Exclusive: Linda Blair on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist and championing animal welfare

Linda Blair - ©2023 Jill Fritzo Public Relations
Linda Blair - ©2023 Jill Fritzo Public Relations /

Growing up, I remember my parents never letting me watch The Exorcist. Being raised in a Catholic household, my parents thought we’d be accidentally inviting something into our home with those kinds of movies. As The Exorcist is considered one of the scariest horror movies ever, the chicken that I am was able to avoid watching it for all my [REDACTED] years of life.

That is, until last week. I finally sat down, got into a virtual watch party with my best friend James, who is a huge horror movie fan, and gave it a go. The hype was correct: even 50 years later The Exorcist was still the scariest and one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. I became a huge fan overnight.

But, Cam, why did you randomly decide to watch it finally?

I decided to finally watch it because I had the incredible opportunity to chat with the legendary, one and only, and wonderful Linda Blair — little Regan herself — about the movie and what she’s been up to ever since it became a worldwide phenomenon.

In our chat, we spoke about her passion for animals and her journey from aspiring veterinarian to global animal welfare advocate. Alongside her fervent dedication to our furry friends, Linda also reflected on the 50th anniversary of the movie that changed her life, sharing behind-the-scenes insights and stories that bring her iconic role to life.

Linda Blair – ©2023 Jill Fritzo Public Relations
Linda Blair – ©2023 Jill Fritzo Public Relations /

Championing animal welfare: The Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation

Linda Blair, a Connecticut native, might be a familiar face from her acting days, but her heart beats for something else entirely: the well-being of our four-legged companions. During our chat, Linda talked about her mission to shine a light on animal welfare issues globally. From the challenges faced by the South and Midwest to the struggles of California’s homeless pets, Linda declared a state of emergency for companion animals, rallying the press to join the cause.

In Linda’s own words, “If we could clean up New York City, we can clean up California. But it’s taking a little longer than people expected.” She emphasized the need for accountability and urged the public to support local rescues, charities, and shelters. Linda talked about practical initiatives by organizations like the Los Angeles Animal Care and Control.

But the fight for animals isn’t just about physical challenges; it also takes a toll on the human spirit. Linda candidly discussed the mental health struggles faced by professionals in the animal welfare field, describing it as a form of PTSD. “I have professionals that I know that are struggling with the animal welfare side,” she said. “They can conduct their human side properly, but they’re struggling with the animal stuff, and it’s making them come undone.”

The Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, started in 2004, isn’t just an animal and human welfare organization: they’re on a mission to be the guiding light in times of darkness. Their purpose is to wipe away tears, to rescue, rehabilitate, and find loving homes for those who have faced abuse, neglect, and abandonment. In the face of crises, the LBWF stands strong, extending a helping hand to both furry friends and their human counterparts. They’re educators, motivators, and champions of empowerment, and they want you, the public, to join them in making a difference in the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves.

As Linda Blair herself puts it, “We’re here to alleviate suffering, to be the voice for the voiceless.” So come, be a part of our world where compassion knows no bounds, and together let’s create ripples of change that echo through the lives of the vulnerable.

The Exorcist. Image Courtesy Shudder
The Exorcist. Image Courtesy Shudder /

The Exorcist has been scaring people for 50 years now

As we shifted gears, Linda took us on a trip down memory lane, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist. I’ll never forget her laughter when I told her she was the reason for me having finally watched the movie. She praised director William Friedkin for his visionary approach.

When discussing her role and the way she had to perform, Linda admitted, “I had asked all the same questions. So everybody asked me like, you know, so why and why this and why?” In response to these queries, she recalls that Friedkin simply laughed, saying, “Well, because that’s great.” This humorous yet cryptic response defines the essence of the movie that would go on to redefine horror as we all know it.

“[H]aving come off The French Connection and documentaries, [William Friedkin] saw the world differently,” Blair explained. “He saw this movie like a documentary, demanded the best of special effects and makeup and the actors and the writing.” It was this commitment to excellence that propelled The Exorcist into cinema history.

The cast of The Exorcist grew very close. Linda opened up about her enduring friendship with Ellen Burstyn, her onscreen mother. “I feel very lucky to have a special relationship with her. She’s an extraordinary person and actress,” Linda gushed. “She was an inspiration to me and incredible at reacting in the direction, helping me to find my way through it.” Their bond, forged during the intense filming of The Exorcist, remains a testament to the powerful connections that can emerge from collaborative artistic endeavors.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist, Linda Blair’s recollections add a personal touch to the film’s legacy. It’s a reminder that beyond the screams and scares, there are real people who poured their hearts into creating a cinematic masterpiece that continues to haunt and captivate audiences half a century later.

The biggest takeaway from my chat with Linda Blair is that she is a woman with a profound love for both her animals and the movie. Also, it makes perfect sense that her name is Linda. In Portuguese, my native language, “linda” means beautiful, and Linda Blair is, without a doubt, a beautiful soul, and we are so lucky to have someone like her in our world.

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