Jeffrey Dean Morgan is all for you getting scared watching his latest, “The Possession,” but it’s not a horror movie — he swears. The film follows a young girl who starts displaying disturbing behavior after her family purchases an old Hebrew artifact, with Morgan playing her beleaguered father. Despite the exorcism, Morgan makes his case for “The Possession” being more of a character piece than a fright fest.

What was the initial draw for you for this project?

Everybody wants to label this as a horror movie, and I never considered it to be a horror movie going in. It actually had a story to it, and I’m so used to horror movies this day and age being found footage, shaky camera, just a f—ing visual onslaught of gore. This movie actually had a story and it reminded me of the movies that I thought were scary — “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen” — where you could become invested in those characters. This had that. [I play] a recently divorced guy trying to be a good father and sort of failing miserably with two teenage daughters. So you’ve got a family that’s kind of been troubled at the heart of this. And then of course there’s demons inside people, so there’s that. [Laughs]

Naturally. That’s kind of a given.


But it’s really a character piece. I think it really gives the opportunity for us to act, and for [director] Ole [Bornedal] to direct, and that helps a great deal when doing this kind of thing.

So many movies about possessions claim to be based on true stories.

I’m a skeptic when it comes to all that paranormal activity and craziness and possession — but in doing the little bit of research that I did for this movie, there’s some scary s— out there. You can see it on the Internet, actual exorcisms and stuff that have happened. I’ve got to wonder how that is there. I mean, it doesn’t look staged to me, and it’s superscary. But I think there’s that element that this could be a real thing. I think because of that it’s interesting subject matter.

Why do you think demonic possession continues to be such a popular topic for horror films?

Yeah, I mean people go see these movies, for sure. I don’t know, I didn’t ever really put it together, but it’s always the kid who gets possessed. And the parents are trying to, I guess, save the day — with a priest or a rabbi, I guess, in our case. But I just think a child getting possessed is ... what is more horrific for a parent than that? And I think that’s something that maybe people can somehow relate to. And what 11-year-old girl isn’t possessed?