James Jude Courtney resumes the iconic role of Michael Myers in the new sequel Halloween Kills, and we recently talked to James about getting behind the mask again, the challenges of taking Michael’s carnage to the next level, watching the film for the first time, and much more.
In our exclusive new video interview, Courtney reveals that the original Myers, Nick Castle, does not appear on screen in Halloween Kills, but again performs Michael’s breathing. He tells HDN, “In Halloween Kills, he’s (Castle) not actually physically in the movie. In (Halloween) 2018, he came in, I think it was the third week of filming… He spent a week there, and immediately we were hoping that we would inhabit the same scene so that we could have the metaphorical passing of the mask. And we did, so it was the window scene, when Laurie Strode pulls up and sees him in the window… That was me in the mirror, so we accomplished what it is we wanted to accomplish, and there was this beautiful passing of the mask, as it were, the spirit of The Shape…
“He’s not in the actual movie. It’s me. But the beauty of this is it’s really spiritually poetic that he is the breathing. So when I’m stalking and you hear the breathing in the mask, it’s Nick Castle breathing, which I think again is very poetic, because Nick is the spirit of this character. It’s Nick’s spirit that I reached in and grabbed to manifest the 2018 character. I carried that with me into Halloween Kills. So to have him breathing the breath of life into The Shape in Halloween Kills is really special.
“Physically, Halloween Kills is far more demanding, and there wasn’t really the opportunity to have Nick’s physical presence there… Secondly, the mask is molded to my face. That mask is my face. So when any other person puts it on, the mask morphs. Nick’s face is longer than mine. So to have someone put that mask on and play a scene or scenes would be really difficult, but Nick’s spirit is there. He’s with us in spirit…
“The simple truth is Nick passed the baton, and I’m running out this part of the race.”
James also talks about working with Halloween Kills stunt coordinator Airon Armstrong, who performs as Myers in the 1978 flashback scenes. “For all the action, for all the fighting, he brought in a wonderful crew of stuntmen and martial artists who were just on top of their game,” says Courtney. “He’s a gifted martial artist himself. In fact, that played into what he did in the flashbacks… One of the martial arts he practices is Aikido. I practiced specifically Aikido for a decade. It’s one of the many martial arts that I put in my little bag of tricks. And there’s a very specific way you move in Aikido… You don’t lift your feet up, you glide. And the gliding is a very important part of the way The Shape moves.
“So I told David (Gordon Green) – I questioned why he didn’t just use me. I’m a classically trained actor, I could play a young me. But then when I saw him (Armstrong) move, I said, ‘David, you did exactly the right thing.’ And David just has a knack for doing the right thing. He just has this incredible understanding of how to create cinema.”
On the differences in the performances, Courtney continues, “Airon is a very subtle person. His demeanor is very subtle. Mine’s a little more out there and aggressive, just naturally. So the energy of The Shape within me is going to be manifesting through the being that I am… I have a certain presence and way of killing and all things that I do. Airon really embodied a younger Shape. I think he did an amazing job.”
One of the highlights of Halloween Kills is watching The Shape stalk Laurie’s daughter, Karen, while briefly not wearing a mask at all, something not really ever seen before in a Halloween movie. “I think, first of all, the power of having the energy of the person playing The Shape – In the ’78 (original Halloween film), they brought in Tony Moran to do a single scene, and that was John Carpenter’s decision. It is what it is, it’s iconic, it’s part of the ’78 mythology. I think David’s choice to have me without the mask… I think it’s a very powerful scene. When the mob is around and when The Shape chooses to put that mask on, it’s game on.
“But I think it’s important that The Shape is The Shape with or without the mask. The mask has its own gravitas. It has its own spiritual power, for sure, one hundred percent. But I think honoring, which David chose to do, the fact that the being that is The Shape is still the being that is The Shape. He showed that at the beginning of 2018, as well, when I was in the courtyard. So I think, on the aggregate, it’s David Gordon Green weaving another layer into the mythos of The Shape.”
Throughout our conversation, Courtney also discussed some of the challenges he faced when shooting Michael’s triumphant re-emergence from the fire at the beginning of the film and his subsequent firefighter massacre, as well as his showdown with Haddonfield’s mob of vigilantes, admitting that a creeping, bat-wielding Anthony Michael Hall (as Tommy Doyle) caused an involuntary physical reaction on the first two takes because James instinctively sensed danger approaching.
He also reminded us that working with franchise favorite Nancy Stephens, making her fourth appearance as Marion Chambers in HK, was a great reunion and one of his favorite memories from the set, as Courtney used to play tennis at the home of Nancy and her husband, Halloween II and Halloween: Resurrection director Rick Rosenthal, decades ago.
With Halloween Ends set to begin filming in January, Courtney is about to make franchise history as the first person ever to appear behind the mask on screen in three consecutive films, but he’s not thinking about any of that right now; he’s busy training, looking forward to another “dance” with Jamie Lee Curtis, and continuing to sharpen his focus on inhabiting the spirit of The Shape.
You can watch our full exclusive new interview with James Jude Courtney on reprising his role as Michael Myers in Halloween Kills below.
For more Halloween news, follow @HalloweenDaily.