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Regan MacNeil
Biographical Information
Gender female
Eye color brown
Hair color strawberry blonde
Born April 1959 (novel)
1961 (film)
Affiliation(s) Chris MacNeil (mother)
Howard MacNeil (father)
Portrayer(s) Linda Blair
Lydia Wilson (The Exorcist BBC Radio)
Geena Davis (The Exorcist (TV Series)
Help me!

–Regan MacNeil, The Exorcist (film)

Spoiler warning!
This article contains plot details about a recent or upcoming episode. Read at your own risk!

Regan Teresa MacNeil is a character from the novel The Exorcist, its film adaptations, and The Exorcist television series. In the 2014 BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the novel, she was played by Lydia Wilson. Regan is the daughter of famous actress Chris MacNeil, a shy, creative young girl who is taken by the demon Pazuzu and gradually assumes a strange, agressive and completelly different behaviour which worries and scares her mother, forcing Chris to consult an exorcist.

Regan became an icon of horror films and a primary influence for subsequent films depicting demonic possession. The character has being spoofed in many parodies (in one occasion by Linda Blair herself), such as the Scary Movie series.


The Exorcist

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 diffident, 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 Chris is an atheist, she does not teach Regan about religion. However, her atheism is not militant and she does not attempt to discourage any belief in a higher power that others have. When Regan asks 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. At first she seeks doctors, who either consider it a case of bronchitis or an imaginary ailment. This results in further and more complicated testing, where it cannot be found where there is anything wrong with her medically, culminating in a point where some of the world's most prominent medical men convene. It steers towards the spiritual when one psychiatrist suggests demonic possession and recommends seeking the services of a priest.

Damian Karras, a priest who has studied psychology, is reluctant to approve exorcism. After a study of Regan, he agrees to it. His bishop authorizes the exorcism on the basis that he must be under the oversight of a more experienced priest, so he is aided by Lankester Merrin. A prolonged battle between Pazuzu and Karras ensues, including briefly transforming Regan into his deceased mother. After some time, Pazuzu looks for a new host, leaving Regan's body.

Regan is returned to normal with no apparent memory of her possession. However, in the penultimate scene of the first movie where Chris is given a friendly greeting by two priests, Regan gives one of them a kiss on the cheek, suggesting she has some memory remaining of Merrin and Karras and wished to give a posthumous thanks.

Exorcist II: The Heretic

Note: Exorcist II: The Heretic is non-canon

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).

Television Series

Angela Rance

Regan MacNeil, in her adulthood as Angela Rance.

In The Exorcist television series, set 40 years after the original story [1][2], an adult Regan changed her name to Angela Rance, after St. Angela Merici, to establish a new life. (Angela Rance is also an anagram for "A Clean Regan".) However, Pazuzu found her and possessed one of her daughters.[3] Angela/Regan tells Father Tomas about having an imaginary friend as a child that was a little red bird who could make her do anything. She said she didn't remember any of it due to "post-traumatic amnesia". A bible is seen with the dedication "To Rags, Love Mama, 1974". Just as she reveals her identity to Tomas, her mother, Chris MacNeil, arrives at her house and says, "I'm Chris MacNeil. I'm here to see my daughter." In a press release for the television series, the character was described as "Naturally beautiful, regal and proud but weighed down by stress, Angela does everything she can to stay positive and keep her faith even though her family is currently struggling. She can’t help but think, however, if perhaps her nightmares about a demon are a sign of what’s wrong."[4]

Notes and trivia

  • The character has been spoofed in Scary Movie 2 with actress Natasha Lyonne in the role. Linda Blair

    Natasha Lyonne as Regan in Scary Movie 2.

    herself spoofed Regan in the 1990 comedy Repossessed, alongside Leslie Nielsen. 
  • Actress/comedian April Winchell, daughter of the ventriloquist Paul Winchell, claims she was seriously considered for the part of Regan MacNeil until she developed pyelonephritis, which caused her to be hospitalized and ultimately taken out of consideration.[5]
  • Anissa Jones also auditioned for the part, but producers felt her own familiar face, having played Buffy Davis in the recently-cancelled sitcom Family Affair, would confuse and scare fans of both the show and Jones.
  • Denise Nickerson was also seriously considered for the role of Regan MacNeil, partly based on her past experience with special effects and makeup, as she is best known for becoming a giant blueberry as her role as Violet Beauregard in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. However, her family, after reading the script and seeing some elements that caused them concern, refused to endorse her for the role.
  • The agency representing Linda Blair overlooked her, recommending at least 30 other clients for the part of Regan. Blair's mother brought her in herself to try out for the role.
  • On the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair's delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines.
  • The substance that the possessed Regan (Linda Blair) hurls at Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) is thick pea soup. Specifically, it's Andersen's brand pea soup. The crew tried Campbell's but didn't like the "effect."
  • In the scene where the words "help me" arise out of Regan's torso, the effect was achieved by constructing a foam latex replica of actress Linda Blair's belly, writing the words out with a paint brush and cleaning fluid, then filming the words as they formed from the chemical reaction. Special effects artist Dick Smith then heated the forming blisters with a blow dryer, causing them to deflate. When the film was run backwards, it appeared as though the words were rising out of young Regan's skin in an attempt to summon intervention.
  • Linda Blair injured her back when a piece of the rig broke as she was thrown about on the bed.
  • For the vomiting sequences, Eileen Dietz doubled (uncredited) for Linda Blair, and later sued unsuccessfully for puking credit.
  • According to Variety magazine, it was revealed that Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds were contenders for the roles of Regan and Chris MacNeil.
  • According to Panorama magazine, William Friedkin didn't give Brooke Shields the part of Regan McNeil because "she was too young for the part". It is known that Shields at the time wasn't known as an actress prior to the controversy of a similar film: Pretty Baby (1978).
  • Dana Plato claimed that she had been offered the role of Regan but her mother Kay had turned it down. In the book "Former Child Stars: The Story of America's Least Wanted" William Peter Blatty later said that he had "no such recollection" of this actually happening, and that Plato herself may have been the source for this rumor. She eventually got a role in Exorcist II: The Heretic.
  • Laura Dern and Eve Plumb auditioned for the role of Regan McNeil.
  • Sharon Stone was considered for Regan McNeil.
  • Melanie Griffith revealed that she auditioned for Regan McNeil.
  • Pamelyn Ferdin, a veteran of science fiction and supernatural drama, was a candidate for the role of Regan.
  • Anissa Jones auditioned for the role of Regan, she was rejected.
  • When she was working as a model, Kim Basinger auditioned for the role of Regan MacNell.
  • There were 30 actresses considered for the role of Regan MacNeil.
  • There were 600 applicants trying out or was considered to play Regan MacNeil.
  • For The Exorcist III, Carolco Pictures had the idea of a grown up Regan and giving birth to possessed twins but it was abandoned and the story got switched to Blatty's novel Legion instead. John Carpenter wanted to direct The Exorcist III but William Peter Blatty directed it, changing the story and the movie.
  • According to the Exorcist novel, Regan has a picture of her father, Howard MacNeil, on her bedside table. [6]



  1. Hinckley, David. "Jeremy Slater Didn't Really Want to Make a New Exorcist, Except Now He Did", The Huffington Post, 08 August 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016. Web.
  2. Fowler, Matt. "The Exorcist TV Series to Contain Nods to the Original Film", IGN, 09 August 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016. Web.
  3. The Exorcist: Chapter Five; Through My Most Grievous Fault (October 21, 2016)
  4. Geena Davis To Star In ‘Exorcist’ Fox Pilot
  5. 5 things you don't know about April Winchell, Mr. KABC Radio Show audio archive, accessed February 8, 2007
  6. Blatty, William Peter. The Exorcist. New York: Harper & Row. 1971. Print.
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