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Sady Doyle
For all the questions people have asked me about "The Exorcist," no-one has asked me about my most deeply held opinion, which is that Mercedes McCambridge gave the most hardcore performance of the entire horror genre - maybe of the century - and wasn't even listed in the credits.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Friends: Picture this. You, Mercedes McCambridge, are a 57-year-old woman. Your heyday was as a radio actress. Your career is mostly over. You're a recovering alcoholic. And one day you get a call: Someone wants you to be the voice of the Devil.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Mercedes McCambridge sits down, and she asks herself how she can embody a creature that is absolute pure meanness. Something with endless rage, no soul, something so evil you can't stand to look at it. And she thinks, "oh, right. That's me when I drink."
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Mercedes McCambridge calls her priest and tells him to stay on-call, because she has a job. She's the Devil now. And she needs to be drunk the entire time she's recording that role.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Mercedes McCambridge goes off the wagon for the part. But that's not enough. The Devil isn't just evil, the Devil is trapped. So Mercedes gets strong men to strap her into a chair, tie her up as tight as they can, and put her, almost completely powerless, near the mic.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
She's chain-smoking because she thinks it sounds creepy when she wheezes. She's gargling eggs to fuck her throat up and make her phlegmy. She's doing shots. And then it's time to be the Devil. So they turn the mic on and MERCEDES STARTS SCREAMING
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
And that's what you're hearing, in "The Exorcist." An old woman who is tied up, making herself sick, a woman who has literally risked her soul for this part, just screaming and screaming and screaming as loud as she possibly can.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
After the movie wraps she quits drinking again. She gets herself back. I ask you: If this were a man, if this were Christian Bale, would we EVER stop hearing about how hardcore that performance is? How fucking Method it was? How brave she is, how great, how terrifying she was?
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Because that's not what happened to Mercedes McCambridge. She was "just" a voice actor & Friedkin thought it would be cooler to claim Linda Blair was doing all that herself, so Mercedes McCambridge was cut from the credits of "The Exorcist." It took decades to put her back in.
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
MERCEDES! MC! CAMBRIDGE! Best single performance in a horror movie! Fundamentally changed the genre! Gambled her soul with the Devil AND WON! Remember the name!
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Sady Doyle Aug 30
Replying to @sadydoyle
I do not, in fact, have a SoundCloud, but I would probably be remiss if I didn’t tell you I just wrote a book on gender politics, monsters and horror:
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Ian R. Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle
Didn’t she specifically demand not to be credited? And didn’t she also get really mad at William Friedkin when it was leaked that she was the one who did the role?
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AbsolutMarek Aug 29
Replying to @Jellopuke @sadydoyle
Nope. That was Friedkin’s story.
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Chris | CaptHowdy Aug 29
So, where's the source for this secondary version of the story?
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
The "source" is McCambridge and/or the New York Times, doofus, and someone posted it just upthread:
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Let the record show, though, that Friedkin was terrible to every actress in that movie, not just McCambridge. Ellen Burstyn has chronic pain problems because she asked him not to pull her too hard during a stunt and he did it anyway:
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Angela Rynan Durrell Aug 29
I remember that about Burstyn. She was injured pretty badly and has evidently suffered chronic pain from that incident ever since. All because a director wanted to get a reaction shot.
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Charlie Jane Anders, Our Opinions Are Correct Aug 29
Replying to @sadydoyle @OOACpod
Wow this is so fascinating and infuriating and also dovetails perfectly with the latest episode of ! Wish we'd known about this when we recorded the episode...
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Sady Doyle Aug 29
Replying to @charliejane @OOACpod
I know! Horror has so many stories about actresses going ALL OUT. Like, apparently no-one wanted to work with Piper Laurie any more because she was "too old." Then she booked "Carrie," and just aimed that performance somewhere 3.5 miles over "the top." And it saved her career.
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simon ward Aug 29
Piper Laurie was a goddess imo
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Abracadabrig Aug 29
IS. She is still living and still working!!
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simon ward Aug 29
I glad to hear that bless her
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Jonathan Ruggiero 📽 Aug 29
I'm still angry about what her character did in Season 2 of Twin Peaks.
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Abracadabrig Aug 29
** spoilers ** I mean, are we talking about the yellowface or the super clever disguise
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Abracadabrig Aug 29
The whole thing gives me the heaves but I guess I associate that with the bad TV tropes of the early 80s and less with her as a person
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