Russell Crowe faces evil in 'The Pope's Exorcist,' based on real-life priest

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By Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway

- When actor Russell Crowe began reading about the history of real-life Catholic priest Father Gabriele Amorth, who claimed to have performed over 50,000 exorcisms, he was intrigued.

“He left behind a whole bunch of his first-person experiences to read through. I think there are like a dozen books or something like that, you know. So, it was just his journey that really fascinated me to start with,” the 58-year-old said.

Crowe’s portrayal of Amorth in Sony’s horror flick “The Pope’s Exorcist” is based on the books the late priest left behind, which chronicled 36 years of exorcisms and other work for the Vatican. Amorth died in 2016.

“The Pope's Exorcist” begins its global release in theaters on Friday.

The haunting tale begins when an American widow named Julia, played by horror film veteran, Alex Essoe, moves into an old castle in Spain with her two children and they soon get more than they bargained for.

Home renovators break into a sealed room in the basement and unleash a demon that possesses Julia’s son, Henry, who is played by Peter DeSouza-Feighoney.

Amorth is tasked with ridding the demon from the child. However, unlike previous exorcisms, the demon feeds off the exorcist's own guilt and regrets.

"What the character in the movie is going through, we've tried to connect to actual experiences in Gabriele's life, so the process he's going through in terms of what it is to forgive yourself for the experiences you've had,” Crowe said.

While he knows this depiction of a religious figure may cause criticism from some, Crowe was determined to stick to Amorth’s accounts.

“Everybody is going to have their own opinion, but these are books which are written from first-person experience,” he told .

(Reporting by Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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