The Rite," which opens Friday.
Here's Peg's story:
Father Gary Thomas is the subject of Matt Baglio's book "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" (Doubleday Religion), which was the inspiration for Mikael Hafstrom's film "The Rite," opening in theatres January 28, 2011. I spoke with Father Thomas on the phone last weekend, and excerpts from our conversation appear below.
Peg Aloi: How long have you been a practicing exorcist?
Father Gary Thomas: I'm pastor of a parish, but also an exorcist who serves this diocese, and I've been eligible to perform exorcisms for just over four years.
PA: How do feel about the film version of THE RITE? (Interviewer's note: I had not seen the film at the time of this interview)
GT: I went down to L. A. to see it last Tuesday and Anthony Hopkins and I sat down and watched it together, just the two of us. He's very comfortable to be around, very down to earth. I was also on the set with Anthony in Budapest; they were being very anal about wanting it to be accurate.
I think it's a very well done movie; it's really a movie about faith. They really took some license with some things but there's nothing I am ashamed of or appalled by or that I found incredulous beyond possibility. I mean, there's no special effects, no green pea soup, no spinning, no levitation.
PA: So do you think it's scary?
GT: This is not a horror film, although there are scenes that, if you see the trailers, they don't really match the movie as a whole and they make it seem more like horror. I've even been telling some of my parishioners that there are scenes that are somewhat startling. But there is nothing to that movie that I could consider to be horror or gore. There is scene where Rosario, the character who is possessed, spits up nails. In my experience I have never actually seen that, and the priest I trained with had never seen that, but another priest in Rome told me himself that he had seen that more than once.
PA: There have been some notable films dealing with exorcism and the Catholic Church. Have you seen any of them and what did you think?
GT: I‘ve seen the original of course, "The Exorcist."