'Exorcist' Icon Linda Blair Will Go to Hell and Back Protecting Animals (Exclusive)

Bianca Piazza - Author

Dec. 1 2023, Published 9:38 p.m. ET

Photo of 'Exorcist' star Linda Blair in a field with a black dog
Source: Getty Images

Oscar-nominated actor Linda Blair will forever be associated with horror's greatest, scariest, and most controversial film: 1973's The Exorcist. At 14, Blair famously played 12-year-old Regan, who became possessed by the demon Pazuzu during a Ouija board session. Her filthy, blasphemous, and phenomenal performance shocked the world (and the church), making her a household name.

And even though her time on the set was back-breaking work — literally — she still returned to the franchise for 2023's The Exorcist: Believer, which makes its streaming debut on Peacock on Dec. 1.

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But more importantly, the Golden Globe winner started the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation (LBWF) in 2006 with a mission to "alleviate suffering while rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming abused, neglected, and abandoned animals." Today, Blair breaks her back, so to speak, for companion animals in the U.S.

Photo of 'Exorcist' star Linda Blair in a sunny field with two dogs
Source: Chris Ameruoso
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"Your website is Green Matters, and that is such a core of who I am," she tells us.

In an exclusive interview with Green Matters, Linda Blair discussed the hardships of the rescue world, the importance of giving back, and declaring "a state of emergency crisis in America for the animals."

Linda Blair's love of the planet was nurtured from childhood: "I was raised to give back."

Born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1959, Blair grew up in rural Connecticut, comforted by woodland critters, Long Island Sound inhabitants, and her beloved pets.

Through a Protestant church, the Blairs frequently volunteered and donated to those in need. "That was how our community worked," the Going Vegan! author says.

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To make enough money to achieve her original veterinarian dreams, Blair's mother threw her in the performing arts. Soon enough, William Friedkin's masterpiece came along.

She went on to make influential made-for-TV movies like Born Innocent and Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, and worked with legends like Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), Richard Burton (Cleopatra), and Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

"In my 20s, I realized I wasn't getting what I needed," she shares.

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Once she started prioritizing her aspirations, Blair was introduced to Krista Rose of animal nonprofit Last Chance for Animals.

"[She] did a lot of investigation on pets and animals being sold illegally into experimentation. ... That's how my flight took off with animal welfare."

Greenpeace co-founder Paul Watson and organic farmer Howard Lyman, co-author of Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, too, influenced Blair's do-good journey.

Linda Blair's animal rescue efforts took off after Hurricane Katrina.

After learning about toxic pesticides used in traditional farming, Blair was sickened by how these chemicals impacted the post-Katrina world.

"When I served for Hurricane Katrina, I worked at The Humane Society and the ASPCA and I got the remaining 350 animals out that they had no place left in America for. I took 51 [animals], I camped in Mississippi, then went to Texas and to Los Angeles. It's why I bought this property, so I can help service the animals," she says of her foundation's Acton, Calif., property.

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"To look back at how toxic it became in the [Gulf Coast]," she continues, trailing off. It's, dare we say, sinful.

According to a 2006 scholarly article, EPA scientists analyzed Katrina floodwaters in New Orleans and "found levels of lead and arsenic at some sites in excess of drinking water standards — a potential threat given the possibility of hand-to-mouth exposure."

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The LBWF works to aid California's dog overpopulation and euthanasia rate crisis: "I'm asking for public cooperation."

Directly after Katrina, the LBWF primarily battled puppy mills, backyard breeders, and, interestingly, the Amish community.

"The Amish are quite a problem for those of us in animal welfare, with their ability to farm animals and puppy mill the dogs," Blair explains.

Post-COVID-19 pandemic California has other problems, including coyotes, in part due to human expansion, irresponsible fisherman, and open trash cans. Sadly, helpless dogs on the street are at risk of coyote attacks.

"People had trouble getting [vet] appointments during the pandemic. ... And so spay and neuter medical and vaccinations became less and less," Blair explains. "There were animals everywhere."

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Unfortunately, many California shelters are at maximum capacity. "Animals are dying, needlessly, in the shelters, and no one is doing anything about it," Blair explains.

Blair urges "the veterinarian community to step up" in these instances.

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In a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom's office, Blair pressed for the enforcement of animal protection laws, including registered microchipping and moratorium on breeding permits, and pushed for low-cost spay and neuter services and vaccinations.

Linda Blair on the magic of giving back: "You're going to find answers."

Blair wholeheartedly believes self healing is possible via charitable activities. Now, she's asking for help. "Rescue communities are willing to do the work, but they're starting to bust at the seams."

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"Foster, volunteer, donate to your community, or to me! I have given up 17 years of my life to try and change these [animal rights] laws," she says. "If you're cleaning out your closets, and it's not good for the [unhoused], give to the [animal] shelters, give to the rescues."

Adopting, planting trees, and "adopt, don't shop" education are more ways the activist encourages people to step up.

As for The Exorcist, "it gave [Blair] a new life."

"When you see things that change your life, you must act upon it and do something. The movie gave me that platform," she relays.

Blair doesn't know much about the fate of Blumhouse and Universal's reboot trilogy. Apart from her cameo in David Gordon Green's film The Exorcist: Believer, she may not return to the franchise.

"I'm not part of it until the world gives me back what I am asking, which is compassion. And just stop killing my animal friends."

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