Halloween H20 is one of the most popular and controversial films in the entire Halloween franchise, the result of numerous script changes, Michael Myers mask alterations, a rebooted timeline, the heralded return of scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, and a much anticipated on-screen reunion of Curtis and her Psycho star mom Janet Leigh, but you may not realize just how different it all could have been.
Initially scripted by Kevin Williamson, H20 at one time looked much more similar to Williamson’s own blockbuster Scream, which came out two years earlier. What if Michael Myers was not the only killer in the film? What if someone else wanted to be Michael Myers, and what if that someone eventually came face to face with the real Boogeyman?
We recently caught up with Adam Hann-Byrd, who plays Charlie Deveraux in Halloween H20, for a lengthy and candid chat about his own career (starting with a starring role in Jodie Foster’s directorial debut Little Man Tate), how he got involved with H20, and the shocking truth about the real killer as it was originally scripted.
Read on for Part 1 of our interview with Halloween H20 star Adam Hann-Byrd!
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Adam told us, remembering how he got his first film job. “I started in this industry at a very young age, and fell into it really. Most people would kill to be an actor and go on auditions and run around town, and for me literally I was just a kid in elementary school. A casting director happened to walk by while I was in math class and said, ‘You look like you could play Jodie Foster’s son.’
“They called me in for an audition for Little Man Tate and that was the first audition I ever did, and I wind up getting it. (laughing) It’s pretty unbelievable. It fell in my lap basically.
“Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some really cool projects. With Jumanji, I got to do a little bit of special effects stuff, which is really fun.”
When the actor fist learned of Halloween H20, he was especially excited to be going for the role of Charlie, because in the original draft of the script, Charlie was to be a much more killer part.
“When Halloween came along, I guess I was in high school at the time,” Adam recalls. “The script came my way, and I was really excited because in the original draft I got, Charlie was actually a bad guy.”
WHAT?!? Funny, wisecracking, alcohol-stealing Charlie was a bad guy?
“He was a copycat killer who was copying Michael Myers and wreaking havoc at the boarding school,” Adam explains. “Then of course in the end, the real Michael Myers comes and exacts revenge upon him.
“So I was like totally pumped about it, because I’ve always wanted to play a villain, and I’ve always been a fan of the Halloween movies. I was very excited.
“On the day of the audition and I had a really bad headache or something. I did my read, and I walked out and just thought I really botched this thing and screwed up this read. Sure enough, they came back the next day and said, ‘Hey, everybody loves you. You were really kind of off, and it just seemed like you were detached from everything.’ I was like, ‘Oh, great!’”
How different would H20 have been if Charlie had turned out to be a Michael Myers copycat killer? Adam still recalls how the big reveal was to have played out in what would surely have been on of the film’s most talked about scenes.
“There was a really great scene in that draft where I reveal myself as the killer” Hann-Byrd said. “I play Josh Hartnett’s roommate, so it’s this hybrid of what the role became – the best friend. So we’re hanging out in the dorm room, and I start singing the Oscar Mayer wiener song, and I spell Oscar, but when I get to Mayer, I spell it the Michael Myers way – M Y E R S.”
While this turn of events would have most certainly added to both H20‘s appeal and controversies, the copycat killer subplot was soon eliminated, making way for Michael himself to do all the murdering.
“I wound up getting the role” Adam said. “I think I only met them once, that one time when I was really out of it. So I got the job, and Steve (Miner, director) wound up calling me a couple weeks later and said, ‘We’re going to do another pass on the script. We’re changing things up. Obviously we still want you to be in it, but you’re no longer going to be the killer. You’re going to be the horny best friend.’
“And as soon as they say you’re going to be the horny best friend, you know you’re not going to last. But I was very happy with that too, because in addition to always wanting to play a villain, death scenes are always fun. When they told me, ‘We’re going to do something nasty to you’, I believed it. I’m in, kill me.”
Speaking of Charlie’s death, we asked if there any more to it that was filmed than what was shown in the finished film, but Adam says it was the opposite. His death was supposed to happen off screen, but someone who knows a thing or two about this genre had the great idea to put it in and then amp up the tension to what we see now.
“Originally in the script, the encounter with Michael is barely there” said Adam. “Basically I go off to find a corkscrew or whatever, and then I essentially kind of never come back. Then they find me dead, and never really show the encounter.
“When we were shooting, I remember distinctly one day Jamie (Lee Curtis) came up to me at lunch and said, ‘Hey, Adam, you know Steve and I were talking for about three or four hours last night trying to figure out fun ways to kill you. Yeah, we were talking about it and we want to do this thing where you stick your hand down a garbage compactor.’
“I really, I mean my vote was just chop it right off and make it really nasty. She said, ‘No, we actually want to do that and build a suspenseful moment, and then you actually make it out of the compactor in one piece and that’s when you run into Michael. All that kind of came up while we were on set.”
We will talk to Adam much more about his behind the scenes memories of Halloween H20, including his recollection of filming Charlie’s death scene and that infamous shot of Michael that appears to feature a CGI mask, and we’ll get his thoughts on working with Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett and the rest of the cast, and why horror’s most hallowed legacy continues to be more popular today than ever, in Part 2 of our interview here and Part 3 here!