'The Exorcist: Believer': Ellen Burstyn Agreed To Do Sequel Only If Blumhouse Upped Her Salary And Donated It To Scholarship Program

By this point, with advance reviews, it’s clear that critics aren’t high on David Gordon Green‘s new horror reboot, “The Exorcist: Believer.” So, sorry to fans of the series, but this isn’t the long-awaited sequel that will boost its cultural cache. But if fans and audiences won’t get what they want from “The Exorcist: Believer,” did anyone on the cast and crew?

READ MORE: Jason Blum On ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ Release Date Change: “We Bowed Our Heads To Taylor Swift”

According to a new THR interview with Ellyn Burstyn, the 90-year-old actress did. Burstyn returns to the franchise for the first time since the late William Friedkin‘s 1973 original. Of course, studios wanted her to reprise her role as Chris MacNeil several times before, but the actress never acquiesced. So why did she this time? In short, Burstyn saw an opportunity to donate Blumhouse’s offer to a worthy cause and bartered her way to a higher salary to make it happen.

“You know, what happened was I’ve turned down many versions of “The Exorcist 2,” Burstyn told THR. “I’ve said no every time. This time they offered me a whole bunch of money and I still said no. And then they surprised me and they came back and said, “We doubled the offer.” I said, “OK, let me think about this.” I thought, “That’s a lot of money. Let me think about it.” 

But Burstyn wasn’t thinking about herself when Blumhouse got back to her with a higher offer. “The next thought that came to mind was: “I feel like the devil is asking my price,” she continued. “And the next thought that came to mind was, “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.”

So Burstyn essentially received no pay for “The Exorcist: Believer,” using her entire salary to set up the scholarship program at Pace. At least that means something good came out of the actress’ return to the franchise. “The Exorcist: Believer” currently sits at a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes: not as poor a score as the 10% for Renny Harlin‘s “Exorcist: The Beginning,” but still dismal. Let’s see how the film does in theaters before speculating if Blumhouse and David Gordon Green scuttle their plans for a new trilogy.

“The Exorcist: Believer” hits theaters tomorrow, October 6.