Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Trick or Treating at the Myers' - An interview with Tony 'Michael Myers' Moran

The date was the 31st October, I grabbed my broom and my pointy hat and called the children... We loved Halloween and hell, you can't have Halloween without trick or treat...

My daughter, pulled her sheet over her head, sweet, I thought, my little ghost... I called my son to come down, he wanted to keep his costume a secret and had kept me guessing all week... What possible scary costume could he come up with with just an old Captain Kirk mask and some white paint... But then he appeared at the top of the stairs and I swear, for a second my blood stopped pumping round my body... There was my precious little boy dressed as Michael Myers... 

The film "Halloween" was made in back 1978, during the heyday of the horror genre and tells the story of Michael Myers, the living embodiment of the bogeyman, a silent, remorseless killer, incarcerated in a mental institution as a kid for killing his sister... He can't be stopped, he can't be killed, there is no escaping the wrath of Michael Myers... And here he was standing in front of me... I shook the feeling off... No this was my son, not that killing machine.

After an hour or so our buckets were full and there was just one house to go... The last house on the left on Lampkin Lane, I didn't know the owners but the pumpkin outside the door invited us to call, but something inside me screamed run... 

We rang the bell... after a minute a shadow appeared through the frosted glass of the door, a familiar shadow... The door swung open and the kids shouted "Trick or Treat!" and held out there buckets, the man held out a bowl of sweets and the children readily made their choices. I studied the face of the man at the door... Was it? Could it be? I must be... It was! It was Tony Moran, the original Michael Myers... Oh my god! I took this as a sign, I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I asked him a couple of questions... He said sure and I started...

The first one was a no brainer. So, Tony, How did you get the part of Michael Myers? 
 "My agent gave me an interview time and I talked to John Carpenter and Irwin Yablans for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then later that afternoon I found out that I got the job."

Cool, So what did you do then?
"I celebrated by going to a pizza joint."

You were directed by the great John Carpenter, What direction did he give you to play the part of Michael?
"He didn't give me much except that we both agreed that I was going to be feeling kind of lost without the mask on."

And is it true that you only got paid $250 dollars for playing the part?

I felt a bit bad for taking so much of his candy...

My son chipped in and from behind his mask he asked, It was revealed that Michaels mask was in fact a inside out Captain Kirk mask, like this one... Were you aware of this?
He answered quite simply
Oh... Ok... I did hear that another choice of mask was a clown with red hair... 
"I don't ever remember hearing that..."
Do you think this would have changed the feel of the movie? 
"...but yes it would of definitely changed it."

Did you keep a Michael Myers mask?
"No I didn't and I have no idea what happened to it."

I shot him a look, that was enough of his questions, I had more of my own to ask...

You only appear in the first film? (Apart from the recap in the 2nd) didn't you fancy another?
"Because I didn't want to wear a mask again. Plus they figured it would've been cheaper to use a stuntman than an actor."

What was it like working with a young Jamie Lee Curtis? It was her first film, but her parentage must have made her amazing to meet and work with? I heard that she thought she was terrible and would be sacked at anytime, did you ever notice this about her?
"It was great working with her. She's very down to earth. Great sense of humor."
I heard that she thought she was terrible and would be sacked at anytime, did you ever pick up on this?
"No, I didn't notice that about her."

The film went on to make a staggering 8 sequels, did you ever believe that the film would become such a huge franchise? 
"No, I had no idea. I figured it would play in the drive-in theatre for a couple of weeks, and that's it."

And is it true that you wore your own clothes as the budget was so small? 

I'm going to stop listening to gossip I vowed.

Out of the three actors approached to play Dr Loomis, Cushing, Lee and Pleasance, do you think that Donald Pleasance was the best choice?
"He was perfect for the part."

So, why do you think the film is so popular? 
"Combination of the idea, the music and the suspense that John Carpenter created."

Now, Halloween was voted the 5th scariest film of all time, in your opinion, what do you think is the 1st?

Ahh interesting... Now for a test...

So you must be a Michael Myers expert, do you know Michael's supposed middle name? 

That's right, but I suppose you would know!

Was it true that John Carpenter created a 'fear meter'? If so, what the hell was it?
"I don't remember hearing about that."
Just a rumour then..? Well that could still be true I suppose...

Now, you shared the role with 2 other actors, obviously you couldn't play a 6 year old, but why did Nick Castle also join the cast as Michael? 
"Because it was cheaper. He was part of the crew. I believe it's a total of 5 though."

5?! But Tony was still the first...

Have you ever read the Curtis Richards book that the film was based on? 

You must go to loads of conventions? How many do you attend every year?
"Anywhere between 5 to 10 a year."

And what's the best question you've ever been asked?
"There's really no best particular one."

Your fans must love you? Does it ever weird? 
"No, they don't get weird. They're fantastic."

I suddenly felt a tug on my skirt, it was a tiny ghost, covered in chocolate and clutching her stomach, I was time to go. Thanking Tony I turned to leave, he was quiet man, but an interesting one... I started off but then thought of one last question, Tony had already started to close the door, but I had to ask... I called back...
So Tony, what do you think Michael Myers would be doing now if he'd never been caught? 
The door stopped and without any movement at all, Tony spoke softly but purposefully and said... 

The door finally closed but not before I saw the flash of a silver blade by his side and

noticed something red and fresh dripping from it... I looked at my son, he looked at me... We grabbed the little ghost and ran as fast as we could all the way home.... 

Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, 11 October 2013

It's just a jump to the left... An interview with Little Nell

It was raining hard, the drive from Ohio was a long one and I knew I was lost, what the hell was I going to do now?... Suddenly I saw it,  a castle looming in front of me. I could hear music and hysterical laughter coming from inside... I had to see what was going on...oh,  and to ask directions.

tentatively approached the door, the music was booming and the castle looked intimidating. I knocked on the door... Knock... Knock... Knock...

After a few seconds the music and laughter stopped and the door slowly creaked open.  crrrrrreeeeeaaaakkkkkk.....

Then standing there before me was a red headed vision in a gold spangled top hat and matching jacket, tapping and squealing with raucous laughter she ushered me in... A whole host of odd characters stood before me, a balding man hunched over in a mourning suit, a wild haired maid, an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair, a biker, a buff godlike man in nothing but skimpy golden briefs, a couple who looked as lost as I was and strangely attractive man in a basque and suspenders.... I took a breath and stepped back... I knew where I was, I was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I was loving every minute of it. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 British musical comedy horror film and adaptation of Richard O'Brien's stage play 'The Rocky Horror Show'. Directed by Jim Sharman and O'Brien, the production is a humerous tribute to the horror B movies and science fiction movies of the late '40s through to the early '70s. It introduces Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon along with cast members from the origional Kings Road, including Nell and has become a cult legend and is still as popular today as it ever was.... If you haven't seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show... Shame on you...

The red head, Columbia by character, Nell Campbell by name, Little Nell to her friends grabbed me and dragged me off... I started to ask her some questions... 

How did you land the role, is it true you were spotted when you busked as a tap dancer? Do you know of anyone else who was up for the part?
"Jim Sharman the director had met me briefly in Australia.  He, R. O;B and Richard Hartley, musical director, came to the cafe where I was a soda jerk and  used tap dance and sing along to 1930's and 40's music to as I worked and delivered the sodas etc."

Had you heard of the script before you auditioned? Did you know what you were letting yourself in for?
"No to both.  No one knew the show would gather a cult following."
So you didn't have an inkling?
"No one ever does.  eg Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind."  

Ahhh... so how was the part described to you? In fact how was the who thing described to you?? 
"I probably said yes to the part when offered before I knew a thing as I would have said yes to any role.  I was v young and desperate to be an actress.  They played me a couple of songs from the show in the cafe I seem to remember and they sounded great."

I heard that when you first came to the Uk from Australia you had a market stall in Kensington Market, next to Freddie Mercury, is this true? If so what was he like?
"Freddie a sweetie pie.  He told me he was in a band and I thought, yeah, well, you're working in a market so the band obviously not doing that well. We would have a laugh as he sold his groovy platform boots.   I warned him that if he ate so much as a donut his trousers would split.  Good lord they were tight." 

I'm sure Richard O'Brien must have had a preconceived idea of who Columbia was? Did he give you much encouragement and direction or did he let you create her?
"Our characters followed the script but we each made of them what we wanted encouraged by Jim Sharman." 

And did the character change  in anyway after you were cast?
"Richard O'Brien put the tap dance in Time Warp to accommodate my gifts in that area, the rest I made up myself. "

You had such an iconic look for Columbia, did you have your hair styled to create her, or was that your actual cut and colour?
"That was how I wore my hair then and same colour."

And what was it like acting alongside the creator of Rocky Horror? During the production of the film was Richard O'Brien content to just be an actor and let Jim Sharman get on with it?
"Richard was great fun and it was 90 min musical performed in a tiny 60 seat theatre and we all got on well so it was a fun ride.  No one had a clue what it was the beginning of.   I think R O"B trusted Jim to do it his way."  

And what was it like switching from stage to screen? 
"If you mean in the role no different other than my make up a lot tamer in the film than the stage show."
So what do you prefer?
"Love both.  The key is that it is a 90 min all lean no fat well written show with great songs.  It holds up as well today as it did opening night.  It is a classic because it is so good."

You worked with such a great cast, how did you react when you found out that your love interest in the film would be the one and only Meat Loaf?   
"None of us had heard of Meatloaf then. 
And what was he like to work alongside?
He had a personality to match his size and voice and we all adored him.  It was a very happy cast."

Tim Curry was and still is such a dominating figure, was he really as manic as he seemed?
"Good lord no.  Tim is a calm, v intelligent, witty charmer." 

There are so many happening every year, but do you attend many of the sing a long or fan functions?
"When invited I appear at conventions"

When was the last time you quoted the film in daily life? (There's no way in hell I could ever say the word 'Handy Man' without effecting a Curry-
esque drawl!)  or sang one of the songs? Or even do the TimeWarp at a party?
"I don't quote it so much as others bring it up.  I never mind."

Talking of Rocky Horror functions, you must have seen some fabulous and some shocking 'Nells' in your time... What was the most memorable?
"They come in all ages, sexes and sizes and I love 'em all.  A fan recently told me that she was only dressed as Magenta because she couldn't afford to make my costume.  The fans all make their own and I am so impressed at the time, effort and now money they put into it.  I am always thrilled at how much pleasure the film has given people."    

Why do you think the film has stood the test of time?
"Because the script and songs are so good, it is funny and clever and because it was written as a 50's pastiche it has never aged."

And lastly 18, would you like to do the TimeWarp again?
"But of course." 

And with a jump to the left, she was gone and I was in my car on the highway... And the rain had stopped....................................................................................

And if you fancy singing along, check out

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Small Roles, Big Impact - #2 - An interview with Tony "Get in the back of the van!!!" Wise

Withnail & I, directed and based on an unpublished book by Bruce Robinson is unbelievably 26 years old! But with it's one liners and impeccable performances, it still resonates among film fans and critics all over the world.

The main plot follows two unemployed young actors, Withnail and “I” (portrayed by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) who live in a squalid flat in Camden Town in 1969. Needing a break, they obtain the key to the country cottage in the Lake District belonging to Withnail’s flamboyantly gay Uncle Monty and drive there. The holiday is less recuperative than they expected.

It has gained cult status and can regularly be found in the top 100 critics choices of best films, not bad for a small budget movie with only a handful of cast members and a flimsy plot.

It also has to be one of the most quoted films of all time and has websites dedicated to not only a Withnail drinking game (The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film.All told, Withnail is shown drinking roughly nine and a half glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof rum are common substitutes), two and a half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale) but to just the quotes... From "Monty you terrible C***" to "I feel like a pig s*at in my head" and of course "Get in the back of the van!" screeched by Retro LadyLands guest of the week this week, Tony Wise.

When you got your script was it you or Bruce Robinson who decided on the delivery? 
"He just told me to shout the line."

What was Bruce Robinson like as a director? And The rest of the wonderful cast as actors?
"Only on set for 3 hours, including costume fitting. all a bit rushed . Bruce Robinson was quite friendly."

How many takes did you have to do?
"6 or 7"

Did you try it in different ways?
"Bruce Robinson told me to bring it down a bit!"

That was toned down?

Did you corpse? 
"Richard E Grant corpsed every take that's why so many."

How many times do you hear people screech your line when they realise that it was you? 
"A few I suppose."

How does it make you feel that people still think of you and your line when ever thinking about Withnail and I? How does it feel just to have been in such an amazing film?! 
"I don't known they are thinking of me so it never occurs to me. Do they really? Feels a bit cool I supposed. Street cred with young people!"
Have you ever played the Withnail drinking game? 

When was the last time you watched Withnail?
"13 years ago in 2000 when Richard e had a charity showing of it in Leicester sq to raise money for his school in Lesotho. My Oscar moment. All cast went on stage after. Props and costumes were auctioned off. Fans rushing forward for my autograph etc, then half an hour later back to obscurity!"

Did you have any idea what a phenomenon it was going to be?
"Not at all. Don't think anyone did..."

What do you think of the Swede Mason mix of you?
"Yes I have , someone said it has had over 250,000 hits. Think its good and quite funny."

What do you write on your CV about the part? Have you ever got a part (or anything) because of the kudos of your appearance in Withnail?
"I just add it onto my credits in a list. Have got acres jibs/interviews out of it, mainly fringe jobs from young directors who love with nail. Agents and casters don't seem impressed."

Well, that was short and  sweet... Like the role he played... Although that was more short and shouty...