The Exorcist Star Ellen Burstyn Pays Tribute to Director William Friedkin

Ellen Burstyn shares a touching tribute to her friend and Exorcist director William Friedkin.

News broke on Monday that legendary filmmaker William Friedkin had passed away at the age of 87. Director of films such as The Exorcist, The French Connection, and Sorcerer, Friedkin left an indelible mark on American cinema over the course of his career, and it came as no surprise to see so many in the entertainment industry pay tribute to the filmmaker after the news of his passing made the rounds. Among those who penned messages about Friedkin was Ellen Burstyn, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role as Chris MacNeil in The Exorcist.

"My friend Bill Friedkin was an original; smart, cultured, fearless and wildly talented," Burstyn said in her statement. "On the set, he knew what he wanted, would go to any length to get it and was able to let it go if he saw something better happening. He was undoubtedly a genius."

Burstyn will actually be reprising her role as Chris MacNeil in a new Exorcist film from the Halloween reboot trilogy director David Gordon Green. With MacNeil's appearance, The Exorcist: Believer will have direct connections to Friedkin's original film.

Jason Blum on William Friedkin

The Exorcist: Believer, like the Green's Halloween films, comes from hit-making horror studio Blumhouse. Jason Blum, producer and founder of the company, also took some time on Monday to pay tribute to Friedkin. Blum said that he is "personally indebted" to Friedkin for his contributions to horror, and that he's "intensely grateful" for the work of the filmmaker.

"I am personally indebted to William Friedkin and saddened by his loss," Blum said. "More than any other filmmaker, he changed both the way directors approached horror films and also the perception of horror films in the broader culture. We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing and intensely grateful for the body of work he has left behind."

Scott Derrickson, whose Black Phone was released by Blumhouse last year, took to social media to share his thoughts and memories about Friedkin, a massive inspiration to his work.

"It was an honor to have numerous lengthy chats via Twitter with William Friedkin," Derrickson wrote. "He also sent word through his wife to one of my producers that he watched & loved The Black Phone — a gesture I will always treasure. The Exorcist and Sorcerer are 2 of the greatest films ever made."

William Friedkin's Final Film

Prior to his passing, Friedkin completed work on one final film. The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial stars Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Clarke and is set to make its debut at the Venice Film Festival in a few weeks.