Former James Bond Timothy Dalton is on the trail of a conspiracy. The actor believes there's something fishy about The Exorcist being re-released mere weeks before the premiere of his new Showtime flick, Possessed. Debuting Sunday at 8 pm on the cable network, Possessed tells the true story of the only Catholic Church-sanctioned exorcism on record — the same tale that was fictionalized in The Exorcist.

"When I first heard that, I thought, "Oh Jesus, do they have to?" Dalton tells TV Guide Online. "I bet they found out [we] were doing the real story and thought, 'Hey, no one has seen The Exorcist in a long time, why don't we get it out and make some money.' And they were right, weren't they? They did make some money."

Indeed, the classic spooker has raked in another $30 million in its first three weeks of re-release. Dalton, however, doesn't think The Exorcist's popularity will be the death of Possessed. "It could only help," he says. "If people are fascinated with The Exorcist, then they've got to be fascinated by the real story."

But if those same fans tune in to Possessed expecting to see spinning heads and levitating adolescents, they're bound to be disappointed. "We didn't want to be scarier than The Exorcist because that was a horror movie dealing with the subject of an exorcism," explains Dalton, who plays the priest who performs the ritual. "We're actually taking this real exorcism and trying to give it to you with all its complexity, hoping to provoke you into wondering what it was really all about."

Should Possessed develop an Excorcist-type following, Dalton realizes he'll still be known first and foremost as 007. "I think it's inevitable really," hedges the Brit, who starred in The Living Daylights and License to Kill before passing the spy torch to Pierce Brosnan. "But it was a long time ago. I look at them now as a part of my history."

And although Dalton was contractually bound to do a third Bond film, a messy lawsuit in the early '90s, between MGM and Sony over rights, triggered his early escape — and he couldn't have been happier. "I didn't want to spend the rest of my life doing James Bond," he asserts. "I was happy to have done it, but I didn't want to do anymore.

"I felt enormously liberated," he adds about cutting the ties of his Bond-age. "I felt thrilled and free — both to have done them and to have left them."