When it comes to horror films revolving around exorcisms, it’s tough not to immediately think of William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece THE EXORCIST. But when you cast Bill Moseley as your exorcist? Well, you’ve got our attention!
Now available on demand, in digital HD and on DVD is THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT, the new film from director Scott B. Hansen, and once I saw the trailer (embedded below for your convenience), I knew I wanted to chat with Moseley about tackling the role of Father Mark Campbell. Plus, any chance to talk with Bill, I’ll gladly take!
Blumhouse.com: There was honestly a very specific reason I wanted to do this chat. I watched the trailer for THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT, and I love that you get to play a Father / Exorcist in this film. You can’t not think of the original EXORCIST whenever you see a possession movie. When you were on Shock Waves earlier this year, I loved your story of going to see TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE for the first time. When it comes to the classics, you always remember the impact they have on you. To me, THE EXORCIST is still the scariest movie of all time. Do you remember when you saw it for the first time?
Bill Moseley: I do remember that, and it was really one of those pop-culture hard-wired events. I just found it incredibly powerful, incredibly scary and it made me want to come back and see it a couple of more times, just to try to figure it all out. I didn’t grow up Catholic so I needed to watch a couple of more times to understand it fully. But I love THE EXORCIST. In fact, for THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT, I absolutely was channeling my inner Max von Sydow. I love the idea, in my exorcism, certainly the gravitas and fortitude that he brought to it, but also there’s a spirit of competition. It’s not quite the Bears versus the Packers, but it’s the church versus the devil. I thought what was interesting was the exorcism you see in the movie, we pick it up somewhere after 15 or 20 days of this. So, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The idea of just hanging in there, saying the prayers, sprinkling holy water and basically hitting your marks day by day, and eventually, you’re going to wear down the devil. Of course, when THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT opens, it begins on that fateful day where the devil pulls a couple of extra tricks and turns things upside down. The bonds break, the levitation, she’s chasing us around the room – all hell breaks loose!
BH.com: I don’t think you’ve ever played a role quite like this. As an actor, I’m sure you enjoy the challenge of trying something different. How did you approach being a priest in this film? Did you do any research, or do you usually stick with your gut and what’s on the page?
BM: I’m more of a “stick with my gut, and what’s on the page” actor. I looked into exorcisms. I probably read the Wikipedia. (Laughs) But again, what I try to do as an actor is bring things that I can relate to. That’s why I mentioned the Bears versus the Packers. This is a battle of faith, really. I think whether you are Catholic, or religious or not, we all get tested. That was the anchorage in my approach. That battle of faith. I have absolute faith not only in the holy water and the bible and the crucifix, in the process itself, but also that somehow God is going to triumph over the devil. When things don’t go that way, without giving away too many spoilers, it ends up being a terrible defeat. (Laughs) I end up getting raped by this possessed woman. There’s also that surrender! Not only do I lose it faith-wise, but also a priest is supposed to be celibate. My last thoughts are “that actually felt pretty good!” It ends up being a big moment for me towards the end as I’m being dispatched by the possessed woman.
BH.com: Tell me a bit about working with the director, Scott B. Hansen? He has a lot of shorts under his belt, and he’s directed a ton of music videos, but this is technically his first feature. You, obviously, have a very long and vibrant career working with a lot of different directors, so what was your working relationship like with him?
BM: I found him perfectly fun to work with. I had total confidence in him. Sometimes there is that concern with young or first time directors that there might be some period of adjustment. When you’re only coming in for a couple of days, that period of adjustment can loom large. But with Scott, I found that I was completely at ease. I came onto the set and everyone was very happy to see me, which is always a good sign. (Laughs) I was ready to work, as I try to be! I was down with everything, and I thought Scott did a great job. A lot of times directors are competent in terms of the crew and the shots, the technical side, but he got along really well and was good at communicating with the actors, which is a little trickier. Also, I found that the script was great. I thought Mary Dixon did a wonderful job writing this script with Scott. On top of it all, the catering was really good!
BH.com: (Huge laughs) That’s a big plus! If you keep your actors and crew well fed, you’re going to have a good time!
BM: I’ve been on sets where the producer’s mother-in-law is cooking and it’s not so good. (Laughs) But on THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT, in addition to everything else, by golly they did catering right and that gets my seal of approval.
BH.com: Bill, always a pleasure to catch up with you. Can’t wait to check out the film!
THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT is now available on demand, digital HD and on DVD! Be sure to listen to our in-depth and candid chat with Bill Moseley on the Shock Waves podcast from earlier this year!