Page 3 Profile: William Friedkin, director


Is The Exorcist on re-release for the 37th time?

No, surprisingly. This time it’s his underrated 1977 film Sorceror that’s being restored for today’s cinema audiences. He’s in the Venice Film Festival to promote the film, and yesterday he was also bestowed with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The 77-year-old is a favourite of cinephiles worldwide, and his 1971 movie The French Connection and 1973’s The Exorcist are rightly regarded as classics.

Hasn’t done much in a while, has he?

You’re wrong! In 2011 he released Killer Joe, an audacious romp starring Matthew McConaughey that made it impossible for those who’d seen it to look at fried chicken in the same way again. It was hardly a roaring success, but then it was made without the help of the major studios.

Then why not call his friends at Warner Bros or Sony?

Not the best option if you want to maintain some semblance of originality, according to the director himself. Hollywood’s big players only commission films that have “someone wearing a spandex suit with a letter on his chest flying around the world saving it from evil”, he told Deadline. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t even want to watch it.”

Who’s behind the restoration of Sorceror?

That’ll be, err, Warner Bros.

Hypocrisy alert!

The studio could make a tidy profit from it in the long run. Overshadowed by Star Wars on its original release and a flop with critics, its reputation has soared over the past few years and both Quentin Tarantino and Roger Ebert counted it among their favourites. The film, which follows a group of outcasts taking a cargo of dynamite through the jungle, is the one Friedkin claims came closest to his original vision.