John Carpenter Didn't Have To Look Far To Find His Michael Myers

John Carpenter's "Halloween" introduced the world to the terrifyingly persistent killer Michael Myers, a human-shaped mass of evil that menaced the suburban residents of Haddonfield, Illinois with a slowly-paced, eerie step. Michael is such an inhuman force that it's easy to forget that there's a real actor behind the mask and coveralls. That person is one Nick Castle, friend and frequent creative collaborator of Carpenter.

Castle attended the University of Southern California film school with Carpenter and worked with him on his earliest productions, including the pre-"Halloween" student project "Dark Star," in which he played a surreal alien shaped like a beach ball. The actor also co-wrote Carpenter's "Escape from New York" and became a screenwriter and filmmaker himself, directing the CG-pioneering "The Last Starfighter" and contributing to the story for Steven Spielberg's "Hook." However, Castle's role as the ultimate boogeyman in"Halloween" is still his most memorable appearance. 

Michael the Friend

As with other low-budget indie horror films, the production of "Halloween" was a collaboration between friends (just think of the friendship between Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and company during the making of "The Evil Dead"). Producer and co-writer Debra Hill was John Carpenter's girlfriend at the time, and editor-production designer Tommy Lee Wallace played in a band called The Coupe De Villes with Carpenter and Nick Castle. According to an interview published by The New York Times, Carpenter partially chose Castle because his father was a choreographer. The director thought Castle's parentage might lend "a grace to his movements." 

Of course, the director also didn't have to pay Castle much, and that was important within the budgetary confines of a $300,000 production. The director mentioned in a Rotten Tomatoes interview that Castle "was free. He was cheap." Castle was paid $25 a day for his role, which was more than he thought he would get. Initially, Castle was "hanging around the set for no money," he states in a Vanity Fair profile on the Michael Myers actors. 

Since Carpenter gave him simple directions, Castle was essential in molding Michael's personality. Castle states that he "knew Michael's movements weren't going to be robotic. He was a real guy. He's not rushing." Throughout the years, several actors have taken up the mantle of the legendary slasher, including Tony Moran who briefly plays the unmasked Michael Myers in the 1978 original. Nevertheless, Castle's subtle yet iconic performance is the one that inspired them all.