CS Interview: Nick Castle Talks Returning to Halloween, Hook & More!
Lionsgate has just issued a brand-new 4K Blu-ray edition of John Carpenter’s original 1978 landmark slasher film Halloween, and you can purchase your copy by clicking here. In honor of the new release ComingSoon.net had the chance to chat with Nick Castle, the well-known writer/director (Dennis the Menace, The Last Starfighter) who played Michael Myers/The Shape in Carpenter’s film, and will reprise the role in Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions‘ upcoming sequel Halloween. Check out the interview below!
In David Gordon Green’s upcoming slasher sequel Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago. Curtis is joined in the film by Judy Greer who plays Karen Strode, the daughter of Curtis’ character, and Andi Matichak (Orange Is the New Black, Underground) who plays Allyson, the granddaughter of Laurie Strode.
The upcoming sequel film will be ignoring the continuity of all of the sequels in favor of telling its own story. Curtis previously appeared in four films in the series, including the 1978 original, its 1981 sequel, 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and Resurrection.
Master of horror John Carpenter will executive produce and serve as creative consultant on this film, joining forces with cinema’s current leading producer of horror, Jason Blum (Get Out, Split, The Purge, Paranormal Activity). Inspired by Carpenter’s classic, filmmakers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride crafted a story that carves a new path from the events in the landmark 1978 film. Green also directs.
The film will hit the theaters on October 19.
ComingSoon.net: After all the family movies that you made, was there a part of you that delighted in knowing you were also the most famous movie serial killer of all-time?
Nick Castle: I didn’t find it that way. It’s an interesting way to put it. But no, I didn’t have any of that kind of secret glee or something that I was somehow playing both sides of the line of entertainment here, you know, like comedy and horror. And my horror experiences, you may know, it was pretty much a fluke, so I guess I gravitated toward the light side.
CS: Right. The 1978 movie is coming out on 4K finally. Did you get to re-watch it at all recently, the original?
Castle: No, I haven’t, actually. I’ve promised myself to do that because the more I have these interviews, the more I realize my memory of the movie is from, I don’t know, the last time I saw it, maybe a decade ago or something. But yeah, I think I know the entire thing, but people keep coming up with new memories of certain scenes that I probably should know more about and maybe it’ll jog my memory on some of the questions. But I do know that John and Jamie watched the 4K version and were very impressed with it.
CS: One person that doesn’t get talked about as much in relation to “Halloween” is Debra Hill. From what you remember on the set, what do you think her biggest sort of guiding contribution to the film was?
Castle: Well, she co-wrote, first of all, and she produced it and in the full sense of the word. First of all, she’s a very talented person as a producer in terms of all the different things that a producer needs to do, in terms of putting together a crew and cast, just like John. She was a great partner with John, and then they both had the love of cinema, and also, the idea of having fun on the set. So she was very instrumental in making the movie, as I said, both as a movie and as an experience.
CS: Can you have a specific example of something?
Castle: Well, she was just on board the whole time. Like, she went on and directed a sequence of two of the girls driving in the car, and she was the one in the backseat basically doing that while John was prepping the night shoots on another scene. The individual memories of her kind of swirl into just kind of a sense of her confidence and her good nature. But as far as specific scenes, I know that she played Michael Myers in one scene.
CS: Oh really?
Castle: I think they thought it would be fun if she donned the mask in the overalls. And I’ve been told that, actually, but no one’s actually pointed out which particular scene. I’m going to have to find out and talk to Wallace. He’ll remember. He was the production designer and editor.
CS: That’s fascinating. And of course, you recently got to come back. You got the hero’s call to return to the franchise from David Gordon Green. How did they initially approach you about it?
Castle: Thehe first call I got was from my agent, Sean Clark, who represents me at autograph signings, conventions and things like that. He had been contacted by the company or by the casting people who knew he was repping the main other people that played Michael Myers in these subsequent sequels, and went out to him for his opinion. He just said, “Well, why don’t you use Nick Castle? It’s 40 years later, it’s the same guy.” And they said, “Would he be interested?” And he said, “I have no idea. Let me call him.” So Sean called me and said, “Okay, I just got a very strange request. What would you think of playing Michael Myers in the new movie?” And I went, “Oh whoa, well, I wouldn’t”—no, I just started to think about it. “Well, let me talk to them. Let me see what the deal is.” And that started the conversation with David, and we kind of together figured out what would be the best way to participate.
CS: On IMDb it’s credited that James Jude Courtney also plays the role. How does that work? What aspects do you play? What aspects does he play?
Castle: Well, yes, James Jude Courtney played the role. Let’s just make sure everyone understands that. I am there for a cameo and to kind of hand the torch to James, first of all. He does a remarkable job and I think everyone will love it. And I basically, when Jamie first sees the shape, that’s me. So it was a great honor to go down to South Carolina to be a part of the shoot. I was there for about a week and did some press work, and you know, just helped to promote the thing because they really did—especially because John was involved and I did read the script and David was gracious enough to kind of listen to suggestions. It really honored the first one and just does a very nice job. I think David and his writing partners did a wonderful job.
CS: What’s interesting to me is you and Carpenter met in film school and sort of launched your careers together. The same can be said of David and Danny McBride. Did you see anything of you and John in them?
Castle: Yes, I did. I mean, in the general sense of their age, they’re about the same age as we were. We were a little bit younger. David and Danny and those guys have a lot more of a track record going into this than we did, but you still had the feeling that you were in a family, you know? You’ve got people doing the movie. They did this in a relatively small budget, maybe not as miniscule as ours by comparison, but still, everyone’s running around doing everything. It felt like the same sense of camaraderie.
CS: My favorite movie of Carpenter’s is “The Fog,” which features Tom Atkins playing a character named after you. Do you have any fond memories of that? I assume that’s a fun in joke between you guys?
Castle: It’s pretty much an in joke. I actually named one of the characters in my first movie called “Tag: The Assassination Game” with Linda Hamilton and Bobby Carradine… One of the characters was Carpenter. So we had to play off each other sometimes like that.
CS: And you guys also had a band together, The Coupe De Villes. You and Tommy Lee Wallace and John performed the “Big Trouble in Little China” theme song, correct?
Castle: Yes. Yes, we did. That was fun, man. Not only did we perform it, but we got to do a very early version of a rock video. I know that it was pretty hilarious. Prior to that, we’d always been doing music together, even starting in film school. John and I and Tommy Wallace would do the wrap parties, too. We put together some songs and entertained the crews and the cast. So we had fun. We had fun with that.
CS: They just announced that they’re going to be doing a sequel to “Big Trouble” with Dwayne Johnson. Could you see you guys getting together to do another theme song for that movie?
Castle: Oh my god, yes. I heard a rumor about that, too, but I don’t know much about it. Is John involved with that?
CS: I don’t know if John is involved, but they said that the new film is not a remake and is a continuation of the first one.
Castle: Ah. Oh that’s interesting. Well, we’ll see, you know? We’ll see if our voices are not too scratchy after all these years, see if we can pull together something. I’d love to, of course. I made that decision around the time of “Halloween,” whether I wanted to continue trying to be a singer and rock and roll player or get into movies. So I still love it.
CS: I’d read that you were originally going to direct “Hook,” and that was like your baby for a long time, and then Spielberg kind of took it over. How would your vision of that movie have been different from what Spielberg ultimately did?
Castle: Well, that’s a good question. At one point I was going to direct. I worked on two drafts, basically, with Jim Hart, who came up with the storyline and the idea of the movie. But you know, I think in general, the thing I was surprised about his direction that I would’ve done it in a different direction is he made it very studio-bound and closed. I think maybe he was going for something more like “Wizard of Oz” in terms of the style of the movie. I was thinking of it as very realistic within the context of something like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”. So it was open and it was in real locations, etc. So that would’ve been one of the major differences. Also, some casting changes, casting things, although when I was still on board we did go out to Robin and Dustin at the time, and that’s when the transition happened.
CS: Wasn’t Kevin Kline originally attached?
Castle: No, he was somebody that was really number one on my list. I thought he would’ve been a great Captain Hook. Yeah, Dustin took it in a totally different direction, and I thought of him as more of a swashbuckler.
CS: Dustin brought more of a Terry Thomas kind of vibe to it.
Castle: Yeah, he did.
CS: “Hook” is coming out on 4K also pretty soon and it’s interesting because I think even Spielberg is a little bit ashamed of it. I think he has some misgivings about it, but I guess it has a big following, especially among kids who kind of grew up with it.
Castle: Oh yeah, a lot of people love that movie. I get that a lot at some of these convention signings. They bring that the poster and what not, even when it’s more for “Halloween” and horror films it’ll still comes up from time to time.
CS: Now of course, you and John famously co-wrote the first “Escape from New York” together. I was wondering, were there ever any other talks between you guys to collaborate on other screenplays?
Castle: No, not really. I went my own way pretty soon after that. “Escape” really helped launch my career as a writer/director, so from there I just kind of took off on my own. I was going in a different direction. I’d love to do another classic with John, though. When you interview him, tell him that I want to work with him.
CS: “Nick Castle says he wants another go.”
Castle: Yes, exactly.