Sean Clark is a well known figure in the horror world, as the creator and host of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds or as agent to the genre’s most revered performers with his Convention All Stars, or maybe you remember his masks from Silver Shampain Novelties or his writing for some of your earliest favorite sites, but few may know how it all started, how it all comes back to one franchise in particular, and how he, with a little help from Jamie Lee Curtis, brought a beloved icon back to that franchise.
While at the recent Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC, I sat down with Sean for a relaxed and revealing conversation about all things Halloween, how the franchise has actually shaped his life and given him a career, and how it all came full circle when he put Nick Castle in a position to reprise the role of Michael Myers in the new Halloween movie.
Our wide-ranging conversation begins with Sean’s behind the scenes story of what went down from his perspective that ultimately led to Castle putting the Myers mask back on in the new film, before winding through a free-flowing discussion of the Halloween franchise itself, its unmatched fans, his favorite masks from the series, ideas for possible sequels, this year’s 40th anniversary, and how everything keeps coming back to Michael Myers.
Read on for Part 1 of our interview with Sean Clark, and then check out Part 2 here.
Can you tell me the story of how you got Nick Castle involved in the new Halloween film?
Basically what happened is, I was sitting at home and I got a phone call, and this guy says, ‘Is Tom there?’ I said, ‘No, there’s no Tom here. Who are you looking for?’ And he says, ‘Tom Morga.’(Morga played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13thPart V and Michael Myers in a few early scenes of Halloween 4.) I said, ‘Oh, I represent him. Who is this?’ He said, ‘Oh, this is Rawn (Hutchinson), I’m the stunt coordinator on the new Halloween movie, and we’re interested in bringing him in for the part of Michael Myers.’
I said, ‘Oh, really? Tom Morga?’ He said, ‘Yeah. He’s what 6’2, late 60s-early 70s?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ He said, ‘Yeah, they want the guy to be age appropriate. It’s supposed to be 40 years later, and that’s what age he would be roughly.’
I said, ‘Oh great. Yeah, I honestly think Tom has got the perfect build for it still and he’s very fit.’ And I realized it was Rawn Hutchinson (on the phone), who was the stunt coordinator on Rob Zombie’s (Halloween) movies, and I met him at the Halloween 35th convention. I actually invited him and he came down. So he was like ‘Oh, Sean, yeah!’, and he remembered who I was. And he goes, ‘Who else do you think would be good for the part that fits that description?’
I said, ‘Well, Chris Durand is younger, he’s like late 50s, but he’s always been a fan favorite for the way he played The Shape (in Halloween H20). He’s the right build.’ And he says, ‘Well give me his info too.’ So I gave him Tom’s info and I gave him Chris’s info.
At the time, I wasn’t really thinking of pitching anybody really, it just kind of popped out off the top of my head – Later when I told the story to Don Shanks (Halloween 5), he was a little upset that I didn’t recommend him. (laughs) I love Don to death, he’s one of the nicest, sweetest guys in the world, but I’ve always felt he’s – now especially – he’s a little too just ripped, I mean he’s a beast. So I apologized that I didn’t recommend him and I then immediately gave him Rawn’s contact info, and I think he contacted them himself. I don’t know if that ever went anywhere.
So anyway, that happens, I hang up the phone (with Hutchinson), and I’m thinking to myself – they had already cast Jamie (Lee Curtis) – they’re looking for somebody age appropriate. They’re basically looking for Nick Castle. They’ve gone taller with Michael, but he’s the guy they’re trying to replace. This is the guy. Why not go for the real guy?
So I called Nick. I said, ‘Hey, this is a crazy question, but I just got this phone call. Would you ever even consider it?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘Wait, really?’ He said, ‘Yeah, why not? Get it out there to whomever and see if there’s any interest.’
So I immediately texted Jamie, and I said, ‘Hey look, this is the phone call I just got. I thought of this. I called Nick. He said he would do it.’ Jamie immediately texted me back and said, ‘Let me get this to the right people.’ Within 30 minutes, I got a call from Blumhouse asking me for Nick’s contact info. Within an hour of that, Nick calls me and says he has a Skype interview with the director the next morning. It happened that fast.
I was just sitting there talking to my girlfriend and I said, ‘I think I just changed movie history’ just on a crazy idea. And that’s how it happened. It all happened in one day, literally within two hours. I can tell you the exact date because I think it was the last thing I texted Jamie. (checks phone) It was Sept. 20th.
So I called Morga and I called Chris Durand, and I said, ‘This is what I did.’ I told Tom, ‘They called for you, and I mentioned Nick.’ But I said to Tom, ‘There’s no way Nick’s going to be able to do the stunts. They’re going to still need a stunt guy. So hopefully you guys both get the job.’ And that was my intention; it wasn’t to try to steal a job away from my friend.
I know Tom spoke to them, but never got called in for an audition. I think, and he thinks, it’s because he mentioned to them that he had a knee problem, because he had been limping and he has been having a problem with one of his knees. He had mentioned it to me, like, ‘Yeah my knee, but I think it will be fine.’ But he said, ‘I haven’t heard from them, they haven’t called me,’ and I knew Chris Durand had already gone in for an audition. Chris did get called in and he did have an audition.
So literally in two hours it went from them calling for Tom Morga to Nick Castle having a meeting scheduled with David Gordon Green.
Yeah. And then (after the meeting) Nick told me, ‘It went great. I think it’s going to happen.’ So Nick would periodically text me saying this is what’s going on, until they finally made a deal.
So that’s my little bit of Halloween history.
It’s great to hear that they were so receptive to your suggestion. Not to take anything away from Tom or anybody, but just the fact that the powers that be actually paid attention. But I guess having Jamie’s number to text didn’t hurt.
I think that was the key. She is a powerful individual.
I remember when we were doing the Night She Came Home documentary, there were multiple cuts sent in. I know that it was getting to the point where Anchor Bay kept saying, ‘You need to cut a little more from it.’ They wanted it tighter and tighter and tighter. They were trying to negotiate her doing a new audio commentary. And it got to the point where, she told me, she told them, ‘If you don’t take this recent cut, I’m not doing the commentary.’ And it was suddenly, ‘We’re taking this cut.’ She basically put her foot down.
Fortunately she likes Nick and they have history, and I think she thought, ‘Why not? It’s a great idea’.
Like I said, 20 minutes after I texted her, Blumhouse calls me. I was just like sitting there going, ‘This is crazy.’ (laughs)
You had to have been feeling a number of emotions, as a fan yourself but then also as a friend of these people. It must have been hitting you on a number of levels.
Yeah. But then at the same time I’m thinking, ‘What if Nick doesn’t have it anymore? They’ll all be saying that’s the guy that suggested it.’ (laughs)
I’ll be honest with you, I was really shocked with some of the negative response when it was announced, with some of the people saying he’s too old and out of shape. It’s like, I mean, ‘Really, guys?’ Come on, man. First off, do you really think Michael Myers in 40 years may not have put on a little weight, eating dog carcasses or however he’s been surviving? And I talked to Nick about it.
Nick saw some of the negative stuff online, and he fortunately had a good sense of humor about it. Then he made that video on the treadmill that he sent to the director, and then he sent it to me and I posted it on Facebook. And it’s funny, but I think that treadmill video, people looked at it and said, ‘Oh, he doesn’t look as bad as I thought he did.’
I think that people in their head just thought of him sitting behind the convention table or being maybe not that athletic, and they’re just like, ‘That guy can’t do it,’ but it’s like, ‘Why can’t he?’ And he clearly can still walk, and Myers doesn’t run. And Nick’s not really that out of shape by any means. And like I said there’s another guy anyway.
Obviously, they ended up getting (another) guy (to also play The Shape), because according to what I’ve heard, it (the role of Myers in the new film) gets very, very physical. Nick was like, ‘There’s no way in hell I could have done it.’ So they’ve got James Jude Courtney. I’ve been talking to him quite a bit, but I haven’t met him face to face yet.
He’s going to be a new Convention All Star?
We’re going to finalize that this week. He contacted me and said, ‘Everybody’s telling me you’re the guy. Malek Akkad says you’re the guy. Ryan Turek says you’re the guy. Nick Castle says you’re the guy. Everybody speaks very highly of you. I think you’re the guy.’ He messaged me three days ago and said, ‘Okay, Jamie Lee Curtis just initiated a conversation about you. You’re clearly the guy.’
You can’t come with any higher recommendations than that.
Yeah, the fact that she brought me up to him. So that was good.
So you’ve seen the new mask?
I will say this: I liked it. And I am a mask snob. This is from a guy who used to do masks and owns pretty much every version that’s ever existed from the franchise. There are masks I hate from the series. It was a gasp of relief when I saw it, like, ‘Oh cool, it looks good. I like it.’
You know, I guarantee you, just like anything in life, (some) people are going to hate it. People are going think it’s the greatest mask ever and people are going to think it’s the worst mask ever.
I liked it. And I think fans will like it.
Me personally, I’ll tell you why I’m not a big fan of Halloween 4, and it’s because of the mask. It’s a pretty damn good movie, but I’ve always hated that mask. It looks like a crash test dummy to me. It almost looks like it’s smirking. And Halloween 5, hated that mask. Halloween 6, I like that mask. H20, hated the KNB version, love the Winston version, even though the Part 6 version was in there too and I like that one. I hated the Resurrection mask. It looked too groomed. It was a metro-sexual Michael Myers. And I like the Rob Zombie mask.
I do too, especially the clean version in the beginning.
I didn’t care for it in (Zombie’s) Part II, what happened with the ripping, but I thought it was a good design.
So I think fans will like the (new) mask, but like I said, you’re never going to make everybody happy. There’s no way.
You have to have a thick skin when you’re dealing with this franchise, because this is by far the most fucking opinionated group of fans I’ve ever experienced in my life. The Halloween fans are fucking insane.
And you’ve dealt with every franchise.
Yes. Hands down, by far, they are the most over the top, opinionated group, for better or for worse. They are far more passionate.
You can read Part 2 of our interview with Sean Clark, in which we discuss more about the franchise’s devoted fan base, this year’s 40th anniversary convention in South Pasadena, and how his unique journey began with Michael Myers and has intertwined with Halloween ever since, here.
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