Known to multiple areas of the entertainment industry, Canadian-born actor Tyler Mane punctuated an early onscreen career as a pro-wrestler developing a wide fanbase from the late 80s through much of the 90s among WCW crowds as villain Nitron and Big Sky, expanding as a versatile actor with television roles including an appearance on the popular series Party of Five as well as VIP, Son of the Beach, and more. Continuing on through an impressive list of credits in the film industry including X-Men, Troy, Joe Dirt, The Scorpion King, Black Mask II, The Devil’s Rejects, and the mini-series, Hercules, Tyler’s most recent and, perhaps, best known roles feature him as serial killer Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s blockbuster remakes of Halloween (2007) and this year’s release, Halloween II. Sounds like a busy guy, huh? No kidding, but there’s no slowing down for Tyler as he finishes work on an upcoming western comedy, Gunless, with a simultaneous contribution from yet another direction in the opening of his own production company, Mane Entertainment. Blast recently had a chance to catch up with Tyler and he filled us in on Mane Entertainment’s first project, a suspense/thriller film, Pennance Lane, the challenges of assuming the role of a silent psychopath, and more. Read on….
Blast: Hey, how are you, Tyler?
Tyler Mane: I’m great, thanks.
B: Congratulations on Halloween II’s success, another fantastic film. You’re actually the first actor to play Michael Myers in more than one Halloween movie, right?
TM: Thank you very much. Yeah, I’m actually the first actor to play Michael Myers period. The other guys were stuntmen and, yes, this is the second one.
B: Can we expect more sequels?
TM: Well, they are talking to me about another one, so we shall see.
I have no idea what they’re actually planning, but hopefully they carry on where this one left off and keep telling the story.
B: That would make a lot of Halloween diehards very happy, I’m sure. These adaptations have really been pretty cool with the back stories on Michael’s childhood and psych history. I had also heard that Rob wrote the script with you in mind for that role?
TM: Well, yeah, he called me and asked if I wanted to play Michael Myers and I was a little hesitant, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go behind the mask. But then he explained what he wanted to do as far as giving the character a little more depth and how he wanted to tell the whole back story of Michael Myers as a product of his environment and what led to him turning out the way he did. I could see where it could be very interesting.
B: Are you not normally a horror fan? Did that have any part in your initial hesitation?
TM: Well no, you know, as an actor you’re looking to do roles with dialogue and get your depth and dimension through your dialogue and things like that. I was worried, I guess, that he would still be portrayed as a one-dimensional character, but Rob explained what he wanted me to do in bringing some physicality to the character and giving him some focus, then I was for it.
B: That’s an interesting aspect; just walking through the theatre, you hear plenty of “Hey, that has to be the easiest role in the film, he doesn’t have to memorize or speak any lines,” and the original films did allude to Michael being emotionless when he’s, in many ways, quite emotionally driven. I would think that an effective silent portrayal from his perspective would be pretty challenging for you as an actor.
TM: Yeah, absolutely. To give the character depth and to give the performance of viciousness is a lot harder than people think and I really wanted to take it to another level. The physicality that I had done the first time through, they had done a screening, and people were very sympathetic to Michael Myers, so we had to go in and re-shoot some things to change that so people weren’t as sympathetic to him. So I had done my job with that, but it’s not as easy as people think.
B: You’re living up to a lot in that role in taking on satisfying a huge following of fans and some pretty high expectations. How did you adopt the character traits to do that as well as you did? What process did you go through?
TM: First of all, I did a lot of research to see what other people thought and how they portrayed Michael Myers, and see what they brought to the role and I watched all the other Halloweens, except for Halloween III, The Season of the Witch, because Michael Myers doesn’t even appear in that one. Then I started doing research on serial killers and killers, and every one that I looked at, there were several people who said they would never have expected that the person was a killer based on his actions in society, and that it shocked them that they had been able to do the horrific things that they had done. So, I wanted to bring that to the role, and I figured, ok, that’s where my depth in this character is going to come from, showing how he interacts in society and can still do the heinous things that he’s done.
B: Particularly in Michael’s case where he’s not just a random serial killer, but actually has a goal involving family.
TM: Right, and with any serial killer, it’s almost like the perfect storm. There are so many different factors. For example, if you look at The Ice Man, Richard Kuklinski, the famous mob killer, he had the exact same childhood that Michael Myers had, and he killed over two hundred people. He was picked on by his parents and tortured animals, just like Michael. So if you look at people of the past like that, their emotions and their reactions all fall in line, plus they’ve got that chemical imbalance that brings it out. A normal person, even under certain circumstances, wouldn’t just grab a knife and start killing people.
B: The story with regard to Michael’s childhood was a great idea, and quite a bit different from the original but, as you just said, with some pretty disturbingly dysfunctional home situations. Do you have kids of your own?
TM: I do. Fortunately we’re not that dysfunctional!
B: That’s not exactly where I was going! How old are they?
TM: I have a boy and a girl. They’re twelve and fourteen.
B: Have they seen the Halloween movies?
TM: They’ve seen parts of them. They’ve actually come down and watched me filming. But as far as seeing it all put together, no. If they do see something like that, there’s a lot of covering of the eyes, and going ‘la la la la‘.
B: They are a bit on the graphic side compared to the originals.
TM: Yeah, I think the originals were a little more tame than these films.
B: Do you feel differently watching yourself in the finished product than you did while you were filming? Does it freak you out to see yourself so convincingly in that role?
TM: Yeah, you know when you see it all put together with the music score and the sound effects, um, yeah it kind of gets you going. There were a few times where I was like, “Ooh, I did that?” I actually made myself jump a few times. But when you’re filming it, it’s a whole different ballgame because you’ve got the whole crew there with you and you’re filming five, ten times from different angles to get it all pieced together and get those quick shots to have it look the way you need it to in the film. So yeah, it’s quite a bit different.
B: I guess any film you can watch after filming it and scare the hell out of yourself is definitely worthy of a “blockbuster” description!
TM: (laughing) Yes, thank you!
B: How far back do you go with Rob that he was able to write a role like this for you?
TM: Actually, the first time I met Rob was when I had done The Devils Rejects with him. I was Rufus in the film, we worked together for about four days and from that, we went right to Halloween.
B: Is there one that you prefer personally over the other between the two films?
TM: They’re two totally different movies. The first one sort of follows the framework of the other Halloweens except for telling the back story and explaining things, and this one, Halloween II, is Rob’s version of it, which is totally different. In this one, you get to see inside the mind of the serial killer and just how he thinks and perceives himself, which is kind of creepy because Michael Myers perceives himself as this ten year old little boy getting ready to go out trick-or-treating before he turned evil, so to speak, and he’s talking to his mother, or thinks he’s talking to his mother, and sees her, the only woman who’s ever loved him. So he perceives himself as total innocence while he’s committing all these brutal murders. At the same time you’re seeing the downward spiral into total madness of Laurie Strode, Scout’s character, and how the two worlds parallel each other, which is very interesting. I compare the second one to tragedy, because everyone is affected by it, and no one comes out unscathed. You might get away with your life, but that life is going to be forever changed and scarred.
B: It would be interesting to see how Rob would handle writing further interaction between the two in another sequel. You’re opening your own production company, as well, with some pretty cool-sounding stuff already in the works. What’s going on right now with that?
TM: Yeah, I’ve opened Mane Entertainment and we’ve got our first project slated out of approximately four or five other projects. The first one is called Pennance Lane, and it is a horror/thriller that is basically about a con getting released from prison and getting a second chance at life, but first he has to take a walk down Pennance Lane, and what he finds behind the walls of a dilapidated house on Pennance Lane turns out to be a little more than he bargained for.
B: Rumor has it that there’s a “mind-blowing” surprise director. What do we have to do to get it out of you?
TM: Nope, not letting that cat out of the bag just yet. I have to keep some secrets!
B: So you’ve got several more projects on the table. Will you continue to work with Rob?
TM: I would love to work with Rob again. Every experience I’ve had working with him has been nothing but fantastic. As a director, he let’s you do what you need to do to get your performance out. He understands because he is a performer, and I think that’s very important. He doesn’t just box you into a certain idea of your character and say “Ok, this is what we’re doing.” He let’s you develop it and bring that character to life, which is very, very important.
B: Are the future projects taking shape in your mind likely to be more horror films, or are you looking to explore multiple genres?
TM: They’re going to be multiple genres, though there are a few more that will fall into the horror/thriller category.
B: Did you grow up watching horror films or was there a particular genre that inspired you to want to act?
TM: You know, I was a big fan of the action flicks of the late 70s and 80s, like Predator, Rambo, Conan. When I was a little kid, I remember going to the theater and seeing Jaws and when I came home, I was afraid to go into the bathtub, so that’s how much of a horror fan I was. But I slowly developed into one.
B: That’ s grown over time, then.
TM: Well, yes, it’s all about easing into it.
B: And you’re doing ok with swimming and taking baths now?
TM: Yeah, I’m ok with that now.
B: Just checking.
TM: But you know, I do still stay out of the ocean, what does that say?
B: I’m guessing no black bottom pools for you either then, huh?
TM: Oh, hell no, if I went near one of those, I’d hear the music!
B: Ok, have to be able to see the though it to swim in it, got it. You’ve been acting for quite a while and, in addition to movies, you’ve also done some TV?
TM: Yeah, I did some TV and I was Sabertooth in the X-Men, and King Ajax in Troy, Joe Dirt, Scorpion King, How To Make A Monster. I’ve actually been in the business since ‘86.
B: Your role as production company owner opens up so many more doors for you. Are there any particular actors or directors that you’ve always wanted to work with that you’re looking to bring on board?
TM: You know, I don’t sit there and think “Oh, I wish I could work with so and so.” If the person’s right for the project, that seems to make more sense and if there is someone that’s right, I’ll definitely approach them and see if they’re interested.
B: Is Pennance Lane actually in production now?
TM: Yeah, it was written by a comic book artist with me in mind and, at the time, my wife, Renae Geerlings, was the editor-in-chief of Top Cow Comics and she’s now the president of Mane Entertainment, and she also works with Radical Productions. But he was trying to figure out how to get the script to me and he told my wife about it, and she said ‘Well, I just might be able to get it to him,’ and he was like, ‘Well how are you going to do that?’ and she said ‘I’m married to him.’
B: Talk about going directly to the source.
TM: Yeah, you know it’s kind of a small world.
B: That it is. You recently finished another movie, Gunless. What can you tell us about that?
TM: Yeah, I went from being a serial killer to a blacksmith in a comedy/western where it turns out that I get to be a good guy. Really a lot of fun.
B: Nice change. Is that hitting theaters soon?
TM: I think they have a March 2010 date for that to be released, but I’m not exactly sure.
B: You must be getting a lot of scripts after the Halloween movies.
TM: Yeah, unfortunately I don’t have time to read them all. I’m just so busy trying to keep things moving forward with my company, but I try to eventually get around to looking at all of them.
B: And you also have a pretty extensive background in pro-wrestling.
TM: Yeah, I did several years of martial arts then I went into pro-wrestling for about eleven years.
B: Are you completely retired from that, or is it something you’d like to do here and there again?
TM: Oh no, I hung up my boots and walked away.
B: No plans to bring Michael Myers to the ring?
TM: No they won’t let me bring my knife which would kind of ruin it!
B: Well, of course, what’s the point if he can’t kill anybody? The hell with the folding chair!
B: I noticed that you have an announcement up that you don’t Twitter, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. I’m all for networking, but I think the whole status update with every taken breath thing has gotten a bit out of control.
TM: Yeah, I really don’t have time to tell people I’m going to the bathroom now. It’s gotten a little too crazy. I do myspace, though, and some on Facebook, which are really good for marketing and getting your product out to the masses, and it’s great that you can get out there internationally, as well. It’s really become the way of the future, where before you could maybe get into a newspaper or at the most, nationally. But I also have my website (see links) and there’s also going to be a Mane Entertainment and also a Pennance Lane website coming up real soon, and we will have a myspace page for Mane Entertainment.
B: Cool, we’ll spread the word. This is actually the first actor/film feature in Blast Magazine which, up until now, has been a rock-based music publication. We love a lot of the music that Rob had in the Halloween movies. Are you into it, too?
TM: Oh yeah, absolutely, I’m old school rock all the way. I’ll listen to Rush, Skynyrd, Def Leppard, all of it. I used to play a little bit of guitar and the tenor sax way back when, but I wasn’t really good enough to take that to any level, so I hung it up. But, of course, as a kid I had the dream of being the big rock star.
B:I think everybody was going to be a rock star back then.
TM: Ain’t that the truth! Besides, I don’t have time to tour anymore.
B: Yeah, I can see where that would be a little challenging time-wise for you at this point. You’re also involved in quite a bit of charity work, also, which is great.
TM: Yeah, I’ve been very lucky and I believe that you should give back to people. I work with The Heart Foundation, which is very dear to me because my father passed away from a heart attack.
B: So sorry to hear that.
TM: Thanks, and I also help with The Cancer Society, and Ronald McDonald House and Lili Claire Foundation.
B: Always nice to hear that people helping out. Anything you’d like to put out there for fans, future victims?
TM: Future victims, don’t bother running, ‘cause that’ll just piss me off and fans, thank you so much for you support and keep watching!!
B: Tyler, thanks very much for taking time out to chat today, it’s been great talking with you.
TM: Great talking with you, as well, Meri, thanks.
Ok, that about does it. We’ll be bringing you more on Mane Entertainent and Pennance Lane as news comes in. Many thanks again to Tyler for a great interview and for sharing info on those charities noted. We’re asking our interview subjects around the world to share some of those they support to help us raise awareness about as many of them as possible. Please take a second to check out the links below to find out how you can help, too. Thanks, as always, for hanging with us. Til next time….
(Too funny not to post…take a look!)
www.rmhc.org (Ronald McDonald House Charities)