WILL THE REAL MICHAEL MY­ERS SHOW YOUR FACE?

The orig­i­nal, Nick Cas­tle, puts on his ‘Hal­loween’ mask once more

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Brian Truitt

Nick Cas­tle’s side ca­reer of be­ing a part­time hor­ror-movie icon comes down to a whim from 40 years ago. All he re­ally wanted to do was hang out with his old USC film-school class­mate, John Car­pen­ter, on the set of his fu­ture clas­sic “Hal­loween” and “de­mys­tify the ex­pe­ri­ence” as an as­pir­ing di­rec­tor, Cas­tle says. One rub­ber mask later, he’s mak­ing scary-flick his­tory stalk­ing Jamie Lee Cur­tis with a large kitchen knife as se­rial-killing psy­cho Michael My­ers. But re­tire­ment age can’t keep the orig­i­nal Michael down: Cas­tle, now 71, puts on the mask one more time in the new “Hal­loween” (in the­aters Oct. 19). Di­rec­tor David Gor­don Green’s se­quel, which picks up four decades af­ter Car­pen­ter’s orig­i­nal film (and dis­re­gards the in­stall­ments in be­tween), sends My­ers on an­other mur­der spree through sub­ur­bia, though for­mer baby sit­ter Lau­rie Strode (Cur­tis) has been pre­par­ing for his re­turn. While ac­tor/stunt­man James Jude Court­ney is the main man in the mask now, Cas­tle cameos as “The Shape” (how Michael was billed in the 1978 film’s cred­its) in a cru­cial scene where Lau­rie fi­nally sees him again in an up­stairs win­dow, on the prowl. She shoots the win­dow out, but it turns out she just saw his re­flec­tion in a mir­ror, which shat­ters. “It has all kinds of con­no­ta­tions, I think,” says Cas­tle, who gave Cur­tis “a big hug” when they saw each other on the South Carolina set. “She said, ‘Is this nuts or what?!’ So that was kind of what it felt like: What the hell, this is go­ing on again 40 years later?” Cas­tle re­mem­bers pretty dis­tinctly “there was ab­so­lutely no fore­thought or prepa­ra­tion” for play­ing Michael in the orig­i­nal film. “It was John pup­peteer­ing me, telling me, ‘Walk here, walk there, tilt your head.’ ” Car­pen­ter in­sists there was some rea­son­ing on his part: “The thing about Nick was, his fa­ther was a chore­og­ra­pher and Nick has this kind of grace about him. I can’t ex­plain it, but he has a unique walk. I asked him be­cause I thought, ‘Well, that would throw us off a lit­tle bit in terms of who is this masked man?’ ” Com­par­ing Cas­tle’s Michael to Court­ney’s 2018 ver­sion, “I was more like a pan­ther and he’s more like a lion,” says Cas­tle, who also did a lot of the char­ac­ter’s heavy breath­ing in post-pro­duc­tion for Green’s “Hal­loween.” Court­ney’s a big­ger guy – he’s 6-foot-3, Cas­tle is 5-foot-11 – and “did a re­ally good job. It’s a bru­tal Michael.” Although Cas­tle misses the old Michael mask (“This one was tighter, so it wasn’t as com­fort­able”), he didn’t have trou­ble leav­ing the char­ac­ter be­hind. Other “Hal­loween” films fol­lowed his first, but Cas­tle in­stead em­barked on a busy di­rect­ing ca­reer that in­cluded the 1984 sci-fi cult film “The Last Starfighter,” 1986 fam­ily fan­tasy “The Boy Who Could Fly” and 1996 ro­man­tic com­edy “Mr. Wrong.” Now re­tired, he spends a lot of time play­ing with his grand­kids and fre­quents the hor­ror con­ven­tion cir­cuit with fel­low lu­mi­nar­ies like Robert Englund (aka Freddy Krueger) and Linda Blair (Re­gan from “The Ex­or­cist”). “I know it will be the thing that’ll be my epi­taph: They won’t say any­thing about my movies, I’ll be this guy in a rub­ber mask,” Cas­tle quips. “There’s the sense that ‘Aw, (no), that’s gonna be me?’ And then there’s the other side: I’m a hor­ror icon, so that’s not so bad.”

RYAN GREEN/UNI­VER­SAL

Forty years af­ter wear­ing Michael My­ers’ mask in the orig­i­nal “Hal­loween,” Nick Cas­tle dons it again.

COMPAS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

In the orig­i­nal “Hal­loween,” Cas­tle was the main man in the mask.

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