How Fox's 'The Exorcist' lured Geena Davis back to TV

Geena davis the exorcist foxPatrick Ecclesine/FOXGeena Davis plays Angela Rance on Fox’s ‘The Exorcist.’

Despite being devastated by the cancellation of her first television series, 2005’s “Commander-in-Chief,” Geena Davis is back a decade later on Fox’s “The Exorcist,” which premieres Friday at 9 p.m. 

On “Commander-in-Chief,” she played the first female president on the ABC drama, which was initially celebrated by critics and viewers alike. But production issues plagued the show and viewership began to decline.

“I had a terrible time getting over that show getting canceled, actually,” Davis, 60, told Business Insider when we sat with the actress in August. “We only had one season and it was very disappointing. I loved the show. I loved it. It was the No. 1 new show. And various elements caused it not to be renewed, but it was a fantastic experience.”

One would think that having an experience like that would sour Davis on returning to the small screen, but it was actually quite the opposite.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “So, I was missing TV and having a show tremendously for a long time and hoping something else would come up, it just took a while.”

Davis admits she’s picky about the roles she takes. She calls herself “spoiled” by having been in some Hollywood’s most successful and memorable movies early in her career, including “Thelma and Louise,” “A League of Their Own,” “The Fly,” and “Beetlejuice.”

“I got to play so many cool parts,” she said. “There’s not many female actors who got to be a baseball phenomenon and a road warrior, an amnesiac, an assassin, a pirate captain, and then the president, so I really got spoiled and felt like I don’t want to just take some boring part. And if I haven’t run out of money, I don’t need to.”

For Davis, who has been a vocal activist for women’s equality in Hollywood, choosing to play the first female president wasn’t a hard decision. But now, the actress has returned to series television for Fox’s “The Exorcist.”

“I’m a big fan of horror movies and I would have done more if really good ones had come my way,” said Davis, whose horror movie experience includes 1986’s “The Fly” and to an extent, 1988’s “Beetlejuice,” which she called a “goofy horror movie.”

Geena davis alfonso herrera fox exorcistChuck Hodes/FOXGeena Davis and Alfonso Herrera on Fox’s ‘The Exorcist.’

Davis knows that “The Exorcist” isn’t just any horror movie. It actually means something to its fans.

“I think for a large percentage of the population, ‘The Exorcist’ is the scariest movie ever and it started everything,” she told us. “It was the first truly scary movie. When I heard from my agents, ‘They want to talk to you about doing ‘The Exorcist,’ I was like, ‘The Exorcist’! [sighs] And I noticed now I tell somebody I’m doing a new show, it’s called ‘The Exorcist,’ and they’re like ‘Oohhh’ —  people always just have that reaction to the title. I think it was an exciting possibility to try.”

On Fox’s “The Exorcist,” Davis plays a mother who senses that there’s more going on with her depressed daughter than mourning the sudden death of a college friend. She confides in a local priest, played by Mexican actor Alfonso Herrera, and then it brings on the demons.

There is one thing Davis really wants viewers to know about her new show.

“I hope people will realise that it’s not a remake of the movie in any way,” she said. “It honours the movie and acknowledges it. Our story takes place in the same world that that happened 40 years ago, but it’s the current day and a different circumstance. But evil has come back, this time to Chicago. It’s very exciting.”

Watch a preview of Fox’s ‘The Exorcist” below:

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