Fox’s The Exorcist season two will find Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) and Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) teaming up to perform more exorcisms, while Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) works on uncovering conspirators inside the Vatican. During the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Daniels, Herrera, and Egyiawan sat down for roundtable interviews to provide the scoop on what’s in store for season two of the riveting horror series.
Season two of The Exorcist will premiere on September 29, 2017.
Where do we pick up with season two?
Ben Daniels: “We’re full-on. We start full-on in the middle of the action. It’s six months further down the line and Marcus has been training Tomas to be an exorcist. They’ve been out on the road; they’ve left Chicago. They’ve arrived in Montana, they’re in the middle of an exorcism when we join them and Tomas has become powerful, as powerful as Marcus probably. We’re starting to see a split between them, so that’s how it begins. And it’s very, very rural whereas it was urban in season one. This is out in the open and the new story, the new family, is in a forest.”
Kurt Egyiawan: “And for Bennett, he’s back home in the Vatican. I guess he’s trying to work out just how far this conspiracy goes, just how far in the Church it’s gotten up to. This institution that he’s called home and believes in, he’s a soldier of the Church, whether it’s rotten to the core and what he’s going to do about that.”
Alfonso Herrera: “We start in Montana so Tomas has said goodbye to his life in Chicago, his comfort zone which is his family, his congregation, and his career as a priest. He suddenly realizes that he has a bigger task, he has a bigger purpose. He follows Marcus and Marcus is his teacher. And suddenly Tomas, in his process of becoming an exorcist, he starts to take some risks that aren’t necessary, in Marcus’ perspective. That is going to generate some kind of peculiar friction. That’s going to be very interesting.”
Who’s the new demon you’re fighting?
Ben Daniels: (Laughing) “I can’t tell you that! It might not be just one.”
How do you think your characters have changed going into season two? Marcus started out skeptical so is he more skeptical now?
Ben Daniels: “We do see in this season how his excommunication impacts on him. I think he’s always had the Church as this structure, the only structure in his life, really. And as much as he’s said he’s hated it, he’s kicked against it, it’s not there now so he no longer has his collar and so he’s very rudderless as a human being. We begin to see how that affects him as a human being and consequently his work.”
Kurt Egyiawan: “I think for Bennett it would be, I guess, it’s a case of what do you do about an institution that you call home and the place that’s made you, essentially, and you know is rotten at the core. How do you fix that without running away?”
Alfonso Herrera: “In season one he was resisting the idea of confronting evil. He was taking steps back, and now he assumes it and he wants it all. That is going to generate some consequences.”
Do you feel like bad headlines of the real world Catholic Church have made it easier for audiences to play into the notion that great, old institutions are often not at all what they say?
Kurt Egyiawan: “I think people are always going to be curious about these big institutions that have so much history to them. Whether it’s good press or not, you’re always going to read into conspiracies and what’s going on behind closed doors and in shady corridors. So, I think it’s just great playground, sandpit, for conspiracy and for the audience anyway.”
Will we be seeing any other characters from the first season?
Ben Daniels: “No. We’ve moved completely away from them, but that’s not to say they won’t pop up at some point. (Laughing) I’m covering the bases. We don’t actually know.”
How big of a challenge is tackling a second season?
Alfonso Herrera: “When we received the news that we are going to go to a second season, everything moved so fast. So, we are moving fast, receiving scripts, moving to a different city, so everything right now is a huge and interesting challenge. We are so happy.”
Since you play priests, were you praying there would be a second season?
Ben Daniels: (Laughing) “I was down on my knees, nightly. Yeah, we were really, really hoping because we had such a good time on the first season. I think the end product was great and people really responded to it, after being quite hard. We were here before and people were a little sniffy about it and we, of course, couldn’t say the twist in episode five. So, we wanted people to stick with it. What was amazing is it developed this hardcore group of fans and had amazing press. The online (presence) was fantastic for it. We were just delighted. So, yeah, if it hadn’t come back we’d have been gutted – gutted! – because we had such a good time. The characters were amazing. There was always something fresh to play as actors.”
Alfonso Herrera: “I come from Mexico and we are huge soccer fans and we say that if you have good chemistry and there’s a good atmosphere in the locker rooms, then you can enjoy the game. I think this was the case. We have amazing camaraderie outside the set, behind the cameras. I’m excited because of the story of it and because of the path of the characters, but at the same time I’m very, very excited to share a set with these two. I think we’re going to have a blast and we’re going to have fun.”
Did the three of you really become a team over the first season?
Kurt Egyiawan: “Yes. It’s a great company. Everyone is so warm and so passionate about it.”
How skeptical did you really think people were when you were launching this series? Did you feel that before the show’s premiere?
Ben Daniels: “Oh, you just have to turn on Twitter and type in ‘The Exorcist Fox’ and you would get vitriol. And what was great was seeing that turn around. It was really, really amazing. We just wanted people to watch, enough people for there to be a second season. Fox was really thrilled with it as a product and as you probably know, it sold all over the world. People have responded to it really, really well.
We were really aware that it was a risk. I think any of those big film franchises when you decide to do something with them, either if it’s like a big book that gets turned into a movie or in this case a book and a movie that gets turned into a TV series, people feel a sort of ownership of those very strong storylines. And so it’s like, ‘You can’t mess with this!’ and then people sort of went, ‘Oh, oh, oh! It’s a big sequel to it!’ I think it was handled really sensitively, so it was amazing to see that turn around. But, yes, we did feel it.”
Losing Geena Davis’ character, do you feel like you’ve lost a little bit of the connection to the show’s larger heritage?
Ben Daniels: “No. I think now people have seen that first season and how after people saying, ‘It’s ridiculous. There’s no tie-in. No one is mentioning anything. There’s just a shot of the stairs,’ it obviously did in a much bigger way tie into it. I think people wanted that and they needed that for us to be able to move on and for it to become its own beast, which hopefully it will this season.”
Are Tomas and Marcus hiding from the Church?
Ben Daniels: “I think it’s safe to say that they are. (Laughing) I don’t know if we can tell you that. They are or if they’re not, they do. Well, I think Marcus has been hiding anyway. He slashed someone’s throat in broad daylight.”
Alfonso Herrera: “And I’m just following him.”
Will the storylines intersect between Father Bennett and Marcus this season?
Kurt Egyiawan: “I’m not too sure.”
Ben Daniels: “Yes, they will. I got a piece of information today. I think everything sort of links in together, but it’s a much more expansive universe that we go into. But, yeah, they’ll all link up at some point.”
Watch the full Ben Daniels, Alfonso Herrera, and Kurt Egyiawan The Exorcist interview:
(Interview by Fred Topel. Article by Rebecca Murray.)