I grew up going to church every weekend and attending a Catholic school from Kindergarten through 12th grade, so I don’t like normal religious movies. But give me an exorcism horror movie with a disgraced priest as its major character? I am in! That’s what drew me to Alejandro Hidalgo’s The Exorcism of God. To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with star Will Beinbrink (It Chapter 2) about why he wanted to play Father Peter, why he loves horror, and what’s up next.
PopHorror: Hi Will! I really loved the film,so I’m excited to speak with you today.
Will Beinbrink: Oh good! It must be nice to watch something and then be excited to talk to people because you really liked the film, versus not.
PopHorror: That’s what makes it so fun! So what intrigued you about The Exorcism of God and made you want to be a part of the film?
Will Beinbrink: Well, Tiffany, I read the script, and the script is terrifying and amazing.
PopHorror: I guess that makes it easy.
Will Beinbrink: Yeah! You read something like that and you’re like, “Uh, I should do this.” There’s scenes in there that have never been seen before in the horror genre and especially the exorcism genre. And they’re not done out of shock. They’re done out of genuine connection to the story. It’s a really, really great piece of screenwriting by Alejandro Hidalgo.
PopHorror: After reading the script, was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Will Beinbrink: I feel like, at times, I wanted to keep him stronger. I think sometimes there might have been a little bit of a language barrier, I’m not sure. But I wanted to keep the character stronger. I feel like, at times, Alejandro wanted it to be a little bit more romantic. I think we found a happy middle, because I think the romance he was looking for creates a more human character, but I just didn’t want it to turn into a “Woe is me” or anything melodramatic. It’s a very fine line, because there are so many scenes that could easily be melodramatic, I feel like. That was the challenge for the character, finding that sweet spot, because I didn’t want to play him as the quintessential American hero that puts on his bootstraps and doesn’t really feel that much. He always holds it in, that quintessential, steel-jawed American hero. I felt like, if I did that, it just wouldn’t tell the story as well, and it wouldn’t be as human. It would feel more like a superhero movie than a human story.
Alejandro, in the genre of horror, wanted the depravity and the strength and the depth of the characters, but he also wanted it to have some lyrical qualities and romance. I agreed with him, but I was afraid of it going too far. I feel like we worked together to find that fine line where you’re still a hero, but you’re a hero that has humanity, is fallible, and does make mistakes.
PopHorror: With this film, there’s a lot of religious aspects, and you even speak Spanish. How did you prepare for your role?
Will Beinbrink: Fortunately, I had some schooling in Spanish.
PopHorror: That helps!
Will Beinbrink: Otherwise, I would have been like, “OMG, I have to speak half the movie in Spanish. There’s no way!” So fortunately, I did have several years of Spanish in school. But for me, it was a little bit of a quick jump into the movie. There was a short time between when we found out we were doing the movie and filming. I chose to take the time that I had and put my attention on the story and the script and the characters and their relationships and also finding things that I connected to that I find scary. Things that I would be terrified of, because personally for me, some of these things that happen in the movie are not things that I personally would be terrified by. Or maybe if they really happened, I might be terrified. But for my imagination, I needed something that was more directly linked to my life. I imagined things that were different. Like I imagined, at times, that animals were some of these things coming at me. Like a Great White Shark was attacking me or something.
PopHorror: Oh yeah!
Will Beinbrink: Those were some of the practices that I used to connect to these different terrors. Someone said at Sitges, “You know, all of these movies have Scream Queens and they carry the movie, but you’re like the next Scream King!”
PopHorror: That’s awesome!
Will Beinbrink: I was laughing about that, but in a way, she’s right because Father Peter’s the one being affected by all these things coming at him, and he has to not only have a strong reaction and experience with them, but still has to carry the movie forward without being debilitated by these experiences or lessening them. So, it’s a fine line.
PopHorror: You’re no stranger to the horror genre. What brings you back to horror?
Will Beinbrink: I like things that are highly engaging, highly interactive, highly charged. Situations like this, to me, are extreme. I like extreme situations. I like extreme situations in my life. I’m an avid surfer, I’m a person who spends a lot of time outdoors, so I think personally, those are stories I connect with. And also, I feel like coming from a background of theater and having been exposed to the great plays and the classical theater, they all have these massive storylines and massive stakes. We’re talking about kings and queens. We’re talking about countries. We’re talking about major plots. I feel like those are things that I directly get excited by.
PopHorror: What is up next for you? Is there anything that you’re currently working on?
Will Beinbrink: There’s a few things that I’m working on that at this time, but I am not able to discuss them. But I will say, the pandemic has been a great teacher, and it’s made me look at the time I have left on this planet and what interests me. What I can say is what really interests me are people who I am either inspired by, impressed by, or people that I care about. Friends that I love working with that continue to push the envelope. So, I’ve been actively reaching out and working and developing projects with people that I believe in and love on a personal level. So, there’s a few exciting projects in the works. Hopefully they will be done, and we will begin shooting in the first half of this year. Who knows? But I feel like that’s been the way I want to continue to work. I did have a really nice opportunity on a show, FBI: International, but unfortunately, I ended up getting Covid.
PopHorror: Oh no!
Will Beinbrink: I had to test, and I tested positive and I go, “Okay, there goes that experience,” which is definitely disappointing, because it was a great role on a really interesting show that shoots in Hungary. I would have loved to have gone to Hungary and been a part of that show. Hopefully, there will be a role for me on that show in the future.
PopHorror: I just have one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?
Will Beinbrink: Hmm… What is my favorite scary movie… Probably Seven.
Thank you so much, Will, for speaking with us. You can catch The Exorcism of God in theaters, On Demand, and digital now!