Obviously you play the original Michael Myers and you're coming back in the reboot - how does it feel being back in the franchise and coming back to that character?
It's really fun! I'm having a great time, first of all, the experience itself of going to South Carolina here in the United States where the writer and director live, and decided to map the movie, was a lot of fun. I had never been that part of the country, and seeing Jamie Lee again after a while, and and the whole experience reminded me actually of when I was young and with John, and doing our movie. They had that same kind of sense of young people hangin’ and having fun doing movies, so it was kind of a little bit deja vu!
I read recently that you didn't audition for the role of Michael Myers, it was more something that happened to you. Do you want to maybe expand on the story of how you got into Halloween?
Well first of all John Carpenter was a classmate of mine at the University of Southern California Film School, and we spent a lot of time working on films, and singing songs, and doing all kinds of stuff. We were good buddies and a small group of about a half a dozen of us just kept in touch all the time after our work at film school - and then I found out he was going to do Halloween - coincidentally they were going to shoot the movie about a half a mile from my house.
I said “John, I'm gonna stick on the set as long as you're gonna shoot down here,” and he said “Okay here, put this on” [laughing]. So that's how I got the role! As simple as that.
Since you’ve just had the mask stuck on you, would you say that you have a headspace to get into the character? Do you bring a direction to him - or is it just a case of wearing the William Shatner mask and walking around looking intimidating?
It's more the latter actually! You know, there was not a lot of deep discussions about the nature of horror, or the nature of cruelty, or why someone would do something like this. It had more to do with, “Go over to that side of the street and walk this way, tilt your head that way.” John did a lot of puppeteering for me as an actor, and that's the other amazing thing about this, one of the most famous characters in horror history and of course you give it to someone that can't even act. There’s something ironic about that.
Well at least you’ve got the mask, so you're all good! Is it particularly sweaty in there? Is it uncomfortable?
The production designer Tommy Wallace picked it right off of a store shelf, and then modified it. What they put on me was what I got, and it was a little loose so that made it more tolerable, it wasn't a problem.
This upcoming film - you mentioned reuniting with Jamie Lee Curtis, and I know John Carpenter is the executive producer - what was it like reuniting with these people and seeing them again for the film that's set to take place 40 years on?
It was just a hoot! It was so much fun. The first day I got on the set, Jamie saw me before I saw her, and I heard this scream of “Castle!” She came running over, we hugged each other and she just looked at me and said “Is this nuts or what?”
You don't expect anything like this - after 40 years, to relive something like this! It was a tremendous amount of fun, the crew and the cast were great. We had so much fun being part of it, and it was an honour that they wanted to include me.
Would you say it's important for franchises like Halloween to have a place in modern cinema, to be brought back, and to celebrate all of these older slasher villains?
I'm not important to this, but I think these people did take it seriously in terms of finding what was special in the franchise and then using it to create some viable entertainment for folks that’s in a new age.
Certainly a lot of what motion picture people do now is look for franchise opportunities, but they could turn into a bunch of junk. You never know how it's going to come out ‘til it comes out, and I haven't seen the whole movie put together - I've seen parts of it and it looks fantastic. The intention of this was on the high ground, I appreciated that and I think part of that is John being involved and a big part of it is David Gordon Green and the way he's leading the troops here.
Would you say that horror films are different now from what they used to be - or at least, different from the original Halloween - and what do you think are the differences between them?
I think the audience expects a little more graphic horror now, and I'm sure that the filmmakers were then debating how much to give and lean into that - and they do some, I know. But one of the things that they were very clear on what they wanted to do was maintain the suspense that is generated from the way that the original one was done, because there wasn't any blood in the original, there's no spurting blood. There’s a lot of death, and brutal death, but it was done in a way that reflects the sensibility from that era.
I think what we'll find on this one is the nice combination of bringing it into this era, bringing what expectations there are, but also bringing what’s best from the first one which is the sense of suspense. Sometimes these things just rely on their shock value, but I mean - let's just face it though, some of the stuff that's being done now is wonderful, it's really good stuff, and it’s being done in the tradition of the original Halloween in a way.
Are you a particular horror movie fan, or did you kind of fall into Halloween? I know you’re a writer and a director as well, so what’s your stance on the whole horror genre, and what are your favourites?
Over the course of my career, besides Halloween, I wrote a couple scripts that never got done that were based in the genre. I like all genres though, my favourite films go from Rules of the Game, to Meet Me in St. Louis, to Psycho, so it goes all over the place.
As far as horror is concerned, I only got really into it most recently when the Asian crop came out a few years ago - all that spooky stuff in dreams and ghosts, those are the things that kind of freak me out. Ghosts freak me out, I love those! For a guy that was a big slasher guy I'm not a big slasher film fan.
But ghosts get you?
Ghosts are the things that get me! It gets into my Catholic upbringing somehow.
Back to Halloween and slashers - what would be your favourite like kill from the franchise? Especially considering maybe it's not so much to your taste, what's the sort of thing that you think is most effective from the Halloween films, and would be one that you've performed, or another Michael has performed?
I'm asked quite a bit about what my favourite scene is in the original one, and I guess I have to say one of my favourites is the way he killed this kid in the kitchen. He lifts him up by his neck and then stabs him and pins into the wall, and then kind of admires his work by tilting his head. I thought that was pretty creepy, and even though I had nothing to do with it - John was the one behind the scenes telling me Nick tilt your head to the left, I didn't even know what he was doing - I thought that creeped me out, I think it’s a real memorable scene in the franchise.
I've only seen the other films maybe once, and only because I started doing horror conventions! People started asking me about the sequel so I really need to do a little bit more study to have well-informed opinion of the rest of the franchise.
Is it particularly strange being known and applauded for being Michael Myers when you played him in this one film and there's another 10 in the series - and obviously you’re writing, directing, making your own films - is it really strange being known as Michael Myers even with all these other factors contributing to your career?
Oh yeah, I'm sure that's what I'll be remembered for when you know I finally kick, which is annoying because all I did was put on a mask [laughing], whereas every other movie I wrote or directed I put so much sweat and effort into! But that being said, yes it is strange. I resisted for many years going on this circuit of horror conventions, because I just thought that unlike someone like Robert Englund, where you see him, he really can act, there's some value to his performance, I feel like I was cheating the fans and taking their autograph money.
So I didn't do it for a long time, and then I decided to do it once, and I just thought the fans just had so much joy and fun meeting the actual guy behind the mask, that you just had to go with it.
So what are your feelings about the new Halloween film, and what comes next for you?
The continuation of my retirement! Which I'm having a lovely time not having the pressure of working on movies, as much as I love them and get a lot of love from them. So I'm fine, I have a lot of side activities here that have nothing to do with movie business and I enjoy that.
As far as the new one is concerned I have terrific high hopes for it, like I said before, I really respect the filmmakers and I think they took the thing on with the respect and honour that it deserved and came up with some great ideas. I've seen a lot of it, and everything I've seen has just been wonderful! I love the new cast of kids, they're very talented, and the supporting cast he put together was really, really excellent, so everything is earmarked for a successful movie and it's getting a lot of great hype.
I have high hopes for it and I just wish the team success!
The original Halloween is available now on 4K Blu-Ray and the new Halloween hits cinemas on October 19th.