Daniel Zovatto play’s Father Esquibel alongside Russell Crowe in The Pope’s Exorcist. We sat down with Zovatto to discuss working with Russell Crowe, representing his Costa Rican community, and what he is excited for audiences to see in his new movie.
Interview with Daniel Zovatto
Inspired by the actual files of Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican, The Pope’s Exorcist follows Amorth (Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe) as he investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden. The Pope’s Exorcist stars Crowe, Zovatto, Alex Essoe, and Franco Nero. Julius Avery directed the film.
Zovatto on working with his co-stars in The Pope’s Exorcist
Zovatto also told us what it was like working with his co-stars. He seemed especially proud of actor Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, who plays a young boy named Henry who is possessed by a demon.
“Peter got really into it. And as a kid would, you know, if you’re playing a demon, of course, that’s what’s going to be the most fun thing to do for him. And he really relished in that character and he loved it. When he wasn’t playing the demon, he was actually really bored on set. It was cool to watch him work and it was his first movie. And I’m just really proud of him. You know, he’s amazing.”
Zovatto also mentioned how great it was to really work out the relationship between characters with Director Julius Avery and Russell Crowe, who played Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican.
“Russell had a lot of ideas, and so did I, and Julius as well. We spent a lot of weekends together when we weren’t shooting, talking about the characters and the relationship between them. There’s a lot of moments that are really heavy in the movie, and the relationship between them is is very much a mentor to a young student or, you know, a young priest in this case. That was one of the coolest parts about the project, working with Russell and Julius and finding who these characters are in this world and hopefully moving forward.”
Director Julius Avery previously said in a statement that he felt that Zovatto was a perfect fit to work alongside Crowe.
“Their relationship is part of what got me excited about this movie,” said Avery. “I love buddy cop movies, and there are elements of that in this story – the central relationship of the old priest and the young priest – but here, they’re taking on demons, which is fun and something I haven’t seen before.”
“At the beginning of the film, Russell Crowe as Amorth is strong, intense, and world-weary. In contrast, Esquibel is young, timid, and slightly lost,” said producer Doug Belgrad. “Over the course of the film, Esquibel goes from being somewhat unsure of himself, and not necessarily fully committed to doing the work of God, to a fully realized, demon-fighting sidekick. Daniel Zovatto was the perfect piece of casting.”
Zovatto is proud to represent Costa Ricans in the horror genre
Zovatto’s strong horror-film pedigree includes the hits Beneath, It Follows, and Don’t Breathe. As Father Esquibel, a young priest training to cast out demons, the Costa Rican American actor was a natural fit. We asked Zovatto what it was like for him to be able to represent Costa Ricans.
“I’m biased, but I’m really proud to be from Costa Rica. My whole family’s back home and we don’t really have a business or movies that come out of our country. It’s very few and far between. So obviously having the dreams and just being like, ‘I’m going to go and follow my dream and see how it goes.’ And now I get people from Costa Rica, young kids that really want to follow that same dream that I had is kind of cool. Because when I was their age, I didn’t have somebody from my country. So I hope I can inspire anybody from my country, where I know there’s a lot of talent.”
Zovatto is no stranger to playing in the supernatural genres that frighten you. He previously starred in John Logan’s Showtime series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. So naturally, our first question for him was about whether or not he ever got scared on set.
“I think the most of the time you’re doing a scene, you’re working on the dialogue, the character, the moments, the beats, and all that stuff. So there’s not that much time to be scared,” Zovatto stated.
He went on to explain how the fear sets in when you actually watch the film. “I think it’s more when you actually see the film, you can get a little bit of what the director did and when he put it all together.”
When asked what he was most excited for audiences to see, Zovatto said, “I think a lot of people would be surprised. And I honestly think Russell Crowe does an amazing job. His character is so funny and he is great. Everybody in the movie is great. Peter, Alex, I mean everybody is just amazing. There are a lot of thematics that are being used in this movie that are different from what we usually see.”
The Pope’s Exorcist is available now on digital, and on DVD and Blu-ray June 13.