Horror movies are intended to leave people spooked and it’s not uncommon for paranormal situations to unfold on set during filming.
From the mysterious claw marks The Conjuring star Vera Farmiga found on her computer screen to the fire on the set of The Exorcist that caused the MacNeil family house to burn down – except Regan’s room – it almost sounds scarier than the films themselves.
Now, Russell Crowe has seemingly had his own strange experience while filming his very first horror movie. The Oscar winner stars as the late Italian Catholic priest and exorcist Gabriele Amorth in the terrifying new film, The Pope’s Exorcist.
In this cross between The Exorcist and The Da Vinci Code, Amorth – who was described by producer Michael Patrick Kaczmarek as the ‘James Bond of exorcists’ – investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a conspiracy the Vatican has tried to keep hidden for centuries.
During a chat with UNILAD about the new film, Crowe revealed he found something extremely strange outside his house over the course of filming.
Russell Crowe plays Gabriele Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist. Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing
“I think we were all aware of keeping ourselves sane throughout the course of the shoot,” he said. “There were certainly little strange coincidental things happening but you’ve got to keep your balance with that.
“I arrived home once and there was a dead bird in the centre of the doorway of the house I was staying in and birds are quite symbolic within the movie.”The 59-year-old film star concluded with a laugh: “But I rationalised that a different way in my head – that there must be some creature in the woods around where I was living that had realised I had gone away for a few days and was leaving me a welcome home gift…”
We can only hope!
The Gladiator star says he is very ‘superstitious’ and he doesn’t like horror films. “I’m not a horror fan at all,” he confesses. “I don’t like scary movies. I like movies like The Princess Bride and things like that. So, I’m not a horror fan.”
So, why has Crowe decided to star in The Pope’s Exorcist, you ask? It’s all because of Amorth’s incredible real life story. Born in the town of Modena, in the north of Italy, in 1925 – the same place known for being the hub of Ferrari – he had a religious calling at an early age. But when he was 17, he was told by a senior priest he was too young to become a priest and was sent away.
During World War II, Amorth was recruited into the Italian Army, but soon switched sides and became a partisan in the fight against the fascists and Nazis. At the end of the war he went to law school, but his calling never left him. In 1951, Amorth was ordained to the priesthood and in 1986, Rome assigned him to assist Father Candido Amantini, then the Vatican’s chief exorcist.
Crowe found something strange outside his house during filming. Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing
In 1990, Amorth established the International Association of Exorcists and two years later, when Father Amantini died, Amorth moved from apprentice to chief exorcist.“What drew me to this though is the life story of this man,” Crowe tells UNILAD. “He had a very interesting life and I was hoping if we could get at least some of that on screen it would be a good piece of entertainment for people.”
The Pope’s Exorcist is in UK cinemas Friday, 7 April.