A very familiar face has returned to be a part of the reboot of the horror classic The Exorcist. The new film, helmed by David Gordon Green, is scheduled to hit theater screens on October 13, 2023. Just in time for Halloween. In an interview given to Daily Blast Live and unearthed from three months ago, when asked about the notorious strange occurrences on the set of the original movie, actress Ellen Burstyn revealed in passing that she had already shot the new version.
The extent to which Burstyn is participating is not known, but this will mark the first time the 89-year-old Oscar winner has appeared in The Exorcist franchise since the original film. In the 1973 movie, Burstyn starred as Chris McNeil, an actress who is shooting a film at Georgetown University but is pulled away from her work when her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) starts to show signs of demonic possession. After going to every doctor possible, she turns to skeptical priest Father Karras (Jason Miller) and veteran exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) for help.
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In the new film, Chris McNeil is sought out by a new beleaguered parent (Leslie Odom Jr.) whose child has recently become possessed. Although the movie is based on the 1971 book by William Blatty, it was loosely inspired by the chilling story of a young boy, “Robbie” or “Roland Doe” from Cottage City, Maryland. In Mary 1949, newspapers reported that a 14-year-old was possessed by something sinister and that priests performed an exorcism on him. After asking for a Ouija board for his birthday, his Aunt Harriet gave him one as a gift. After she died, the boy began experiencing abnormal activities around the house: rattling on the walls, odd noises, and flying objects.
Except for a few close friends and Jesuits who knew the priests who performed the exorcism, not many people knew the real identity of the boy. Over 75 years later, experts believe the boy is Ronald Hunkeler, a former NASA engineer who helped with the 1969 moon landing. Hunkeler had a very successful career at NASA and helped patent the technology to make space shuttle panels resistant to extreme heat for the Apollo missions of the 1960s.According to his partner, Hunkeler always worried that his coworkers would learn he was the inspiration for The Exorcist.
Huenkeler retired from NASA in 2001 and died of a stroke at his home in Marriottsville, Maryland just one month shy of his 86th birthday in 2020.