Linda Blair, Supernatural
Supernatural fans are in for a special post-Halloween treat when horror-movie legend Linda Blair guest-stars on this week's episode (tonight at 9 pm, on the CW). Now, just to be clear, even though she did star in The Exorcist and this show does often deal with demons, Blair is not playing an otherworldly baddie. In fact, her character is a nonbeliever detective who has a bit of a run-in with the Winchester boys. TVGuide.com invited the delightful actress to share some details about her guest gig, and also to fill us in on the cause that is so close to her heart.

TVGuide.com: Hi, how have you been doing?
Linda Blair: I'm fine. But I run a dog rescue, and I just wish they were fine. Twenty years ago we didn't have to do this, and now we do, and it is just so sad.

TVGuide.com: It really is. So how did you go from doing that to Supernatural?
Blair: I have a friend at the TV show Extra, and they are doing a three-part series profile on a known actor [in this case me]. I had put my career on hold to start my foundation, to rescue and help with animals and health issues in America. [The people at Extra] watch me work so hard, and they know people are asking when they are going to see me again, so they went to see what show was willing to write something cool for me as an actor's piece, not just a quick guest appearance. Extra has been following me for the last couple of months and profiling what I do with the animals, including the Katrina animals that I rescued down in New Orleans, and of course talking about my career, what it's like to go back to work after doing this other work with animals, which is so physical and hard and emotional. Supernatural wrote a one-hour special for me specifically. There are no demons in this show — that was one of my specifics — and I think they did a remarkable job. I was really touched when [series creator] Eric Kripke pitched this idea. I just looked at him and said, "Oh my god. You really listened to my request."

TVGuide.com: So then, who are you playing?
Blair: The boys were caught red-handed in a murder scene, and I am a nonbeliever. I play a detective — until something happens to me that makes me have to go to them for help. I watch the show and I'm a fan, but I didn't realize how many fans write in. And [the writers] actually read their e-mails and try to answer them, so they used my character to sort of answer some things.

TVGuide.com: Were you skeptical when you heard the show's name?
Blair: I turned it down a year ago. I knew the show and was a fan, but didn't think it was appropriate for me because Hollywood is so difficult, and I have a very clean slate now from the last 20 years. I did a lot of stuff on the Fox Family Channel on S Club 7 to pick up a teenage audience. Then I did Scariest Places [on Earth], which was a one-time deal that turned into a series. I just took the last couple of years to build the foundation and do what I thought was really important. It has been quite a journey. For women over 40 in our business, it is really difficult to find roles, except in the last year. There's Desperate Housewives, which is so fantastic. And Grey's Anatomy, well, they aren't 40, but they aren't teenagers. I'm even a fan of the new Fashion House, and I am so proud of Bo Derek. She's beautiful and natural, and her work is so wonderful. She is acting her pants off. But work doesn't come very easily, and if you aren't in a hit movie or a hit TV series, [producers] continue to ask, "What have you done?" They don't remember two or three years ago. My friends at Extra felt that I should be working, that I deserved to work, and they decided to make it happen. I'm very, very touched.

TVGuide.com: Is there a chance you could return to Supernatural at some point?
Blair: That's up to [the producers] and the audience. It is really hard to say. Sometimes I know they bring certain people back, they could if they really wanted, but is it necessary or will the audience want it? I don't know. I can't predict. My character lives in this one area, and they are on the road all the time. "Detective Ballard, we need your help, please." "Yes, I'll get my broom, and off I will come." [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Are you sick of people asking about The Exorcist, since it happened when you were so young?
Blair: I try to explain to people that I am proud of the film, and it is what has allowed me to have a platform to do [the 1970s TV-]movies like Born Innocent and Sarah T. I am so proud of those movies, they changed prime-time television way back when. They were when television movies were huge in another era, when we didn't have cable and what we have today. I got to do movies that changed people's lives and made a difference and made them get on a better path, but I feel like, 30 years later, I still need to get people on a better path. This is why I do what I am doing through the foundation (at LindaBlairWorldHeart.org), which might guide them to be better people. I am proud of The Exorcist, but it is not who I am 30 years later. I wish that people, like with Anthony Hopkins, they would say, "OK, he played this horrible monster who eats people, but it is just a character and now we're going to put him in a drama or a comedy."

Send your comments on this feature to online_insider@tvguide.com.