August 8, 2023
In the wake of the death of William Friedkin at 87 on Monday, everyone was most curious to hear from the woman most associated with his work — 64-year-old Linda Blair.
Blair, whose star performance in The Exorcist (1973) was one for the ages, took to Instagram to memorialize her mentor and friend.
"Like Sidney Poitier‘s famous movie 'To Sir with Love," she began, "how do you put into words appreciation to the person that changed your life forever, along with the world?"
She called Friedkin "a game changer" who "thought outside the box, was a genius with an incredibly bold personality and extraordinary imagery that electrified colleagues and moviegoers alike and remained a true maverick throughout his career in the film industry."
Acknowledging how special her story is within the context of his career, she went on, "Every actor wanted to work with him and maybe my story is the most poignant. Taking a real 13-year-old and confirming my stability to endure the journey he was about to take me and the world on. His directing came with demanding guidance, commitment and strict work ethic. His creative licensing with my performance, always thought provoking and precise with his 'on point' direction for my performance as Regan. Pushing envelopes with ground breaking special effects to ensure my performance was nothing less than shocking and unforgettable."
You might think of Friedkin as a sometimes vicious film snob, but he certainly seems to have had a soft side.
"He fiercely protected me from the maddening crowds that reared their ugly heads back in the day of the movie’s release," Blair insisted.
She went on, "He understood my need to remain grounded in nature, my love for animals, and giving me my first prize horse which I named “Best Director” in his honor. He supported my continued love for animals and my foundation Linda Blair Worldheart, to change the world for the animals."
Wrapping things up, she wrote, "He was my director, friend, and protector. It was an honor to know him and I am deeply saddened at this time. He changed my life forever, along with the world through my performance, and all my performances throughout my career. RIP my dear friend…love, respect and deepest condolences to Sherry, Cedric and Jack."