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Sunday, September 25, 2022 | Interviews


From The Exorcist to Helter Skelter to her memoir, Excorising My Demons: Exorcising My Demons: An Actress’ Journey to the Exorcist and Beyond, and a zombie scene in 2005’s Constantine (which was cut from the theatrical version but bears mention in light of the announcement of the upcoming sequel and because who doesn’t want to work with Keanu Reeves?!?), Eileen Dietz is a staple in the horror genre. Now, she’s back with a new film, OF THE DEVIL, just released in August.

RUE MORGUE recently had the chance to sit down with Eileen Dietz and chat about OF THE DEVIL, Exorcising My Demons as well as some of the other projects she’s currently working on.

Eileen Dietz and her onscreen sidekick, Mr. Ravioli, in OF THE DEVIL.

OF THE DEVIL follows a family desperate to find a cure for their young son’s brain cancer, but when unconventional treatments lead to the child being possessed by an ancient evil, the parents must fight not only for the child’s life but his soul. You play June Summers, their neighbor and mom of Mr. Ravioli (the cutest pug ever). Can you tell me a little more about June and who she is in the film?

June is a busybody neighbor with a connection to a “doctor” in Mexico who says that he can cure the little boy with his spiritual treatment. She’s very fond of the little boy, who she often lets play with Mr. Ravioli, her dog, and she takes a huge interest in what’s going on with this family. She recommends the treatment which subsequently creates all kinds of demonology for the little boy. He comes back cured, but not the same.

 I have to say, June stole her scenes and so did Mr. Ravioli, June’s pug who’s essentially her child in the film since June has no family or children. Unfortunately, Mr. Ravioli comes to a rather terrible end. What was it like filming with a canine sidekick? 

Funnily enough, the dog wasn’t allowed on set – it was 106 degrees in California where we filmed, and pugs can’t breathe in that kind of heat. So we had to add all his scenes in afterward as an insert.

Eileen Dietz in a harrowing scene from OF THE DEVIL.

Movie magic, right?

[Laughing] The first scene I shot was at 7:30 in the morning – and I’m not a morning person – because of the heat. And I’m looking for my dog, not the pug, but my dog, who’d passed way about a year ago. She was an emotional support animal and with me all the time. Anyway, so the first scene I shot, this early morning shot, was the scene in which I’m looking for Mr. Ravioli, and I discover that the boy has made sort of a skull out of my dog. Well, I don’t know how much acting was involved in that scene because I looked at the skull and burst into tears! The director wanted me to fall on the ground in the fetal position and cry and moan. So, that was the first scene we shot and both the hardest and easiest scene for me in the whole film.

I suppose the hard part was done then? And the personal story makes that scene even more horrible and powerful, especially for you!

The director’s wife created that prop and didn’t let me see it beforehand. It gave me chills. [It] still does!

One of my favorite scenes in OF THE DEVIL is yours, and it’s an early one, too – maybe the first or second time you’re on camera. Just after the diagnosis, June comes over to have tea with Daniela Palavecino, who plays Norma Cortez, the boy’s mom, and you say (about the tea), “The more you drink, the better it gets.” I remember thinking, “How foreboding!” and sure enough, things do get a little bizarre from then on. There was something suspicious in that tea!

Yeah, I think there’s a different language they use for it now!

The symbology used in the film is really neat, and the connection between change and transformation is prevalent throughout – both the good and the bad. Did you do a lot of learning about the mythology as you prepared for the role of June?

No, but frankly, I’m not that kind of an actor. If you believe in the mythology and just accept it, then that’s how you play it. I believe that a good writer puts everything on the page. My acting teacher, Don, may he rest in peace, he always said, just go back to being a child. Believe, even if it’s weird. It’s all real. It’s all happening. So that’s what I do.

It’s really interesting to learn more about your process and what has worked for your long and successful career. You’ve done a little bit of everything! In fact, you’re a writer, too. Your memoir, Excorsing My Demons, is out now. 

It is! In the book, I write about everything from becoming Pazuzu in The Exorcist to how people often say that I was a body double for Linda Blair – which I wasn’t. Speaking of, The Exorcist is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary soon! I was part of the team of actors that worked with Linda Blair’s character, Regan, so I was quite a bit older than the character, who was 12, when we filmed that movie. Luckily I was tiny and had to make sure I stayed tiny. Actually, I once biked through Central Park wrapped in Saranwrap because at the time, that was a fad to stay fit.

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? So what’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new projects? 

Several, actually. Too many to talk about! I just finished a few things that’ll be coming soon with a number of new projects starting production.

We will certainly look forward to those! In the meantime, OF THE DEVIL is out now. And we hope everyone will check out your fascinating memoir, Exorcising My Demons: An Actress’ Journey to the Exorcist and Beyond as well!

“If you believe in the mythology … that’s how you play it. I believe that a good writer puts everything on the page… Believe, even if it’s weird. It’s all real. It’s all happening. So that’s what I do.”

Lindy Ryan
An award-winning author, editor, professor, and short-film director, Lindy Ryan was recently named one of horror’s six most masterful anthology curators, alongside Ellen Datlow and Christopher Golden, for her work in UNDER HER SKIN, a women-in-horror poetry showcase, and INTO THE FOREST: TALES OF THE BABA YAGA, a forthcoming women-in-horror anthology from Black Spot Books and Blackstone Audio. A 2020 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree and previous board member for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Lindy is a long-time advocate for women-in-horror and an active member of the HWA and ITW. She is the current chair of the Horror Writers Association’s Women in Horror Month. The author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, Lindy’s work has been adapted for film. Her debut horror-thriller novel, BLESS YOUR HEART, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.