Deena Matlock

Written by Deena Matlock

Modified & Updated: 28 Apr 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


William Friedkin is a legendary figure in the world of filmmaking, known for his bold and influential work as a director. With a career spanning over several decades, Friedkin has left an indelible mark on the industry, producing some of the most iconic films of all time. From his groundbreaking masterpiece “The Exorcist” to the gritty and suspenseful “The French Connection,” Friedkin has proven time and again his ability to captivate audiences with his distinct storytelling style.

However, there’s more to William Friedkin than just his exceptional filmmaking skills. In this article, we will delve deeper into the life and career of this remarkable artist, shedding light on some of the most fascinating facts that have shaped his journey. From his early beginnings in Chicago to his struggles and triumphs in Hollywood, there’s much to discover about the man behind the camera.

Key Takeaways:

  • William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist and The French Connection, became the youngest person to win the Best Director Oscar at 32, leaving a lasting impact on Hollywood history.
  • Friedkin’s diverse filmography, hands-on directing approach, and influence on New Hollywood continue to inspire a new generation of filmmakers, solidifying his legendary status in the world of cinema.
Table of Contents

The Exorcist became a cultural phenomenon.

With its terrifying portrayal of demonic possession, The Exorcist became a cultural phenomenon and the highest-grossing horror film of its time. William Friedkin directed this classic horror film, which continues to captivate audiences to this day.

William Friedkin was the youngest person to win the Best Director Oscar.

At the age of 32, William Friedkin won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on The French Connection in This made him the youngest person at that time to ever receive this prestigious award, solidifying his place in Hollywood history.

The French Connection is known for its iconic car chase scene.

The French Connection is famous for its thrilling car chase sequence through the streets of New York City. This intense and realistic scene has been praised as one of the greatest car chases in cinema history, showcasing Friedkin’s expert directing skills.

William Friedkin directed Al Pacino in the crime thriller, Cruising.

Friedkin directed Al Pacino in the controversial crime thriller, Cruising, released in The film explores the dark underbelly of gay nightlife in New York City and sparked controversy upon its release due to its graphic depiction of violence and the LGBTQ+ community.

Sorcerer is a lesser-known but critically acclaimed film by William Friedkin.

Sorcerer, released in 1977, is often overlooked but has gained critical acclaim over the years. This suspenseful thriller follows four men who are hired to transport highly volatile nitroglycerin through treacherous South American terrain, testing their skills and pushing them to their limits.

William Friedkin directed the action-packed film, To Live and Die in LA.

Friedkin helmed the gritty crime thriller, To Live and Die in LA, released in The film explores the morally ambiguous world of counterfeiting and features intense action sequences that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

William Friedkin and playwright Tracy Letts collaborated on the psychological thriller, Bug.

Friedkin teamed up with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts for the film adaptation of Bug in This mind-bending psychological thriller delves into themes of paranoia and conspiracy, featuring outstanding performances from its cast.

Killer Joe shocked audiences with its dark and twisted plot.

Killer Joe, directed by Friedkin in 2011, stunned audiences with its dark and twisted narrative. This black comedy thriller follows a young man who hires a hitman (played by Matthew McConaughey) to kill his own mother for insurance money.

William Friedkin directed the action-comedy film, The Hunted.

Friedkin showcased his versatility with the action-comedy film, The Hunted, released in Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, this thrilling movie explores the cat-and-mouse game between a former military operative and a deadly assassin.

William Friedkin has a deep admiration for filmmaker Fritz Lang.

Friedkin has expressed his admiration for legendary filmmaker Fritz Lang, particularly his masterpiece, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Friedkin even had the opportunity to interview Lang, and the two discussed their shared passion for storytelling and the art of filmmaking.

Cruising inspired controversy within the LGBTQ+ community.

The release of Cruising sparked protests and backlash from the LGBTQ+ community due to its portrayal of gay culture and violence. The film remains a source of debate and discussion, with some criticizing its representation, while others appreciate its exploration of subcultures.

William Friedkin has a unique approach to directing.

Known for his hands-on approach, Friedkin immerses himself in the filmmaking process, often working closely with the actors and crew to create a cohesive vision. His attention to detail and dedication to storytelling have earned him respect and admiration within the industry.

The Guardian named William Friedkin as one of the key figures in New Hollywood.

Friedkin’s groundbreaking work in the 1970s, alongside other influential filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, helped shape the New Hollywood era. His bold and daring storytelling pushed the boundaries of cinema, leaving a lasting impact on the industry.

William Friedkin continues to inspire a new generation of filmmakers.

With his impressive body of work and innovative approach to storytelling, Friedkin remains an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers. His unique style and ability to tackle various genres have made him a legendary figure in the world of cinema.


In conclusion, William Friedkin is a legendary filmmaker who has left an indelible mark on Hollywood. His unique storytelling style and ability to push boundaries have earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. From his early success with “The French Connection” to his groundbreaking horror film “The Exorcist,” Friedkin has consistently demonstrated his versatility and talent as a director.Whether you’re a film buff or simply curious about the man behind the camera, these 14 fascinating facts about William Friedkin shed light on his incredible career and personal life. From his unconventional filming techniques to his encounters with the paranormal, Friedkin’s life is as intriguing as the movies he creates.As we continue to celebrate the legacy of William Friedkin, it’s clear that his contributions to the film industry will forever be remembered. Through his captivating storytelling and fearless approach to filmmaking, Friedkin has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema.


1. When was William Friedkin born?

William Friedkin was born on August 29, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois.

2. What is William Friedkin’s most famous film?

William Friedkin’s most famous film is “The Exorcist,” released in 1973, which is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time.

3. Has William Friedkin won any awards?

Yes, William Friedkin has won several awards throughout his career, including an Academy Award for Best Director for “The French Connection” in 1972.

4. What other notable films has William Friedkin directed?

Aside from “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” William Friedkin has directed notable films such as “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “Sorcerer,” and “Cruising.”

5. Is William Friedkin still active in the film industry?

Yes, William Friedkin is still active in the film industry and continues to work on various projects as a director and producer.

6. Did William Friedkin have any other career besides filmmaking?

Before venturing into filmmaking, William Friedkin worked as a television director and made documentaries for television networks.

7. Has William Friedkin ever collaborated with any famous actors?

Yes, William Friedkin has collaborated with several famous actors throughout his career, including Gene Hackman, Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, and Matthew McConaughey.

8. Did William Friedkin ever serve in the military?

Yes, William Friedkin served in the United States Air Force and later drew upon his military experiences in his filmmaking, particularly in the film “Sorcerer.

9. Has William Friedkin ventured into other genres besides crime and horror?

Yes, William Friedkin has directed films in various genres, including dramas, thrillers, and action films.

10. Does William Friedkin have any upcoming projects?

At the moment, there are no upcoming projects announced for William Friedkin, but fans eagerly await his next cinematic endeavor.

William Friedkin's groundbreaking work extends beyond "The Exorcist." Car chase enthusiasts should check out facts about his iconic film "The French Connection," while crime thriller aficionados will appreciate insights into "To Live and Die in LA." For those seeking lesser-known cinematic gems, exploring trivia about Friedkin's critically acclaimed "Sorcerer" is a must. Each of these films showcases Friedkin's unique directorial style and ability to captivate audiences across various genres. Whether you're a die-hard fan or new to his work, these articles offer a fascinating glimpse into the career of one of Hollywood's most influential filmmakers.

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