Fox’s The Exorcist season one centered on the Rance family and their horrific encounter with the demon Pazuzu and traitors within the Catholic Church. Season two introduces new characters who’ll be dealing with demonic possession, with John Cho (Star Trek film franchise) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool) joining the series in key roles. Teamed up at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Cho and Hildebrand discussed their feelings about the horror genre and who they’ll be playing in The Exorcist season two premiering on September 29, 2017.
The Season 2 Plot: Season two picks up with Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) and a newly collarless Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) out of Chicago and on the road, searching out evil. Across the Atlantic, Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) attempts to weed out those within the Vatican who have turned against God. Ultimately, Tomas and Marcus are led to Andrew Kim (John Cho), a former child psychologist who runs a group home for five at-risk foster children on a secluded private island off the coast of Seattle. When one of the children under Andrew’s care is targeted by a powerful force, the two priests head west, setting themselves on a collision course with hell.
What can you tell us about your new characters on The Exorcist?
Brianna Hildebrand: “I play a foster kid named Verity. She is on the verge of turning 18 which means she is soon to be kicked out of the system. She is one of, I think, four foster kids. And then this guy plays Andrew who is the foster father.”
John Cho: “Yeah. I play a child psychologist who has lost his wife recently and is left alone to take care of this foster family off the coast of Seattle on an island – a spooky locale but perhaps metaphorical for his state of life at this time. I’m excited to play this family thing. I haven’t done that before on screen but I am a dad in real life and so I felt compelled to visit it. I’m interested in playing in a genre that I’ve not been in before. Further, I was interested in…I just hadn’t seen Asians in horror. That was a compelling component. I mean, it’s already a very multi-cultural cast but I thought that would be a fun thing to do with the genre.”
Did you have to brush up on your Exorcist 101 before the show?
John Cho: “I’ve got to do it now. I saw some episodes before I met with the producers but I haven’t seen the movie. So, I’m looking forward to getting Demonology 101.”
Had you seen the film?
Brianna Hildebrand: “Well, I saw the show after they contacted me. I sat down and watched the entire show. It took like two days of my life but it was not a waste of two days. And, I was an avid horror fan growing up. In high school, my friends and I would sit around and watch horror movies, slasher movies. It was a lot of fun for us. So, I watched The Exorcist when I was in junior high, I think. And I’m pretty sure I watched most of them. It was great. I was super freaked out.”
Was it fun to go from the horror film Tragedy Girls and its subversive, feminist take on the genre to a more traditional The Exorcist type of horror?
Brianna Hildebrand: […] “I’m super excited about it. And Tragedy Girls really did introduce me to sort of being on this side; instead of watching horror, being in the horror. I think all of the blood and the prosthetics, that was my favorite part so I’m super stoked to see what comes in this and how much fun we have with it.”
What did you think about season two’s first script?
John Cho: (Laughing) “Yeah, it’s a disaster. It needs a lot of work. I have my red pen out. No, it’s really good. It starts very kinetically with Marcus and Tomas’ storyline and then we go to this artificial stasis with our family at peace. And then it flips again. So, yeah, it was very satisfying. It was a very satisfying read. It portends well for the upcoming season.”
Modern American horror has stolen/imported a lot from Asian horror. Can you talk about the presence of Asian American actors in American horror being long overdue?
John Cho: “Yeah I noticed that and then they don’t use Asians in their adaptations. Again, I’m just taking a little bit of glee in planting that flag for the genre.”
You were in Sleepy Hollow. Are you a fan of horror? Do you like to look for those things that are different in the genre?
John Cho: “I grew up being…it was very taboo for me so I’ve avoided it mostly throughout my life. My father was a preacher, and yet I was thinking about this. I watched episodes of season one and I found it to be very faith-affirming in its own way. So it’s almost like believing in the Devil is like believing in God, and vice versa. It’s a package deal. But, yeah, I don’t know. My feelings about horror are very complex and I’m going to be working that out this season, what my relationship is with it because I think it has to do a lot with my relationship with my family. That’s a confession.”
Is faith important to your characters in the show?
John Cho: “You know, I’m not sure.”
Brianna Hildebrand: “I’m not sure what I can say about that, actually.”
John Cho: “Let me say this. From what I know faith is addressed within the family. I can say that.”
Someone will get possessed in season two. Are you ready for the physicality of that based on what you saw in season one?
John Cho: “I heard Geena Davis didn’t use a stunt double. It’s the first and only time I’ll say this: what an idiot Geena Davis is! (Laughing) I’m all for stunt doubles. We don’t know who it is.”
Brianna Hildebrand: “Not yet.”
Watch the full John Cho and Brianna Hildebrand The Exorcist interview:
(Interview by Fred Topel. Article by Rebecca Murray.)