Credit: Chuck Hodes/FOX; Phil Bray

If you watch the original Exorcist film, you might be surprised how little actual exorcising there is, but once Fathers Karras and Merrin enter the room, almost everything that follows is iconic. “The power of Christ compels you” is an indelible part of the film’s place in our cultural memory, and it posed a bit of a challenge for Jeremy Slater, the creator the TV series based on the film, the second episode of which airs tonight.


The answer came from an unexpected place: Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master, in particular the intense interview sequence between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.

The scene is a searing examination of Phoenix’s character’s inner-most fears and insecurities on the part of Hoffman’s, possibly to exploit. It’s a surprising source of inspiration, but once you think about it, the similarities are easy to see. “We really used that scene as our jumping off point for what an exorcism should look like,” Slater said. “This is what it should feel like. It should be less about chanting words and going through ritual, and it should be more about how do you draw the demon out psychologically and engage it in battle.”

The Exorcist

Fox’s 2016 TV series stars Geena Davis.

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