A FOTF exclusive interview with the man tasked with bringing Michael Myers back to the screen in Halloween
Everybody knows how much the ‘Halloween‘ movie series means to me. How much I love the character of Michael Myers. How dearly I hold the original film and its first sequel to my heart. There’s no denying I’m one of the biggest Michael Myers fans in the world. I have in my collection almost every figure ever produced for the character including the Rob Zombie films versions. There’s something about the character I find myself loving. Whether it’s because of his mystique, because of his emotionless and unrelenting and unexplained killing spree or purely because he was the first horror movie villain to truly scare the life out of me, there’s just something about him that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Take last years reboot/ sequel, also entitled simply ‘Halloween‘. Ever since the 1981 sequel, ‘Halloween II‘, the character, even though I love him, had simply stopped being scary. He was no longer the dark reaper figure that scared me all those years ago in the 1970s, he was just a token masked killer, a throwaway disposable monster ripped from all those films that ripped him off originally. But here, he was back. Here, he was scary again. Here, he was the Michael Myers that scared me all those years ago. Here, finally, was the character I loved back to his glorious best. In part, this was down to the original Myers, Nick Castle returning for a brief cameo as my favourite movie serial killer, bringing a great continuity to the film but the major majority was all due to the fantastic acting prowess of the new Michael, the new torch holder. Here was an actor who got IT. Here was an actor who slipped into Myers’ boiler suit and mask and portrayed him as he should be portrayed. Here was an actor who WANTED to bring the character back to his frightening best. That man was James Jude Courtney.
At this year’s London Film And Comic-Con, held this past July, I had the honour of sitting down with Mr Courtney himself and conducting this exclusive Future Of The Force interview. To be quite frank and honest with you all, I was petrified. Here was a man that had made me fearful of Michael Myers again. Here was a man that I admired. Here was a man that I thought I would never meet or see in the flesh, let alone get the chance to talk to. During this interview you are about to read, myself will be referred by as ‘C.R’ and Mr Courtney by ‘J.J.C’.
James Jude Courtney | London Film & Comic-Con
Carl Roberts: James, it’s an honour to meet you. It has been announced that there is going to be two Halloween sequels, ‘Halloween Kills’ and ‘Halloween Ends’.
James Jude Courtney: Right.
C.R: I have read a tweet from the original Myers actor, Nick Castle, saying that he would be returning to the franchise but you yourself are the man who holds the torch now. Can you confirm that you will be coming back as Michael Myers or have they asked you to come back as Michael Myers? Or, for obvious reasons, can you not speak about it?
J.J.C: Wow! Well, my answer would be, Trust Nick! (Laughs). Nick is the granddaddy, Nick passed the baton but we are still gonna run a race, still gonna run some races together.
C.R: That’s awesome. What was it like actually putting on the mask, that iconic mask for the very first time?
J.J.C: You know, man, it was like completing a circuit. I had done all of the internal work so it was never a thought process but the first time I put the mask on, Literally, David (Gordon Green) and the writers and the director, the producers, the stunt coordinator and Chris Nelson came in on the set the day before the first day of shooting, we were rehearsing that long tracking shot and when they walked and flew in from L.A, They came in with a large Haliburton, opened it up, pulled the mask out, we all went to a private room so nobody could see, he put the mask on me and collectively, everyone in the room went ‘ARRHH!’. And for me, internally, I was like (makes buzzing, electrical sound), like the circuit was connected. All the internal vibrational work that I did to create that character, it was complete. And so, every time I put that mask on, that was the trigger.
C.R: How hard was it to have that make put over your eye to portray Myers’ injury?
J.J.C: Oh man! Every day, I got better and better at depth perception but the first few days were tough, I had to look downstairs. The hardest part was I did that bathroom fight scene, like, the second day without the eye and, you know, I’m a fighter, a martial artist so you track the punch, you track the weapon but I couldn’t track that weapon, that tyre iron, that was swinging from right to left, I had to catch it halfway in and dodge it so. But by the end of it, it was almost like I had two eyes.
C.R: Wow! That is amazing. How did they approach you to play the character?
J.J.C: So, Ron Hutchingson, the stunt coordinator, when he read the script, called David Green and Malek Akkad and said “Look, guys, this script is different. You need a guy with really deep acting chops and he’s got to be a really good stuntman”. And David Green said “Well, he’s also gotta be 6ft 3″, Two hundred pounds and in his 60s, do you know anybody?” And Ron was like, ” Yeah, I know one guy”. So, I got the call. They were shooting in South Carolina, I had just moved back to South Carolina fortuitously so they called me down to Charleston to be put on tape, to put me on tape. I got out into the parking lot, I hadn’t even pulled out of the parking lot, I get a call from Blumhouse in Los Angeles saying “Hey, are you available?”. I was like ” Yeah, I’m available”. I hadn’t even gotten to the freeway and they called me back and said “Can you come back? David wants to meet you” and as far as I know, I’m the only one they ever seriously looked at.
C.R: You obviously worked alongside Jamie Lee Curtis.
C.R: How was it working with Jamie Lee Curtis on set?
J.J.C: You know Man? She’s a consummate professional. She’s incredibly talented. She’s a fully realised human being. She’s an empowered female. She’s the woman that these young women are aspiring to be so working with her was an absolute joy, just an absolute joy.
C.R: And did you work or relate to John Carpenter? Did you meet with him or work with him?
J.J.C: He showed up on set once. I mean, he gave the film his blessing and that’s all he needed to do. You know? He’s a salty old dog, he showed up, made a few wisecracks and then left! (Laughs)
C.R: The legend that he is.
C.R: Did you sustain any injuries while filming the final fight scene? I mean, we do see Michael lose two of his fingers to the shotgun blast and get beaten around part of the time. Did you suffer any personal injuries?
J.J.C: Personal injuries? Oh, dude, I got a hematoma on my left butt cheek from when I took the squib hit on my left shoulder. I spun around and I was supposed to go down to a squat, pop back up and then walk, you know, fall off camera and then get back in frame. Well, I took the hit so hard that the battery pack and the radio pack for the squib hit was on my left butt cheek. I hit so hard, it hit my soup bone and that caused a hematoma so my left butt cheek was about an inch higher than my right butt cheek and it took about a week and a half to come out and my entire left butt cheek was black. I had bruises on my right arm that took about a week to come out, I bruised my ribs and my head was cut like three different times and they just superglued it. Yeah, it was fun, man! It was a lot of fun! (Laughs) It was awesome!
C.R: A perfect job for a stuntman by the sounds of it! A dream come true!
J.J.C: Aww man! I mean, Dude, it was awesome!
C.R: Were any of the cast actually physically scared of you on set?
J.JC: Oh, no, no, no! When I was in character, in the mask, I was always off by myself, I didn’t talk to anybody or relate to anybody. When the mask is on, I’m in. When the mask came off, it was back to me and I was the same guy you’re talking to right now.
C.R: Cool. So you didn’t really scare Virginia Gardiner as her performance as Vicky was absolutely outstanding in her death scene with you? She looked absolutely petrified in that sequence!
J.J.C: Well, like when we were working, Rhian (Rees) will say, she was scared to death! But she’s a brilliant actress, that’s where she had to go. So the things when you are acting, when you’re working with really, really talented people, you’re creating a reality so your body is going to respond viscerally to that reality you’re co-creating together. So, she and I created those moments together so when I dropped the teeth, she’s in that moment. BOOM! Man, she’s on! And that’s one of the times I got my head cut. She was fighting so hard when I had her by the leg, that she yanked my head right down onto the toilet paper dispenser and just gashed and it was like “Oh man!”.
C.R: Finally, on a private and personal note, can I just shake your hand once again. I’ve been following the Halloween films since they came out so it’s been over forty years. I loved Nick Castle as ‘The Shape’ but your performance as Michael Myers brought back the terror and I must thank you for that. It was fantastic.
J.J.C: Thank you, man. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
As I stated before, I was so nervous at meeting James Jude Courtney but my nerves and fears were totally unfounded. James Jude Courtney is a fantastic and enthusiastic man and the complete opposite of his onscreen persona. Nothing was too much for him, he went out of his way to make me feel at ease and to answer my questions. I felt like I could have sat and chatted with him all day but didn’t want to take up too much of his precious time. I appreciated the time he spent talking with me that he took from his busy schedule. I witnessed first hand his genuine warmth, hospitality and his interaction with the fans who came to his table was faultless. Nothing was too much trouble and he interacted and chatted with the fans at length, listening to their stories, posing for photographs with them and sending home all that visited him with a fantastic sense of happiness and, like me, pure exhilaration. It was a complete honour to meet him and to chat with him in person.
I wish to express my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to James Jude Courtney for allowing this fans request for an interview and for taking the time to speak with me at the event. Never in my life did I think I would actually sit down, talk with and shake the hand of a man I respect and admire.
My thanks also go to Showmasters for such a fantastic event. The hospitality they and all their staff showed to me and the rest of Team Future Of The Force was exemplary and it was an honour to be there as an invited member of the press. In addition, they allowed me the chance of a lifetime to meet Mr Courtney. And for that, I can never thank them enough.
The old adage says you should never meet your heroes. I met one of mine. And proved that the old adage is completely wrong. Because James Jude Courtney is one of the nicest guys you could ever possibly hope to meet. And for just a shining moment, made Michael Myers just that little bit more human and with a lot more warmth.
Until next time.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones and Horror movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!