Michael Myers is returning in a big way this fall. Not only will the iconic slasher kill once again in the upcoming Halloween sequel, in theaters this October, but John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween recently hit 4K Ultra Blu-ray, and the classic has never looked better. At the center of all this madness is actor-turned-director Nick Castle, who played The Shape 40 years ago only to return to the role this Fall. We recently caught up with Nick, who pulls the mask off his truly iconic horror legend, offering new insight into Halloween both old and new.
In the original 1978 Halloween, Nick Castle was asked to climb into a blue jumpsuit and pull on a William Shatner Star Trek mask that had been painted white, and stalk some unsuspecting teen meat through the streets and homes of Haddonfield. There had never been a slasher quite like this before, as Michael Myers arrived on the horror scene years before Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger would begin racking up a body count.
Nick Castle created a particular archetype that has been utilized in gore flicks ever since. The silent stalker, a knife-wielding maniac with a lust for blood that has gone unmatched. It’s been exactly 40 years since Nick has walked in Michael’s well-worn black work boots. Now, he’s strapping them on once again, in his final showdown with Laurie Strode on October 19th.
To get everyone psyched and ready for the killer’s timely return, Lionsgate is releasing the 4K Ultra HD version of John Carpenter’s Halloween for the first time. It will be in stores starting September 25, and the movie looks spectacular. It is also packed with plenty of special features including an audio commentary with John Carpenter and his leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis. The release also contains bonus footage only seen in the TV version, along with featurettes, the original trailer, TV and radio spots. No self-respecting Halloween fan should go without it.
We recently caught up with Nick Castle, who has become a prolific director in his own right. He’s the man behind the cult classic sci-fi adventure The Last Starfighter and The Boy Who Could Fly. But everyone remembers him most as the original Michael Myers.
Nick opens up about taking on the role of Michael Myers, and what it’s meant to his career. He recounts what it’s like to wear the mask, and how it felt pulling on that costume for the first time in 40 years. He only has a cameo in Halloween, but it’s perhaps the most important scene in the entire movie. He will appear on screen, in the mask, when Laurie and Michael come face to face for the first time in over four decades. He also gives his signature head tilt. Castle also provided the ADR for Michael’s breathing in the new David Gordon-Green directed movie.
Before you see Halloween in theaters and revisit the original on 4K this week, which is also getting a 40th Anniversary rerelease in theaters soon, go behind the terrifying persona of Michael Myers, and learn what it’s like to become a natural born killer.
With the level of detail in this new 4K scan of the film, this may be the clearest picture we’ve ever gotten of the original film. What are you most excited for fans to see that they may have not seen before?
Nick Castle: Oh, dear. Good question. Anything that enhances the sense of reality in the picture makes it scarier, probably. It’s a thing that John did so well there, putting this in a real world. And it’s very familiar. In that sense, psychologically speaking, it could have some effect. Even as sharp as it is, you still won’t be able to see me through the mask. That’s a problem. No. Because you don’t want to see me acting, really. There’s another thing, I’ve been asked this before. If it’s this sharp, will you miss…There is a scene near the end where Dean had the great idea to dial up the light in the shadows of Michael. And he is standing right behind Laurie. But your eyes are getting accustomed to the dark, and that idea. I’m wondering if that will be ruined by 4K. Because you’ll be able to see into the shadows a little bit more.
Speaking of those eyes being seen through the mask…In this new movie, did they try to cast someone that had the same look as you, in the eyes? Especially since you’re both playing the same character, in the same movie. How did casting the new Michael kind of work in that direction, considering you both have to wear a mask?
Nick Castle: You know, they put prosthetics over his left eye. The one that gets stabbed. For any shot you’d see into the mask. They took that from the original. That’s kind of neat. Beyond that, I don’t know why or how they did any…What they took into account in terms of seeing inside of the mask, was that missing eye. That was clearly something they wanted to make sure they did.
What were your first thoughts when you put the costume on back in 1978? And what were your immediate thoughts when you got back in the costume in 2018?
Nick Castle: 40 years ago, I don’t necessarily remember crawling into the costume and putting on the mask, other than the general impressions of it. The suit was something they fitted to me. And the mask was somewhat loose, because they pulled it off the shelf. It wasn’t a problem in terms of…A bit claustrophobic, you might think when you put something like that on. That was fine. The new one? I remember putting on the suit for the first time in the costume trailer, and it was tight. Did you guys forget that I just gained 40 pounds since 40 years ago? They scrambled around and found a bigger size. Jim is a big and tall guy, too. So, he fills it out pretty good. The mask, that was interesting. I put on the mask, and at first I had a beard. And the mask looked very round shaped. I thought, ‘My god, that looks wrong somehow.’ So we shaved my beard. It looked a lot better then. It’s interesting, we, [me and Jim], looked together in the mirror with the mask on, and you could tell the difference. So, we’re going, ‘We’re distant cousins.’ It’s interesting itself how the mask, on a certain armature, on a certain face, can change.
Sean Clark apparently had a small hand in getting you back into the role with Blumhouse. How did that happen?
Nick Castle: Yeah. That is right. Sean has been my agent, representing me at conventions and Comic-Cons, and things like that, signing autographs. He was approached by either the casting people from the movie, or maybe Ryan at Blumhouse. About which Michael Myers…He represents many of the Michael Myers, if not all of them. You know? In the eventual sequels. When he was asked who would be good for the new one, he said, ‘Wait a minute. It’s 40 years later, why don’t you use Nick.’ He said they didn’t even think about that because they didn’t think I’d want to do it. So he called me up and said, ‘Hey, Nick. I got a weird idea for you. What about playing Michael in the new Halloween?’ I stopped and went, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Yeah, they are thinking of it. How do you feel about it.’ I said, ‘Oh, that could be fun.’ So, we gave it a nice thought, and talked about what I was interested in doing. What he could put together that made sense. And I wound up doing it. And it was a ball. I had a blast on set. It was so much fun.
Laurie is no longer the sister of Michael Myers. How did you feel about that plot point when it was introduced in the sequel in 1981 and are you glad to see it go in the new movie?
Nick Castle: Well. Yeah. The one thing from this, the take away is that there are no sequels in-between. It’s the continuation of a character that has no motivation really, than he wants…Whoever he stumbles upon is up for this deadly deed. That being said, there is a lot of psychology that is inherent in what you bring to this movie, as an audience, and what John thinks. If you are a little kid who stabs his sister after she had sex, what does that say about your character and who you want to kill? But John very clearly didn’t want to go into the psychoanalysis of this character early on, and after the fact, that this guy now, 40 years later, is going to do some unfinished business. I don’t know if there is anything more to it than that. As far as the sequels are concerned? I didn’t start seeing these sequels until I started doing these Comic-Cons. People kept asking me about it. I hadn’t seen them, so I raced through it all in a couple of days to see what they were. And frankly, that was the wrong way to do it. It wasn’t fair to the movies. I don’t have a real solid idea of what they are trying to say or where it’s going. So, that is as much as I can say about that.
What kind of direction did John Carpenter give you on that first movie? Were there specifics in play, or did you just get in the mask and jumpsuit, and that kind of took over? That’s such a powerful image. It seems like it would have a mind of its own.
Nick Castle: The fact of the matter is, my appearance in the first one was so off the cuff. It was to fill a void. John needed someone to walk around with a mask on. John has mentioned how much he liked my walk. Just the fact that, it was whatever I normally do. The direction on the first one was nil. It was really just, ‘Go across the street and walk towards me.’ In fact, I have mentioned this before in interviews, before I did the first shot, John said, ‘Walk across the street and walk across here.’ I said, ‘John, this is the first shot of this character, what do you want me to do?’ And he said, ‘Just go across the street and walk.’ It was night, the sun was coming up, so he tells me to just walk. It was…If there is a lesson to any of this, it’s that sometimes things happen for no reason, and you have the right elements at the right time. I think my size at the time, I was only 150 pounds, about six feet tall, thin, angular, and whatever what I did, I ended up walking slow and being methodical. But without being robotic. All those choices, I guess, were important to having a certain amount of mystery. Now, of course, in this new one, where he is bigger and strong, and a little more filled out…So we’ll see how it works. From what I’ve seen It still looks tremendous. But I think what might have been missing in the other ones is that they kept getting taller and stronger, and taller and stronger, until you got to Rob Zombie, where you got to really tall and really strong. Maybe what was kind of unusual for this kind of killer is that he could have been anybody. And that part of it, and the mystery, is what people took from this strange character.
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do with the mask on?
Nick Castle: Actually, the most difficult time I had was not in the mask. The first time you see Michael Myers, he doesn’t have his mask yet, and he’s jumping onto the back of a car. from the insane asylum. Why I say it was the most difficult one, John decided at four in the morning that it would be a rain scene. And all I was in was a hospital gown. And it was freezing. That was the worst. There was never any problem with my ability to see and take direction, and work through the holes of the mask. John puppeteered the character more than me, in terms of making decisions. Turn right, turn right, go slower. You know? Things like that. The mystery was really in the execution. And how it all wound up was a lot of factors and combinations, and then the amazing music he put together for it.
Halloween 3 was a complete departure from the original, which didn’t include Michael Myers… Is there anything you’d like to see the franchise do with or without the character?
Nick Castle: I skipped over that sequel when I went back to watch these other ones. But that sequel is one I knew better then these other sequels. Because Tommy Lee Wallace directed it. I wanted to support him back in the day, so I had already seen it. And I think it’s a good film. A lot of people love it. And I am so happy for Tommy, too. Because he now gets a lot of love for that thing. The intention, I think, when they did it, was this would become a new anthology series. That it would be different stories. There is something to be said about that. But the character of Michael Myers is so iconic now. You won’t drag this franchise back in that direction if this is a hit, believe me. Somehow, he will continue to survive, hopefully in movies that are worthy to the original. I have all the hope and confidence that this new one will do that. Having read the script, having been part of it, part of which I was in, and I did all the breathing ADR for The Shape, so I got to see all of his scenes It looks good.
How did Halloween influence your future directorial efforts, because what a lot of fans might not know is, you’ve directed quite a few cult movies, I think I’ve seen every one of them.
Nick Castle: How it influenced me is that I got to sit around on a set with John Carpenter. I did it once then, and then I did it again on Escape From New York. And it was very helpful in terms of how to do my own work, and it demystified the idea of starting a big movie. Which is one of the big problems when you are starting out. The idea of acting on the first Halloween, it didn’t really apply to my eventual work, working with actors. Because John was doing something with me that you don’t normally do with actors. You don’t tell them to look right, look left, tilt your head, unless its something so specific for an off camera scene. John has been such a help in my career that anything I can do to help with these releases, and doing sequels, I’m always happy to do it. If it weren’t for him, I certainly wouldn’t be having this conversation with you.
Did you get to do all the press photos? I know the one big photo that went around with the head tilt is you. Did you stand in for the posters and other promotional material?
Nick Castle: Oh? I’m looking at the new poster for the first time. I’m seeing part of the mask. I’m sure they did the publicity stills, maybe with James, but it could have just been the mask itself.
Nick Castle returns as Michael Myers in Halloween, slashing its way to theaters October 19. The original Halloween is now available on 4K Ultra HD from Lionsgate right now. So don’t let the boogeyman get you, get out there and pick up a copy before its too late.