Russell Crowe was captivated by the story of Father Gabriele Amorth, a Catholic priest who claimed to have performed over 50,000 exorcisms.
"He left many of his first-person experiences for others to read. I believe there are roughly a dozen novels or something similar. Thus, it was his trip that initially captivated me," the 58-year-old stated.
Crowe's portrayal of Amorth in Sony's horror film "The Pope's Exorcist" is based on the priest's publications, which detailed 36 years of exorcisms and other activities for the Vatican. Amorth passed away in 2016.
"The Pope's Exorcist" begins its worldwide theatre premiere on Friday.
The eerie story begins when an American widow named Julia, portrayed by horror film veteran Alex Essoe, and her two children move into an old castle in Spain, where they soon discover more than they bargained for.
Peter DeSouza-Feighoney plays Julia's son Henry, who is possessed by a demon after home renovators break into a sealed compartment in the basement and release it.
Amorth is instructed to expel the devil from the infant. In contrast to earlier exorcisms, the devil feeds on the exorcist's regrets and remorse.
"We've tried to connect what the character in the film is experiencing to actual events in Gabriele's life, so the process he's going through in terms of what it means to forgive yourself for the experiences you've had," added Crowe.
Crowe was adamant about adhering to Amorth's tales, despite his awareness that the image of a holy character might provoke criticism.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but these are first-person accounts," he told Reuters.