Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

William Friedkin Talks Losing Perspective, Meeting Devil-Worshipers Shooting 'The Exorcist' & More

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 30, 2013 at 12:27PM

There are few cinematic ranconteurs as engaging as William Friedkin. Candid and filled with a career's worth of stories from the perspective of a filmmaker who has seen the industry change from the freewheeling '70s to the belt-tightening, tentpole focus of today, Friedkin's perspective is unique. And with his new memoir “The Friedkin Connection,” he's put down a lifetime of wisdom into one must read volume, but of course, there's always more and the director recently chatted with The New York Times and shared a few more fascinating morsels, reflecting on his own ego, stories from shooting "The French Connection," "The Exorcist" and more.
0
William Friedkin

There are few cinematic ranconteurs as engaging as William Friedkin. Candid and filled with a career's worth of stories from the perspective of a filmmaker who has seen the industry change from the freewheeling '70s to the belt-tightening, tentpole focus of today, Friedkin's perspective is unique. And with his new memoir “The Friedkin Connection,” he's put down a lifetime of wisdom into one must-read volume, but of course, there's always more, and the director recently chatted with The New York Times and shared a few more fascinating morsels, reflecting on his own ego, stories from shooting "The French Connection," "The Exorcist," and more.

While for most, winning an Oscar means a step up into bigger and better projects, Friedkin freely admits it went to his head. "I had no perspective back then. After I won the Oscar, I thought I was bulletproof. And I wasn’t. But I thought I was. You often pay dearly when hubris sets in. I thought, well, I have the formula now. I really know how to reach audiences," he said, even while revealing that when it came to "The French Connection," he didn't realize what he had until after the shoot.

"I had a whole different idea of casting. I cast a guy to play Frog 1, the drug dealer – he wasn’t the guy I intended! My casting director cast Fernando Rey by mistake. Gene Hackman wasn’t even on my list of choices. But I had to make the film with him because he was the last man standing," Friedkin shared. "Everyone else either turned it down or, as when I auditioned Jimmy Breslin, he couldn’t do it. I had to struggle with Hackman, and it was only after I had finished the editing and saw that it was working, he obviously is the force that ignites that picture."

However, if anything, Friedkin is one of the prime examples of taking the unexpected and making it into something special (it says something that decades later, the S&M world flick "Cruising" is still discussed at length). And even when he found himself in wild situations, Friedkin leaves with an anecdote to tell -- such as meeting devil-worshipers in Iraq while shooting "The Exorcist." "They’re a Muslim sect, and their basic belief is that God rules everything in heaven, but the devil rules on earth. So they worship the devil. They had no idea what the hell I was doing there. They had heard that this crazy American was taking raw meat to the statue of the demon Pazuzu," he said. "And when I told them it was for a movie, and we had hoped to attract wild dogs and vultures, they were disappointed. And the people from the Baathist party, my handlers, said, 'Don’t go.  It’s dangerous. We have no control over that.' I had this wonderful translator who was also my guide, and he took me there. It was a great experience."

But today, the Hollywood Friedkin once knew is no more. "All these films about the Avengers and the Transformers, video games and comic books, that’s what, for the most part, Hollywood cinema has become," he says. But luckily, his movies have stood well against the sands of time, and if you're in New York City a retrospective of his work -- including a newly restored "Sorcerer" -- plays at BAM starting on May 7th.

This article is related to: William Friedkin, The Exorcist


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates