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

‘It’s terrifying !” Ellen Burstyn isn’t talking about her crusade with a demon in The Exorcist. Nor is she recalling her battle with amphetamine addiction in Requiem for a Dream. Rather, as I sitting there opposite her, she is talking about the current US president.

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

” I was so happy and satisfied for this country that we finally had were allowed to step over the line into some kind of reasonable stance and then it rebounded route back the other way ,” she says.” But I visualize the Russians did it, don’t you agree ?”

Throughout our speech, Burstyn often asks for my opinion, and then listens with perseverance to what I have to say. We are in her Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. Filled with diverse embellishes, trifles and furniture signalling a life filled with travel, it seems well-suited to the topic at hand, given that we are here to chat about her new film. The House of Tomorrow stars Burstyn as an idiosyncratic woman who were in 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 director, Peter Livolsi, cast it to me not knowing I are connected with Mr Fuller in the past ,” Burstyn says.” It was quite by collision .”

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

It is Livolsi’s feature-length directorial debut and I imagine it must be intimidating to steer an actor 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 was responsible for getting Martin Scorsese to guide her 1974 humor Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore .

” I adoration brand-new administrators ,” she says. When she selected Scorsese to direct 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 talent hasn’t been vanquished hitherto. It hasn’t gotten defiled by know so it’s just fresh. As individual formerly 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 determine. When manufacturing The Exorcist in 1972, an accident left her on crutches for the rest of the production. As she recalls the incident, she was gathered on to the floor with a cable during a scene where she is slapped by her demonic babe, Regan.

” I said:’ He’s pulling me extremely hard-handed .’ 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 pull her so difficult ,’ and as I turned back, I felt him signal the guy and he smashed me on the storey. I expected Billy to scream slashed. Instead, I verified him stroke the cameraman’s forearm to move the camera closer and I was screaming at the priorities in my lungs. Through my screams, I said:’ Turn the fucking camera off .'”

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

The memory still leaves a bitter taste. It carries even more power in a climate where the irresponsible behaviour of directors is being re-examined following Uma Thurman’s story of mistreatment by Quentin Tarantino during a auto accident on the fixed of Kill Bill.

” That was a bad experience ,” 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 flooring, why weren’t there pads on my back ?”

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

While the experience might have left its mark, Burstyn’s time in the industry has been devoid of the sexual harassment that many of her peers have knowledge.” I’ve always been treated pretty well ,” she says.” I’ve had a couple of knows; there have been a couple of dumb guys that I worked for early on. But for the essential points I’ve always been respected. When I was a model, 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 peers suffering at the handwritings of other sex piranhas in Hollywood?

” The only party I never heard storeys about like that was our president ,” she says, although she doesn’t reveal any specifics.

She ascertains Harvey Weinstein “sick” and the allegations against him “flabbergasting” but is optimistic about the” seismic displacement in the consciousness” and potential opportunities that wives are now being offered. She contemplates Wonder Woman is” a awesome movie” and praises” 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 followed to me, I could have a career based on my sounds ,” she says.” But if I did, it would be a very short career and that I’d better not rely on that. So, I went to[ Lee] Strasberg and I studied the art of behaving. And it establishes her directorial debut with Bathing Flo, a slapstick 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 “ve been coming” alive. It’s very exciting .”

She has also gained lessons from working with director Jennifer Fox in the devastating sexual abuse drama The Tale, which acquired plaudits at Sundance this year. While her career has given her abundant possibilities with male administrators, there is something different about working with a woman.” I think that’s the difference on determine ,” she says.” The male chairmen are governing and the female administrators are working as a unit .”

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

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