Cover Media Drafts

Ellen Burstyn and Francis Ford Coppola mourn director William Friedkin

Arrivals at 2018 Muse Awards
Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn and Francis Ford Coppola have paid tribute to the late William Friedkin.

The Exorcist director passed away on Monday at his home in Los Angeles after suffering from heart failure and pneumonia aged 87.

Responding to the news, Burstyn, who starred in Friedkin’s enduring horror classic in 1973, said in a statement to Deadline, “My friend Bill Friedkin was an original; smart, cultured, fearless and wildly talented. On the set, he knew what he wanted, would go to any length to get it and was able to let it go if he saw something better happening. He was undoubtedly a genius.”

The Godfather filmmaker, who founded a short-lived production company with Friedkin and late director Peter Bogdanovich in the ’70s, also paid tribute to his friend via a statement to the publication.

“William Friedkin was my first friend among the filmmakers of my generation and I grieve for the loss of a much-loved companion,” he wrote. “Billy’s work represents true milestones in Cinema, a list which will never be forgotten; certainly The French Connection, The Exorcist and Sorcerer, but all of his films are alive with his genius. Pick any of them out of a hat and you’ll be dazzled… It’s very hard to grasp that I will never enjoy his company again, but his work will at least stand in for him.”

Elsewhere, Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro posted on Twitter/X, “The world has lost one of the Gods of Cinema. Cinema has lost a true Scholar and I have lost a dear, loyal and true friend. William Friedkin has left us. We were blessed to have him.”

Del Toro paired his tribute with a black-and-white photo of himself and Killer Joe director together.

Meanwhile, horror author Stephen King called Friedkin “a deeply talented filmmaker”, Elijah Wood described him as “a true cinematic master”, and Halloween director John Carpenter wrote, “Bill Friedkin was a brilliant director and a friend. I’ll miss him as both.”

Kiefer Sutherland, who stars in Friedkin’s final film The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, told Deadline, “Working with William Friedkin was one of the great honors of my career.”

The legal drama is scheduled to debut at the Venice Film Festival in September.

– Cover Media