Ben Daniels Pulls Demonic Double Duty on ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Simpsons’

The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror XXVIII, Ben Daniels
Homer and Marge with the Irish Priest (voice of Ben Daniels) in The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror XXVIII

It’s a good thing The Exorcist‘s Ben Daniels knows how to handle little hellions, because this weekend, the actor has his hands full of evil spirits.

On Friday’s episode of The Exorcist, called “One for Sorrow,” Daniels’ Marcus Keane and spiritual sidekick Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) finally meet up with Andy (John Cho) and his brood of troubled foster kids—which now includes Harper (Beatrice Kitsos), the over-medicated young girl they saved from an abusive mother last week. He also meets a resident on that creepy Seattle island who may inspire some sinful thoughts in Marcus (wink, wink), but before that, Daniels has another demon to deal with: Maggie Simpson. In The Simpsons‘ annual “Treehouse of Horror” special episode this Sunday, Daniels pipes up in the first segment as—you guessed it—an exorcist who is called in to save the possessed infant’s soul.

Here, Daniels explains what’s in store for Marcus and company, as well as how his animated side-job came to be.

OK, so this week Marcus and Tomas meet everyone at Andy’s foster home. What more will we learn about this new demon?
Ben Daniels: Once they land on the island, they’re drawn into the orbit of Andy Kim’s foster family, and after a routine visit they realize pretty quickly that an evil presence is targeting the family. Over the next few episodes, they’ll begin to uncover the truth about this ancient demon and how best to fight it.

How bad is it?
All I can say is that Marcus has never encountered a demon like this before so both he and Tomas have to work together closely to make the demon manifest so they can fight it.

Tomas has put them both at risk, but he seems to have learned his lesson after misinterpreting Harper’s drug-induced “possession.” Does Marcus trust him again?
Marcus has issues with trust at the best of times, so Tomas is really going to have to prove himself to win any kind of trust back. He cares deeply for Tomas and recognizes his talents as an exorcist but is less keen on Tomas’s impetuosity. If there’s anything that endangers the immortal soul of the possessed—or any other person in the vicinity including Tomas himself—then Marcus will always try to shut that down. This is an unfolding strand of the story that develops in a challenging way for them both.

The Exorcist, Ben Daniels, Alfonso Herrera, Fox

Ben Daniels and Alfonso Herrera in the “One For Sorrow” episode of The Exorcist

How do Tomas and Marcus feel about Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson)? Her tactics are a bit questionable.
Well, they don’t know what Mouse is up to overseas. But since Marcus has already dispatched the integrated Brother Simon by slitting his throat with a rosary [last season], I think it would be incredibly hypocritical for him to question her method of demon dispatching! [Laughs]

So, how did The Simpsons gig come to be? And how long ago did you have to record your part?
I got an email from The Simpsons casting director saying there was an Exorcist scene that they’d love me to voice. The character was already drawn, so it was just a case of going in and lip-syncing to a cartoon. It was a huge amount of fun, and as a horror nut, I am beyond thrilled to have appeared in a “Treehouse of Horror” episode. I mean, come on! It’s The Simpsons! [Laughs]

What are your Halloween plans? Because for us horror fans, it’s pretty much a holy day.
There’s an Exorcist outing planned, and I feel in my bones it’s going to get very messy. It will undoubtedly make its way onto Twitter/Instagram, so watch out! [Laughs]

The Exorcist, Friday, 9/8c, and The Simpsons, Sunday, 8/7c, both on Fox