|The Exorcist character|
|First appearance||The Exorcist|
|Created by||William Peter Blatty|
|Portrayed by||Linda Blair (films) |
Lydia Wilson (BBC Radio)
Geena Davis (TV series)
|Family||Chris MacNeil (mother)|
|Age||12 (first film)|
16 (second film)
Regan Teresa MacNeil (born November 11, 1961; adaptations: c. September 1963) is a fictional character from William Peter Blatty's horror novel and film adaptation The Exorcist as a supporting character and its first sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic and the sequel television series, The Exorcist, as one of the main protagonists in season one. In both films, she was portrayed by Linda Blair and in the television series, she was played by Geena Davis.
Regan MacNeil is a 12-year-old girl and the daughter of actress Chris MacNeil. Regan is caught between her mother's grueling working schedule and the fact that her parents are in the process of an acrimonious divorce (her father is in Europe and is not seen in the movie).
She is described as shy, even different, and it is not within her nature to behave aggressively. She is devoted to her mother, making clay animals as gifts for her and leaving a rose at her place at the kitchen table each morning. Chris is determined to be a good mother, spending all her off days with her. Because she is an atheist, she does not teach Regan about religion, but when Regan has questions about God, Chris tries to answer reassuringly.
Even though Chris knows Regan very well, it takes her some time to realize that Regan's bizarre changes are not neurological. As soon as she accepts the idea of possession, she consults Fr. Karras and begs him to evaluate Regan for an exorcism.
In the sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic, which takes place four years after the events in The Exorcist, Regan is 16 years old, living in New York City and undergoing psychiatric therapy, claiming to remember nothing about her plight in Washington, D.C. while her psychiatrist believes her memories are only buried or repressed. As the story progresses, Regan is revealed to have psychic healing powers (the reason why the demon attacked her previously).
For The Exorcist III, Carolco Pictures had the idea of a grown up Regan who gives birth to possessed twins but it was abandoned and the story was switched to Blatty's novel Legion instead. John Carpenter was asked to direct The Exorcist III, but backed out when he realized William Peter Blatty really wanted to direct himself and because of creative differences, however they remained friends.
Actress/comedian April Winchell states that she was seriously considered for the role until she developed pyelonephritis, which caused her to be hospitalized and ultimately taken out of consideration. Pamelyn Ferdin was a candidate for the role, but the producers may have felt she was too well-known. Denise Nickerson was also considered and offered the role, but her parents rejected it on her behalf after reading the film's script.
In popular culture
In the Supernatural season 2 episode The Usual Suspects, Linda Blair guest stars as a police detective helping them against an apparent vengeful spirit. At the end of the episode, a reference is made to Linda's role as Regan in the form of Dean commenting that Linda's character looked familiar and Dean suddenly wanting pea soup.
- "The Exorcist Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Through My Most Grievous Fault". TV Fanatic. 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- 5 things you don't know about April Winchell, Mr. KABC Radio Show audio archive, accessed February 8, 2007
- "Among Ferdin's disappointments was losing the role of Regan MacNeil in the 1973 movie, The Exorcist to Linda Blair." Bob Leszczak, The Odd Couple on Stage and Screen (McFarland, 2014).