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Why Ellen Burstyn Finally Decided To Return For An Exorcist Sequel

In the long history of the horror movie, a few titles stand head and shoulders above all others. Classics like "Halloween," "Friday the 13th," "Carrie," and more have attained such a status over the years, making them silver screen favorites across generations. 1973's "The Exorcist" from director William Friedkin is no different thanks to a variety of factors. The cast put out strong performances, the writing kept audiences engaged, and the frights were plentiful, amounting to an overall exceptional yet terrifying cinematic experience that continues to haunt viewers all these years later.

While most recognize the original tale of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), her demonic possession, and those tasked with saving her life from supernatural forces, not everyone is so well-acquainted with its continuations. In the years since the trend-setting horror flick hit scared moviegoers to the bone, a bunch of sequels and prequels have come to pass — some finding far more success at carrying on the "Exorcist" legacy than others. A new one is due to arrive in 2023, and when it does, it will include one of the most prominent names in the franchise: the great Ellen Burstyn.

To date, Burstyn has only appeared in the first "Exorcist" film as Regan's mother, Chris, opting to pass on all future sequels and prequels. That finally changed with the 2023 production, and here's why.

Burstyn was able to negotiate a special deal this time around

Ellen Burstyn spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on August 26, 2022, and in doing so, she shed some light on why she finally decided to join an "Exorcist" sequel after turning down so many over the years. According to her, in terms of the money, the initial offer was quite generous but no different than those she'd passed on time and time again. However, on this occasion, she successfully sweetened the deal. "'My price is a scholarship program for talented students at our master's degree program at Pace University. That's my price.' So I then went back and upped their up and ended up getting what I want. And I've got a scholarship program for young actors," she said.

Aside from the involvement of Burstyn and a handful of other actors, little is known about director David Gordon Green's upcoming "Exorcist" movie. As a direct sequel to the 1973 original, one would think that the face of it herself, Linda Blair, would be involved in some way. As it turns out, though, that's not the case. In a July 2021 tweet, Blair confirmed that no one has approached her about taking part in any form. "I wish all those involved the best and I appreciate the loyalty and passion the fans have for 'The Exorcist' and my character," she wrote, so for those hoping to see Regan MacNeil return in the 2023 feature, don't get your hopes up.

Though it remains to be seen if Linda Blair's status for the new "Exorcist" sequel will change, at least Ellen Burstyn will return five decades after her first and only Chris MacNeil performance. The fact that she could score a sweet deal for Pace University students makes this even better.