In Ari Aster’s “Hereditary,” the Emmy-winning actress plays a woman named Joan, the second-in-command of a sinister cult that worships the demon King Paimon. She manipulates her family to recite chants that enable the demon and orchestrates hauntings and murders as a means to summon the dark god she prays to. It’s deep, dark, and terrifying — and Ann Dowd almost turned down the part.

In an interview with Mashable, the actress shared her initial reaction to reading the “Hereditary” script. Aside from reading it “with one eye shut,” the story transported her back in time to when she first saw “The Exorcist” in high school, as a young girl who was raised Catholic. Demon possession is scary stuff, and Dowd almost couldn’t bear to be a part of it. It’s a shocking revelation considering she’d eventually play Joan with ease, a woman who has no problem organizing nude, decapitated adults in a treehouse if it means providing a demon with a mortal vessel.