Why Ellen Burstyn Finally Returned For An Exorcist Sequel

One of the biggest coups in recent memory is David Gordon Green getting Ellen Burstyn back for his new trilogy of "Exorcist" films. Burstyn was central to the first movie, playing the distraught mother of young Regan (Linda Blair), a poor girl with a little bit of a demon problem. There have been, by my count, four sequels and/or prequels and one surprisingly good TV show that have spun off from that first hugely successful film, but exactly zero of them got Burstyn to return.

So, what changed? Why is she coming back for Green's new trilogy? Was she bedazzled by a brilliant and intricate pitch from Green and his crew? Did she weigh the legacy of one of the most iconic horror movies of all time and come to the conclusion she wanted to honor that by making a triumphant return as Chris MacNeil? Nope. They gave her a ton of money. Like, backed the Brinks truck up kind of money.

Burstyn asked for a ton of money, but it's for a good cause

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed the 89-year-old actress who was doing press to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Actors Studio, and when the topic of her return to the world of "The Exorcist" came up she was very transparent about her motivations. Yes, it's about money, but not in a greedy way. "I've turned down many versions of 'The Exorcist 2,'" Burstyn said. "I've said no every time. This time they offered me a whole bunch of money and I still said no." But that wasn't the end of the discussion. Burstyn continued, explaining: 

"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.' The next thought that came to mind was: 'I feel like the devil is asking my price.' 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."

She went on to say that they'd already shot her scenes, but she had such a good time that she agreed to come back if they wanted to film more stuff with her. Apparently, Green took her up on the offer and she's going back to set for four extra days of filming this coming November.