Chris MacNeil is a character from The Exorcist, portrayed by Sharon Gless. Chris is a retired actress and the mother of Regan MacNeil, who returns to her life after years of absence when her possessed granddaughter goes missing.
An actress with a successful career, Chris was careful and tender towards her 13-year-old daughter Regan, although busy and absent most of the time. Chris also aspired to become a director. She enjoyed watching Regan playing with an ouija board she discovered in their basement, through which she communicated with an "imaginary friend" Regan referred to as "Captain Howdy". After some time, Chris asked Regan to stop but the girl did not listen. Regan was then possessed by a demonic entity and succesfully exorcized. Financial problems led Chris to capitalize Regan's story, publishing a novel titled The Devil in my Daughter. Worried about the repercussions of the possession in her future life, Regan changed her name to Angela Rance and distanced herself from Chris.
|“||I'm Chris MacNeil. And I've come to see my daughter.||”|
Chris hired three private detectives to track the Rance family down. She finally returned to Regan's life when her possessed daughter Casey went missing. She identified herself to Henry Rance and met Casey's sister Kat, who asked her about her previous experience with Regan. Her arrival angered Angela, but Henry insisted Chris to stay, so she could help find Casey. To Angela's irritation, Chris called in a reporter to discuss the case, as her own way to help. Angela comfronted Chris over their past, when Angela, as the young Regan, felt exploited by her mother only for her "precious acting career" to be saved. When a corpse rumored to be Casey's was found and confirmed not to be hers, Angela and Chris forgot their differences and hugged.
When Angela became desperate with Casey's fate, Chris told her she knew Angela was a "wonderful mom". Angela then told Chris that she thought her mother "got off easy", as she just watched as Regan became possessed, but that now with Casey being taken the same way, Angela realized the experience of watching was just as painful. Father Tomas then revealed to the Rances that he and Father Marcus had been keeping in the church all the time, attempting to release her from the demon spirit.
When Angela told Henry to move out of town with Kat, fearing the repercussion of Casey's possession on her life the same way it threatened hers, Chris offered a house in Palm Springs to which initially Henry refused. After Casey was fully exorcized, the Rances prepared to move and Chris approached Angela, decided to start a new relationship with her. Angela, however, acted mean and rancorous towards Chris, until the demonic entity inside Angela revealed itself, breaking Chris' neck. Chris' body rolled down the staircase as the demon, once again inside Regan, smirked.
Differences from the original novel/film timeline Edit
- In the television series, Chris says that she told Angela/Regan to stop playing with the ouija board, but in the novel, she thinks about taking it away but decides not to in case Regan is dependent on it.
- In the television series, Chris says that she was so busy with her career that she did not have time to focus on helping Regan. In the novel, this is briefly mentioned as the reason Chris and Howard MacNeil, Regan's father, divorced was because of the emphasis on her career. However, in the original timeline, Chris does everything that she possibly can to help her possessed daughter.
- Chris' character differs considerably from her novel and film counterpart as she is now revealed to be much more focused on her career rather than on Regan's welfare, as the girl recovered from her traumatic experience.
- The scene Chris returns to Regan's life in "Chapter Five: Through My Most Grievous Fault" pays homage to the famous scene where Father Merrin arrives to the MacNeil household in the original film.
- Chris' demise mirrors that of Burke Dennings in the original novel and film, altough Burke never dies on screen.