At 85, the award-winning actor is preparing for her directorial introduction and starring in a new cinema. She talks about Trump, feminism and the incidents on The Exorcist set that still leaves a bitter taste

‘It’s startling !” Ellen Burstyn isn’t talking about her conflict with a demon in The Exorcist. Nor is she recalling her battle with amphetamine addiction in Requiem for a Dream. Rather, as I sit down opposite her, she is talking about the current US chairwoman.

He has become an inescapable topic, particularly in New York where we are, but for the 85 -year-old, his predominate has an added sting. Burstyn was not just a vocal booster of his predecessor but was a visible part of Barack Obama’s campaign.

” I was so happy and pleased for this country that we finally had been able to pace over the line into some kind of reasonable outlook and then it rebounded method back the other acces ,” she says.” But I recall the Russians did it, don’t you agree ?”

Throughout our dialogue, Burstyn often asks for my opinion, and then listens with fortitude to what I have to say. We are in her Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. Filled with diverse adornments, ornaments and furniture signalling a life filled with movement, it seems well-suited to the topic close at hand, owing to the fact that we are here to chit-chat about her brand-new cinema. The House of Tomorrow stars Burstyn as an idiosyncratic wife who maintains a geodesic dome home with her teenage grandson, played by Asa Butterfield. Their lives are led by the teachings of designer and futurist Buckminster Fuller, who, in reality, was close friends with Burstyn.

” The chairman, Peter Livolsi, communicated it to me not knowing I was associated with Mr Fuller in the past ,” Burstyn says.” It was quite by accident .”

Ellen Burstyn in The House of Tomorrow. Photograph: Shout Studios

It is Livolsi’s feature-length directorial debut and I suppose it must be intimidating to direct relevant actors of Burstyn’s experience. After all, she has worked with Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, Oliver Stone, Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. It was Burstyn who has responsibility for getting Martin Scorsese to guide her 1974 humor Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore .

” I adoration brand-new heads ,” she says. When she elected Scorsese to lead Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, he was a relative newcomer.” I wanted to find someone brand-new. When I think about it now, what I’ve always been attracted to is that their endowment hasn’t been humiliated yet. It hasn’t gotten adulterated by ordeal so it’s just fresh. As mortal once said, whatever can go wrong will go wrong when making a film, so I’m prepared for that .”

Not many actors know as well as Burstyn about what can go wrong on a establish. When moving The Exorcist in 1972, an accident left her on crutches for the rest of the production. As she recalls the incident, she was attracted on to the storey with a cable during a scene where she is slapped by her devilish child, Regan.

” I said:’ He’s attracting me extremely hard .’ Billy[ Friedkin, the film’s director] said:’ Well, it has to look real .’ I said:’ I know it has to look real but I’m telling you, I could get hurt.’ So, Billy said:’ OK, don’t pluck her so hard ,’ and as I turned away, I felt him signal the guy and he smashed me on the storey. I expected Billy to scream cut. Instead, I viewed him touch the cameraman’s arm to move the camera closer and I was calling at the top of my lungs. Through my screamings, I said:’ Turn the fucking camera off .'”

Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Photograph: Mondadori via Getty Images

The memory still leaves a bitter penchant. It carries even more power in a climate where the reckless behaviour of directors is being re-examined following Uma Thurman’s story of abuse by Quentin Tarantino during a vehicle gate-crash on the situated of Kill Bill.

” That was a bad event ,” she says.” I don’t feel that I was complicit in it because I told[ Friedkin] not to do it. When I think about it now, why weren’t there pads on the storey, why weren’t there pads on my back ?”

She underwent “all kinds of” treatment for the rest of creation. Friedkin did not apologise, either then or since. In a recent interview with the Guardian, he disclaimed she was seriously affected.” I’m sure she was hurt by the autumn – you fall on your backside, it’s gonna hurt- but she wasn’t injured ,” he said.

While the experience might have left its brand, Burstyn’s time in the industry has been devoid of the sexual abuse that many of her peers have known.” I’ve always been treated quite well ,” she says.” I’ve had a couple of events; there have been a couple of stupid people that I worked for early on. But for “the worlds largest” part I’ve always been respected. When I was a pattern, that wasn’t true. Before I became an actress, when I was 19, 20, I had to handle some situations that were ugly .”

Was she aware of female colleagues losing at the hands of other sexual piranhas in Hollywood?

” The only being I ever heard narrations about like that was our chairwoman ,” she says, although she doesn’t reveal any specifics.

She feels Harvey Weinstein “sick” and the allegations against him “flabbergasting” but is rosy about the” seismic change in the consciousness” and the opportunities that girls are now being offered. She recalls Wonder Woman is” a fantastic movie” and adorations” all those women fighters” in Black Panther.

Early in Burstyn’s career she made an important choice about how she would be viewed as a woman in Hollywood.” It passed to me, I could have a career based on my gazes ,” she says.” But if I did, it would be a very short profession and that I’d better not rely on that. So, I went to[ Lee] Strasberg and I studied the art of playing. And it constructs me so happy to be 85 and still cultivating .”

She turned down a lot of personas early on because they didn’t fit with how she wished to be seen.” I wanted to portray dames as heroes because that’s what they are ,” she says.” Women were either rogues or wives who stayed home while their spouses went out to save countries around the world. Or the latter are prostitutes. Or they were victims. I wanted to embody the status of women as a hero, so those were the parts I was looking for. After a while, I couldn’t do that any more. You get to a extent where work is welcome .”

Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. Photograph: Allstar/ Cinetext/ Artisan Entertainment

She tells me she repents turning down the role of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but remains joyous with another significant decision at that time.” I turned down a lot of money for The Exorcist 2 ,” she says.” You can’t make a label out of The Exorcist. It’s just ridiculous .”

In general, she doesn’t dwell on the past. Next she is stepping behind the camera to attain her directorial debut with Bathing Flo, a comedy in which she will likewise star.” I’ve been putting it together for three years ,” she says.” We’re going to start shooting at the end of April and all of May and I pray I come out alive. It’s very exciting .”

She has also gained lessons learned from is collaborating with director Jennifer Fox in the devastating sexual abuse drama The Tale, which acquired plaudits at Sundance this year. While her profession has given her plentiful possibilities with male directors, there is something different about is collaborating with the status of women.” I think that’s certain differences on initiate ,” she says.” The male heads are ruling and the female heads are running as a unit .”

* The House of Tomorrow is released in the US on 27 April with a UK date hitherto to be announced

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