In this article, you will learn just how cold the bedroom scene was kept in order to achieve the effect of real icy breath. Other tidbits of information included the intensity of filming that caused injuries to some of the actors (one of them permanent) and ups and downs of selecting a final director for the film.
The voice of the demon was that of Mercedes McCambridge , an actress known for appearing in various television shows who had to later sue Warner Brothers for credit.
When it came to the role of Chris McNeil, there were many different choices at hand. Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine were approached to take on the role. Audrey Hepburn was also a choice, but would only accept the part if the movie was filmed in Rome. Anne Bancroft was another actress considered for the role, but she was entering her first month of pregnancy and had to pull out. Geraldine Page was also offered the role of the mother that went to Ellen Bustyn, but turned it down.
During the filming of the movie, Ellen Burstyn sustained a permanent spinal injury. In the sequence where she is tossed away by her possessed daughter , the harness holding her body jerked her body rather hard away from the bed. When she landed, she fell on her coccyx and let out a scream in pain, which is part of the movie to this day. Linda Blair would also injure her own back when a piece of the rig broke during the scene where she was thrown around the bed.
It was a roller coaster ride trying to solidify a director for the movie. Warner Brothers pursued Arthur Penn (of the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde”). However, Penn was teaching at Yale at the time. They then went after Peter Bogdanovich (of the 1971 flick “The Last Picture Show”), but he wanted to become a part of other projects. This would later become a decision that he admitted to regret. Mike Nichols (of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woofe” and “The Graduate” fame) was another choice, but did not want to shoot a film that centered so much on the performance of a child. Finally, the studio hired Mark Rydell, who had made a career of directing popular television shows like “Gunsmoke”, but Blatty was partial to Friedkin , who would eventually become the director.
At the beginning of the movie, there is a scene that involves an archaeological dig, which actually took place at the site of origin , the ancient Nineveh , located in Hatra, Iraq.
The bedroom set of the film was refrigerated , using four air conditioners to create temperatures that dived between 30 and 40 degrees below zero. It is reported by cast and crew that the room would get so cold that whenever someone worked up a sweat, it would freeze.