[Interview] Caroline Williams on Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween II’
After surviving The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 only to meet up with Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II in 2009, most recently hunting down Victor Crowley alongside Danielle Harris in the bloody swamps of Hatchet III earlier this year, Caroline Williams is a genre icon, loved by fans around the world as one of the toughest heroines in horror.
“I simply got an offer from Rob’s production company to play Dr. Maple in the film,” Williams recalls of how she got involved with the sequel. “Rob loves featuring horror veterans in his films.
“I really loved working on H2, but it was a little nerve-wracking being the first shot the first day of shooting. You really want to be on your game when you’re the first out of the gate. A successful first day sets the pace and tone for the entire picture sometimes, so you don’t want to be the one to mess up.
“It was fast paced and I loved the opportunity to work with Octavia Spencer (who would go on to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in The Help). Rob sent the two of us into a room with a video guy and we improvised our entire scene. It was so much fun!”
Caroline told us that she liked working with Zombie, and then elaborated on the director’s style of working on set.
“He’s very experimental,” she said. “Most directors would never have sent two actors off on their own to make stuff up. He gave us the parameters of what the scene should be about, told us about how much time we had and cut us loose. For a first day of shooting that was remarkably confident.
“He’s also intimidatingly cool. Super nice, but I’ve never met anyone with that much cool. Wish I had it.”
With John Carpenter’s original Halloween celebrating its milestone 35th anniversary this year, we asked Williams about her own thoughts on the 1978 classic that started it all.
“I adored the original Halloween,” said Caroline. “It was groundbreaking for me in that Carpenter wrote his own theme music, which, to this day, is the hallmark of the film. I don’t know that any previous filmmakers had done that. That’s what I remember most about the film.
“Also, that it was a standard ghost story structure, but with a living antagonist. Scared the hell out of me.
“I can’t hear that music without getting a chill up my spine.”
Naturally, we then wanted to know Caroline’s thoughts on Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake, which directly preceded the events of H2 in 2009.
“I was so impressed with the fact that Rob took on the challenge of remaking such a remarkable, iconic film,” said Caroline. “He brought the culture and language into the present day and really pulled it off.
“I loved the way he expanded the character of Dr. Loomis, with the amazing Malcolm MacDowell, and took the character in a direction that no one expected. He also made Haddonfield itself a character in the movie.
“The little town devolves from a lovely, Bedford Falls feel, to Potterville in the two films. Really sets the tone and mood for the movies themselves.”
We also asked Caroline if she had seen or was a fan of any of the other sequels in the Halloween franchise.
“I’m not as devoted to movie sequels as many are,” she said. “I find the principal incarnations of movies are frequently the most innovative and creative. Most installations in movie series can be disappointing. The exception, is the Saw series of films. The first 3 or 4 were really escalations in horror and story structure, character development. Loved those films.”
After charming and then defeating Leatherface, and later meeting up with both Michael Myers and Victor Crowley, we asked Williams why these modern icons of horror return time and again, welcomed back by legions of fans, and are in fact more popular today than ever.
“I think the horror icons in films are power figures more than anything else,” said Caroline. “We live in such fast-paced, constantly changing times and environments, the culture can’t always take time to absorb events and technology. It can feel difficult to get a handle on things. And governments are increasingly interventionist and intrusive to a sense of personal autonomy and power. These figures can channel a feeling of power and control.
“Plus, it’s fun to feel scared to death and then walk out of a theater knowing you’re still safe.”
We will talk to Caroline much more about Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Hatchet III, and more in our full interview here.
Read Part 2 of our interview with Caroline Williams here.