mars" and its 2014 follow-up movie and played Bash Howard in the dearly departed Netflix series "GLOW." In an exclusive conversation with Looper, Lowell discussed how "My Best Friend's Exorcism" gave him closure after "GLOW"'s abrupt cancellation, described the strange experience of being funny while shooting an exorcism scene, broke down his unnerving encounter with a cup of yogurt, and shared his memories of "Veronica Mars."

Returning to the '80s of 'GLOW' for 'My Best Friend's Exorcism'

You've played a character in the '80s before in "GLOW." How did it feel to go back to the '80s with "My Best Friend's Exorcism?"

It's great. "GLOW" was one of the great roles of my career. I absolutely loved that job. We were in the middle of shooting the fourth and final season when COVID shut everything down. Given the nature of the physicality of the show, there was no way that we could shoot it during the pandemic, so it got canceled, which was devastating for all of us because we really wanted to finish that ride.

In a way, when "My Best Friend's Exorcism" came along, it was  a gift for me because It gave me an opportunity to have one last ride in this insane '80s world where I could essentially do all the craziest s*** I could still think of that I didn't get to do on "GLOW," [which] I got to do here. It was a real gift. It actually gave me a lot of closure that I didn't expect.

For people who know you from "GLOW," one of the things that's fun about "My Best Friend's Exorcism" is that, even though the women on that show did the physical activity, in this case, you're the one getting up there and body building.

Yeah, exactly. That was another thing. Throughout the time we were shooting "GLOW," I would always bug Liz [Flahive] and Carly [Mensch], the creators, about, "Can we get Bash in there somehow to do some kind of crazy-ass wrestling thing?" It never really made sense. I would always watch the women on the show do these insane stunts in the ring and was always wanting to do it myself. What was nice about this is, in "My Best Friend's Exorcism," I get to do a lot of that physicality. I'm hoisting barbells above my head, and I get to be the over-the-top performer that got to be on stage on that show.

Prepping to play a body builder for Christ

Did you learn anything on "GLOW" that enhanced your onstage performance in this movie?

That's a good question. The most helpful thing was honestly watching the girls all stretch before they would get in the ring. That was a nice reminder for me, being like, "I should do that before I spend the next 12 hours throwing s*** above my head and doing all sorts of crazy physical things. It would be nice to limber up a little bit beforehand."

Beyond that, I watched a lot of videos of these guys, the body builders for Christ, which was a thing throughout the '80s. It would be these guys who would fall on the power of Christ and then be able to take a sledge hammer to a stack of concrete on their chest while Van Halen music's playing and flames are going off. I went down a rabbit hole watching these videos. That was the prep that I had — that, and then watching horror films, which was a fun but also unnerving ride because horror movies scare the hell out of me. I'm a total wuss.

What I love about the horror-comedy subgenre is you still get all the frights and scares and gore and violence and whatever the hell else, but you have these moments of levity throughout that give you an opportunity to take a deep breath and come back to Earth before you get slung up into the air again.

Filming 'My Best Friend's Exorcism''s climactic scene

This movie's has that mix of comedy and horror, and you are supplying a lot of the...

Horror, right? The horror. When I watch it, I'm like, "That's the scariest thing I've ever seen." Me in that mullet is truly frightening.

It is pretty terrifying. You're in that exorcism scene that's the climax of the film.

I was so focused on the comedy of it all, because I'm the comic relief in the film, and then we were going to shoot the exorcism scene itself, and it was like, "This is scary as hell. What do you want me to do? Throw salt in her eyeballs?" The stuff I'm having to do was so unnerving. Thankfully, because Amiah and Elsie are such pros and also such great human beings, we were able to keep it light and fun throughout. It's insane. I do an actual exorcism. All the craz[iness] that Max von Sydow and Linda Blair go through in "The Exorcist," we are doing those same things. It's wild.

Working with Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller

It seemed like such an intense scene, even though you provide a lot of the comic relief. What was it like working with Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller during those scenes?

It's a weird thing. A day at work is like, "All right. Chris, you're going to stick the funnel in her mouth, and you got to hold her jaw, because she's going to be freaking out, and you're going to pour all the gasoline in it." I'm looking at this sweet endearing 16-year-old girl who's tied to a bed, being like, "You're okay with this?" She's like, "Yeah, let's get going. I'm ready to work."

It was wild. It speaks to the professionalism of both these young women that, for them, it was another day at the office. Elsie, I've been a huge fan of since I saw "Eighth Grade." She is a powerhouse talent, and so is Amiah, and they were a blast to work with. I kept forgetting [how young they are]. 

I remember the first day of rehearsals, early in 2021, so vaccines were still just becoming available. Our first day of rehearsal, I had just gotten my second dose, and Elsie had just gotten hers, and I remember Amiah was like, "I haven't gotten mine." I was like, "What do you mean you haven't gotten yours?" And she's like, "I'm not old enough yet to get it." It was like, "Oh my God. I'm, first of all, an old man, and I'm working with literal children, still." 

I'd completely forgotten how young they were because as actors, they're both pros and had a sense of professionalism on set. It was amazing. It felt like working with two veteran actors. I was very blessed to have them as co-stars.

A horrifying cup of yogurt

At one point, your character gets very invested in finishing a cup of frozen yogurt. It's horrifying, but in a different way than the rest of the movie.

That might be the scariest part of the film. That was entirely Damon [Thomas], our director. He was like, "I want to open the scene with you eating some yogurt." I was like, "All right. Give me the yogurt." He's like, "All right, but I want you to eat the entire thing." I was like, "Okay." I'm eating it, being like, "Are we still rolling on this?" Then I do it, and then he's like, "No, no, no, no. I want you to finish every last drip of yogurt." 

That's what I did, and the whole time I'm doing this, I'm like, "There's no way this is going to end up in the film." It's 25 seconds of me in a mullet and a tracksuit, eating disgusting yogurt. That's our way in, and it's properly, effectively unnerving. It tells you a lot about how strange this person is.

Reminiscing about 'Veronica Mars'

I can't let you go without asking about "Veronica Mars." You were introduced on the show in the third season and the 2014 movie. What was that experience like for you?

I remember when I got the job, it was one of my first jobs, and I remember [creator and showrunner] Rob Thomas being like, "Listen." He sat me down after I got cast. He was like, "Everybody is going to hate your character, but we're hoping that because you're a nice enough guy that it'll balance itself out." I went into it with this understanding that I was going to be hated for breaking up the big romance of the show.

Having said that, it was one of the most welcome work environments I've ever been a part of. Kristen [Bell]'s one of my closest friends and Ryan Hansen, everybody. It was the greatest group of people. Leaving the show, whenever you leave a job, it's bittersweet because you think it's the last time you're going to work with these people, so when we got to do the film, it felt like borrowed time. It felt like something we weren't supposed to have that we were able to get. We all really savored the flavor every day on the film. It was such a blast to work with those people again. I love them.

"My Best Friend's Exorcism" is available on Prime Video.

This interview has been edited for clarity.