In a new piece written for America Magazine, priest-cum-actor William J. O’Malley, who starred as Father Dyer and also served as a technical adviser on set of The Exorcist, reflects on his first meeting with William Peter Blatty and how he come to land a role in the film.

Bill took issue with my critique that the two Jesuits in the book were too icily witty or, in Bill’s words, “cutsey flip.” Bill said his Jesuit teachers were like that.

In his letter he invited me to join him for dinner on an upcoming trip from L.A. to New York. I asked my superior for permission to fly to New York for dinner. He rolled his eyes heavenward and conceded. At said dinner, I was really on a trot. Needless to say, I was trying to impress him. This was the first instant millionaire I’d ever met. (Bill described himself as “a poor Lebanese boy from Brooklyn.”) But after about a half-hour I suddenly stopped myself and said, “D’ya know what I’ve been since I sat down?” Bill said, “Yeah. Cutesy flip.”

Two weeks later, I got a call from Bill at Warner Brothers asking, “Howjalike to play Father Cutesy Flip?” To a guy who directed 99 high school plays and musicals, that was like Charlie Brown being asked if he’d like a season with the Yankees.

That was 45 years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. But he’s left me very sadly without a final riposte. He leaves a large empty space in a lot of lives.

Read the full article here.