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Waffleween - Tony Moran Interview

Tony Moran was the face of Michael Myers in John Carpenter's "Halloween". We caught up with him for a chat about those days and what he's been up to since.

The Movie Waffler: We're actually an Irish based site and with a surname like Moran you must have some Irish roots?

Tony Moran: Yes indeed I do and I've always wanted to get to Ireland.

TMW: We don't really have horror conventions over here unfortunately so maybe someone should set one up and get you to come over.

TM: Really? They do 'em in Germany...

TMW: Yeah it's a huge thing everywhere, it's massive in the U.K but not over here sadly.

TM: I've been to Germany for one but not England.

TMW: Somebody needs to set one up in Dublin.

TM: Yeah, I would dig that a lot, that would be so much fun.

TMW: You're the brother of Erin Moran (Joanie from "Happy Days"), is that right?

TM: I'm her older brother, four years older.

TMW: Which of you got the acting bug first?

TM: You know, she kind of did it first but let me tell you what happened. My parents threw a Christmas party one year when I was nine and Erin was five, and an agent happened to show up with a friend of my parents. This agent took a look at me and Erin and said we should be in film and TV. So she became our agent and actually our first jobs were together. We played a brother and sister on a commercial for a bank. There was a very famous commercial director at the time named Lee Lacey and he was famous because he did really big budget commercials back then. One of the scenes was Erin and I going down a hill of snow on a toboggan and he flew us to four different states to get the right hill. After that I was old enough to tell my parents "I ain't doing this any more", because we were freezing and stuff, they didn't give us any protective clothing or anything. But Erin was too small to know any better so she kept on going and I quit. She stayed with that same agent for years and years. By the time I was nineteen the agent had been asking me every year to get back into it so I finally did. I took some acting workshops and things like that.

TMW: You made appearances on "CHIPS" and "The Waltons" in the seventies...

TM: I played a bad boy in "The Waltons" and a cop on "CHIPS". I did "Hart to Hart", "California Fever", "James at 15", "James at 16" and some soap operas. 

TMW: How did shooting a TV show compare to a movie?

TM: TV was way more organized and professional than the likes of "Halloween". I had way more fun on "Halloween" even though it was low budget and not a studio production. 

TMW: How exactly did you get the part in "Halloween"?

TM: My agent called me up and first she apologized to me. She goes "I'm sorry things have been really slow lately but I do have this one thing. It's a real low budget horror movie called "Halloween" and Jamie Lee Curtis is in it." The first thing I said was "Who the hell is Jamie Lee Curtis" because I didn't know who she was. At the time she was a year younger than me and she was a nobody. I said "Who's gonna make a horror movie with the name "Halloween", I mean how corny can you get?" She told me the budget was only $350,000 and I was thinking "No, I don't wanna do this". She didn't even know I had to wear a mask by the way. So I said no. But then she told me Donald Pleasence was in it and I said "Fuck you, he is not in this movie." I was a huge fan of his but I thought there's no way he'd be in something like this. So now my curiosity was up and I decided to take an interview. The interview was held in a really ghetto part of Hollywood down an alleyway and I interviewed with Irwin Yablans and John Carpenter. It was 8:30 in the morning and we talked for about fifteen minutes. Later that afternoon my agent called and said I had the part. I was like "Whoop-dee-doo", like I actually cared. I still didn't know at this time that I had to wear a mask. I only found out on the day of filming.

TMW: Did you know which character you were being cast for?

TM: No. They said I was gonna play a psycho, that's all. They said I'd be attacking babysitters and stuff like that, whatever. I didn't really pay much attention to it because I really didn't care if I got the role or not. Frankly I was embarrassed by it because I had to wear a mask. I thought I was a "serious" actor, you know what I mean? I didn't even tell anyone I did it. Later I'm sitting in my apartment in the San Fernando Valley and this invitation comes in the mail to the premiere. I just laughed, took the invite and threw it away. I didn't actually see the film till I went to the theater with my girlfriend. It kept playing and playing in theaters, it wouldn't go away. I said to my girlfriend "Hey Cathy, you maybe wanna go check it out?" So we went and the place was packed and I'm watching the movie thinking "Damn, this is pretty good". 
They contacted me then for "Halloween 2" and I turned them down because I had to wear a mask again. So they said they wanted to use my footage from the original and would pay me if I allowed them. I said "sure". I got paid and never had to set foot on the set. 

TMW: Sounds like a good deal.

TM: Yeah, right? 

TMW: Did they want you to play the full Michael Myers role in "Halloween 2"?

TM: Yeah. 

TMW: The role that Dick Warlock filled?

TM: Exactly. 

TMW: Any regrets now over turning it down?

TM: No, none at all.

TMW: How many days did you work on the first movie?

TM: Only one day. The whole movie only took 21 days to film. Pleasence was only on set five or six days. 

TMW: Did you get to meet him?

TM: Oh yeah. He was a nice guy, very private though. He had a dry sense of humor. As soon as his scene was done he would bolt for his trailer. He was the only person who had a trailer. He kept to himself a lot.

TMW: How about Jamie Lee Curtis?

TM: We spent a bit of time together. She was a really cool chick, wild, very wild, but really down to earth. 

TMW: Did you know at the time who her parents (Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh) were? 

TM: Yeah my agent had explained who she was when she told me about the part. But I was like "so what?", I didn't care. 

TMW: Did you have much interaction with Carpenter?

TM: A little bit, just him explaining what he wanted from me and asking my opinions. He was like a computer. He had everything worked out down to a tee for every scene. Everything moved really fast. There were no more than two or three takes on each scene. 

TMW: Have you seen the remake?

TM: No and I won't. I met Rob Zombie before he made it and I'm a fan of his music but there's just no way I'll see it.

TMW: When it was first announced most horror fans were thinking "Remaking Halloween, you gotta be kidding!", but since then everything has been remade.

TM: Yeah, that really opened the floodgates. It felt like a stab in the heart. And Tyler Mane (who plays Myers) is huge, like this huge monster.

TMW: Myers was meant to be a physically normal guy, why cast a wrestler to play him?

TM: I know, ridiculous, just ridiculous.

TMW: Do you do a lot of convention appearances?

TM: Yeah I do. Last year not so much, I was out of the picture for personal reasons, but this year I'm booked every weekend of September and October. 

TMW: You've gotten back into acting recently too?

TM: Yeah, there's a movie I did called "Beg". I brought some friends in on the cheap, Tony Todd, Michael Berryman and PJ Soles. It's in negotiations for distribution. I play the lead role and it's a throwback to the traditional slasher films as well as being a tribute to them. It's a pretty interesting movie. I'm pretty proud of it and helped produce it too. 

TMW: How did you get involved?

TM: Remember that thing called MySpace? Back in 2005, people were sending me scripts but most of them weren't worth spending too much time reading. The director of "Beg", Kevin MacDonald, contacted me through MySpace, and was really down to earth and gracious. He told me he wrote a short and had me in mind to play the lead so wanted to send me the script. He said if I wasn't interested he wouldn't even make it. He came across different to most, wasn't pretentious or anything, so I said "send it to me". I read it and it was brilliant for a short. When I got back in touch with him he freaked out because he had never done anything like this before. In the short I have a wife so I told him I thought PJ Soles would be perfect for it but he said her agent had already turned him down. I told him she was my friend and I'd call her up. It turned out she never even got the script, her agent had just thrown it away. So I send her the script and she calls back and tells me it's great and she's in. We started with the short at the end of 2007. Then Kevin asked me about making it into a feature. I said "Sure, if you wanna go for it I can get some friends in on the cheap." That's how it turned into a full length feature. 

TMW: What kind of release do you think it will get?

TM: I'm not sure yet. I'm pretty sure it won't be a theatrical release but I'm not sure. I actually had a falling out with them, they kinda screwed me over so I haven't been talking to them lately. But that's pretty normal in this industry. When they're nobodies everything's cool and they're down to earth but once they make a movie all of a sudden their egos get out of whack. 

TMW: Had you known PJ back in '78 or did you meet her on the convention circuit later?

TM: We reconnected at conventions. In my early thirties I got out of Hollywood completely, got tired of it.

TMW: I believe the soundtrack of "Beg" is by Henry Manfredini ("Friday the 13th").

TM: He's got a library of music that you can choose tracks from. He didn't write anything specifically for us, we just used arrangements from his library.

TMW: Are you a horror fan yourself?

TM: To an extent. I don't have any particular favorite genre. I just saw "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", thought it was pretty funny. I'm not sure if it was meant to be funny or not. I was the only one in the theater laughing at certain points. I'm a horror fan, I'm just not obsessed with it or anything.

TMW: Have you seen many of John Carpenter's other films?

TM: Yeah, I've seen "The Fog", "The Thing", haven't seen his recent one yet.

TMW: Most of them have been remade at this stage. There's a remake of "Escape From New York" being talked about.

TM: Oh my God, are you kidding me?

TMW: Carpenter always says he's happy once the royalty checks keep coming.

TM: He got pretty screwed over for "Halloween", he's been in lawsuits for many years over that. That's the trouble with Hollywood, so many sharks.

TMW: Are you working on anything currently?

TM: I did a movie called "Emerging Past" and supposedly it's being re-edited and all that. The only reason I did it was because the director would let me put my daughter in it and I really wanted to put her in a movie. She was nine at the time. Apparently he's re-cut it completely and I'm gonna tell you something brother, the version I saw made me want to tear my eyes out it was so bad. It was terrible. That's what happens when there's too many hands in the pot.

TMW: Any plans to get back in the business or are you happy working the conventions?

TM: I'll be doing more acting, I got the bug back now. I'm not chasing Hollywood, that's for sure. It'll be more independent stuff, I enjoy those. Unless Hollywood knocks on the door and puts something in my lap I'm not doing the same things I did years ago.

TMW: If anyone starts up a horror convention in Dublin I'll let you know.

TM: Tell them Michael Myers will show up!