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Will Beinbrink Discusses Challenges And Influences On The Exorcism Of God - Exclusive Interview

Exorcism movies have produced some of the most chilling, terrifying scenes in all of cinema. There's something inherently spooky about watching a human being becoming possessed by a demon, with only the power of God available to expel such evil forces. Now, a new movie has joined those ranks, as "The Exorcism of God" provides a frightening story of what it means to keep sin within.

The film follows Peter Williams (Will Beinbrink), an American priest living in Mexico who has an opportunity to perform an exorcism even though there are others who believe he's not ready. After the exorcism goes awry, he carries a terrible secret inside of him for many years until the demon returns and threatens to banish all that's good within him. 

Will Beinbrink brings pathos and caring to the role of Peter Williams, more than bringing the audience into this terror-entrenched world. Looper had a chance to speak exclusively with the actor to learn more about the making of the film, such as what attracted him to the part in the first place.

Will Beinbrink talks about his favorite horror movies

What are some of your favorite horror movies of all time?

"Rosemary's Baby." "The Shining." "The Exorcist." I'd say those three.

Do you think there are any parallels between "The Exorcist" and "The Exorcism of God?"

One of [director Alejandro Hidadlgo's] favorite horror films is "The Exorcist," and he definitely took inspiration and clearly showed that inspiration in multiple shots he used and also in different sequences of actions including the vomit, with the fingers and the green peas, those types of things. He wanted to make a movie that not only was new and exciting in the genre, but that also had lots of pieces that were either throwbacks or insider information knowledge to fans of horror that would enjoy the encyclopedia of the exorcism genre.

What attracted you to take on the role of Father Peter Williams in "The Exorcism of God?"

The first encounter with this movie was that I read the script and I was blown away by the script because I had, one, never seen a movie that has that ending or that final scene where it's literally the title, and also the intense amount of sequences that Father Peter had and that he had to do that all the while dealing with his own inner conflict and battle his own inner demons. I thought that was an interesting concept.

I often feel like a lot of these leads in horror movies are just there and they fight what they need to fight, but they don't have a dark back history that ties into the story and somehow then propels the story farther forward, and I thought that was interesting.

On the production process

Did you do any special research for your role?

We had a short turnaround in terms of when we jumped onto the project and when we shoot it, and when we started shooting, so most of my time and energy and effort was put in actually preparing for the filming because I knew it was going to be slightly fast and furious. Even though Alejandro was a fastidious and detail-oriented filmmaker, I knew that the time that we had allotted for this movie was probably not enough time. I wanted my best not to be holding up the time that we did have.

I put my energy not into doing research, because I love research. I don't want to say it's the icing on the cake, because you're often [doing] it first, but it feels like I needed to work on the cake, the foundation of the character, more than I needed to work on the research of the history of exorcisms or how exorcists came to be in the church and those types of research, which I would've loved to have done. It didn't feel it had an innate and direct impact within the movie. I had to pick my battles.

What was the timeframe like for production?

We shot it in six or seven weeks, and then I had a week down in Mexico where we did (which I thought was really smart by Alejandro) exercises between different characters, where we would do relationship-building exercises to help create a sense of history and past, and that really informed our relationships on screen. Most people who see the film feel like we've known each other, that we have a past history, that we can read each other's thoughts ... including me with Joseph [Marcell], me with [Dr. Nelson actor Hector Kotsifakis], and even me with Irán [Castillo], even though there's been years between when we first saw each other to when see each other later on in the movie.

What was the most challenging scene you had to film?

Definitely the exorcism scenes for reasons of, one, I'm speaking in Spanish and then I'm speaking in English and then I'm speaking in Latin and I'm doing that all while all these fairly crazy experiences are happening, whether it's in the beginning with certain things that ... I don't want to do spoilers, but certain things in the beginning that shock me as father Peter Williams, and then the outright battling that I do in the latter scene where we're going at each other for survival.

Alejandro was great and extremely demanding, and he kept wanting more from me and María Gabriela de Faría, when we're in those scenes, to keep bringing more and more intensity. We're doing it at 3:00 in the morning and 5:00 in the morning and it's fairly exhausting ... This character's beaten down, so I'm going to push myself to be beaten down as much as possible.

Working with Joseph Marcell

What was it like working with Joseph Marcell?

Joseph's a class act. He shows up and he's kind, he's friendly, he's professional, and he is a lot of fun. He's also very fastidious in his own way. He was up on the roof on of the house we were living in together. A bunch of us were living in this house together, which I thought was also really smart by Alejandro, created a little bit of a chemistry, and we'd run into each other at breakfast or lunch, or we'd run into each other upstairs on the roof and we'd get to have unexpected time together that I feel helped us to prepare.

It's awesome, Joseph Marcell, Geoffrey, you know what I mean? Like "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." That was also really cool because ... the crew loved him, and the crew were so excited to meet him because I think they all grew up watching that show, especially in Latin America. That was one of the few major shows that was all over the world at the time that people could watch. Everyone is enamored of that show and of Geoffrey and Will Smith ... yeah, it was great. They were so excited to see him and meet him.

What actors or directors would you like to work with next?

I'd love to work with Alfonso Cuarón. I would love to work with Christopher Nolan. There's a writer/director named Nick Antosca who I would also love to work with. He does a lot of horror genre work. He created ["The Act" on Hulu ] He also is helping run ["Chucky," the SyFy/USA series]. I'd love to work with Andy again, Andy Muschietti. He's so much fun to work with and is infectious with his energy and his desire to play.

What's in store next?

If a sequel to "The Exorcism of God" were to happen, where would you like to see your character go next?

To some very dark, demonic, dangerous place. It is ripe for a sequel. There's even [a] story possibly before this movie. I'm not sure what Alejandro's intention is. I know that he does have interest in doing some type of extending the story , and what's awesome about the ending is ... [it] clearly sets up a sequel, but it also ratchets up the stakes, so that when you finish the movie, you're like, "Oh, damn. That's even more exciting to imagine her and him in this battle, and how is that going to play out?" I don't want to give things away to people that haven't seen the movie yet, but that's an exciting family drama.

Between this and "IT: Chapter Two," you're carving a niche for yourself in the horror genre. Are there any horror franchises you'd love to join?

I would love to do more Stephen King films, or even his shows. I feel like he has such a wide range of ideas and so much creativity within the horror genre that I would love to do more Stephen King projects. I feel they are filled with interesting storylines and they're creative. That's what I would say. Stephen King, baby.

Can you talk about what projects you have coming up next?

I can't. The pandemic gave a lot of us a time to really reflect on what's important in our lives and what we want to do. I became more and more focused on wanting to work with people that either I've worked with before, that I have built good relationships with, or people that I'm inspired by. There's a few projects that we have in development that I have with a few directors I've worked with before, including Alejandro and another director, Brian DeCubellis. I'm excited about the future, and I'm excited about working with people that I want to work with, not just working to work.

"The Exorcism of God" is now playing in select theaters. The film is also available on demand and for digital rental or purchase.