I really don’t think I need to explain to anyone reading this who Bill Moseley is. He is one of the most stalwart icons of horror cinema acting right now. The man has seemingly been in EVERYTHING since way back in 1982 when he got his first small role in a film called “Endangered Species”. Of course, his next film was the one in which he started his streak of unforgettable roles in horror films. That film was “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2″ in which he played the unforgettable role of “Choptop” Sawyer. Since then he’s gone on to make his face a very familiar one in a whole slew of (Mainly horror) films and he’s out promoting his latest one, “The Tortured“, right now. In this film he plays John Kozlowski, a murderous pedophile who is captured by the police but is then apprehended while in police transport by a young couple (Jesse Metcalfe, Erika Christensen) whose child he tortured & murdered. They plan to torture him as he tortured their child for revenge. He was kind enough to talk about his participation in the film and what it was like to play a role like this one.
HN: Mr. Mosely, I cannot tell you what an honor it is for me to speak with you today! I have been a big fan for many years!
BM: Oh good! Thank you!
HN: As much as I would love to talk with you about your entire career we’re here to talk about your latest release, “The Tortured”, so I watched it last night and the first question I’d like to ask you is what was it about this script that appealed to you?
BM: Actually the first thing that appealed to me was being approached by the producer Carl Mazzocone. We were both working on “Repo: The Genetic Opera” at the time and Carl came to me with this script & announced that he’d “Love for me to play the child killer”! I’ve got kids of my own so this wasn’t exactly a savory prospect for me but I know & love Carl so I told him I’d read the script anyway. So I read it and you know what? I thought the script was fantastic in spite of the heavy subject matter! I thought it was very interesting in the way that it basically dealt with the subject, I mean there are child molesters who do horrible things to children and who sometimes get very light prison sentences or even get off on technicalities or something like that. And the idea that the parents of a molested child would take the law into their own hands to avenge their child & administer a punishment that they feel would fit the crime is pretty compelling stuff. The idea that they wanted me to play the child killer was some kind of flattery I guess (Laughing) but at first I kinda looked at Carl in a funny way but I have had a career in which I played some pretty dark characters that go to some pretty dark places so I guess Carl’s idea that I would play this character isn’t that far fetched if you look at my resume.
HN: How did you get into the right mind frame to play such a depraved individual?
BM: It took me awhile to really get into the proper mind set to play John. He was a lot different than a lot of the characters I’ve played in the past. A lot of characters I’ve played were kind of extreme, flamboyant even humorous in a way but this person certainly wasn’t. Y’know he’a a bus driver in a small town in Vermont. Somebody who looks like the guy next door basically and the idea that he has gotten away with this for a long time means that he had to be very good at it…very subtle. So there’s nothing flamboyant about this character at all and that’s the opposite of the kind of characters I’ve played in the past. That was the big challenge, to make this person credible.
HN: Did you have a lot of input into shaping the character at all?
BM: I remember the first day that I was taken to my house on the set outside of Vancouver. The producer drove me to my house and I remember him telling me I was going to love it, it was a nondescript house on the corner of a quiet street in a small town. I remember walking up the path into the front door and as soon as I entered the house I was greeted with a sort of a “TV” room that was filled with stuffed animals, carousel horses, big clowns, all kinds of John Wayne Gacy on steroids stuff. And as I looked at all of this I was asked “What Do You Think”?, I guess they thought I was going to say (Laughing) “This is awesome! I can’t wait to kill a few kids”! But I said the only thing that’s missing was a giant neon pink sign that read “Home Of Child Killer”, I didn’t think this character should have any of this stuff in his home. If he lives in a small town and he’s the bus driver he needs to be as discreet as humanly possible so NONE of this stuff needs to be here, he needs to be as normal looking as anybody else in this town. The only thing I suggested was that there be a puppy in the living room and that instead of a leash around it’s neck it should have a measure of twine instead and it’s tied to the leg of a chair or something. And there ought to be some random newspapers with some bits of dry dog food strewn about on them. And what we establish is that the puppy really isn’t a friend or a pet, it’s more of a prop. It’s a sort of fishing lure used to lure kids from the playground into his home. So I said let’s get rid of all the dolls, stuffed animals & hobby horses. It really was an evolution to try & find John Kozlowski, to find a character that was cinematically interesting and had some dimensions to him. I also ended up thinking about JonBenet Ramsey (The young girl who was mysteriously found dead in her home eight hours after she was reported missing by her parents)& her status as a little beauty queen before the tragedy that befell her so I ended up borrowing my younger daughter’s tiara (Laughing) and I took some makeup lessons from my girlfriend because I thought maybe this character had multiple personalities going on in his head. Maybe he was a bus driver during the day and maybe the child killer is a voice in his head and maybe that was the voice of an angry seven year old little girl! There was a real evolution to the character in my mind because I had to find something in him that was interesting for me to play. Something that was dark yet subtle & outrageous all at the same time and in the end I think I nailed it.
HN: Since your character was so repugnant did you hang out with the other cast members during production or did you keep your distance in order to stay in character?
BM: You know I don’t work that way, I don’t need to keep my distance in situations like that and I never really have. The only distance I tried to keep was with the kid in the film. I’ve done a couple of jobs where I’m the “Scary Guy” and if I’m nice to the kid in those roles then I sort of become the parent to the kid and I’m not mean to kids as a general rule so I find that if I’m nice or if they can come up to me and ask me how I’m doing then when it comes time to shoot a scene where their supposed to be terrified then it becomes harder for them. With kids I don’t try to bedevil them (Laughing) but I do try to stay away and keep my distance so that they can stay afraid if it’s called for in a certain scene. With the adults…well we did a couple of things together, Jesse Metcalfe was never particularly warm to me on the set though. I think he needed to keep his distance from me for his character but Erica was really nice to me. But I certainly understand that train of thought, If you’re got this guy who’s playing someone whose kidnapped and murdered your child you’re not going to necessarily want to go hang out at the motel bar with him! (Laughing)
HN: I’d like to ask you about the ending of the film for a minute. I watched it last night with a friend and don’t know if you’ve gotten any feedback about the film at all but my friend was incensed at the way it ended! I thought it was offbeat & different but I understood where she was coming from with her opinion. She didn’t feel it was very believable because (SPOILER ALERT) there could be no way that the couple could mistake the person they had kidnapped as anyone other than the man who killed their child. They sat through the trial & saw his face every day on TV & in the newspaper so how on Earth could they make a mistake and be torturing the wrong person? How do you feel about this response?
BM: I think the difficulty is accepting the fact that (SPOILER ALERT) in the accident where they kidnap who they believe to be John his face is all smashed up so that kind of adds the dimension of it being a possibility. Also I’ve heard some compliments that the makeup was so good that it was really me on that table from more than a few people, I was actually only on that table for maybe ten seconds! The actor who played the person being tortured is a friend of mine named Bill Lippincott, in fact I was the one who suggested him because we really do look alike and he lives in L.A. and they were looking for someone to double me. Whenever I see him, which is fairly often here in L.A., I always pat him on the back or shake his hand because I think it’s great that he ended up being on that table instead of me! (Laughing) But I can see how that could piss people off though but I think that also because of the nature of the story, if you do the same thing to someone who did it to your child, does that make you the same person he is? What is revenge? Is there any kind of release in it or does it just bring you down to their level? In terms of the story, I think it’s a cool twist but in terms of whether we pulled it off that’s on the shoulders of the directing, acting & the makeup. Bill did a great job screaming & being tortured the whole time and ultimately I was very happy that I wasn’t going to be the one going through all of that stuff!
HN: He was really good and I thought it was you on the table the whole time!
BM: Man, he was excellent!
HN: Have you ever heard of a French film called “7 Days”?
BM: No, I’ve never heard of it.
HN: I hadn’t heard of it before this morning actually. Apparently it is extremely similar to “The Tortured” and I was wondering if you had heard of it after the fact.
BM: Which came first? Do you know?
HN: The French film. “7 Days” came first apparently.
BM: I’ve never even heard of it myself.
HN: One last question, looking back on your career and the roles that you’ve played in the past you’ve nearly always played some sort of “Odd” or “Weird” person. I’m sure they exist but the only film I can think of off the top of my head where you played a regular person is “Dead Air”. Does it bother you that you seem to be the “Go To” guy for playing these kind of roles? Would you like to play the “Next Door Neighbor” or a “Mailman” one day? Just an ordinary person?
BM: (Laughing) Are you offering me a job? I have to say it doesn’t bother me because the roles I get are interesting. Let me go back to a Disney movie I did some years back called “White Fang”(1991). That starred Ethan Hawke and Klaus Maria Brandauer and an actor by the name of James Remar who is still a good friend of mine to this day. I had just done “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2″ & the “Night Of The Living Dead” remake that Tom Savini directed and I was talking to James one day when I had told him that I was worried that I was going to be pigeonholed as the “Creepy” guy. James looked at me and told me that I’d be “Lucky” to be pigeonholed as that guy (Laughing)! My first reaction was “Shit…Fuck you dude” but then I realized he was saying something that was important because it’s hard to be a working actor in Hollywood and I guess I am lucky to be pigeonholed because I’ve played in a lot of horror movies. In Hollywood success breeds success so if you play these different parts in horror movies then people in that genre are going to be more aware of you and most importantly more excited about working with you in a project they’re working on and I’m totally happy with that. I’m a horror fan and I like horror movies and their fans. I’m very glad as a horror fan to be able to give back to what I consider the “Long Suffering Horror Fan”. A lot of times we have high expectations about things that don’t seem to pan out and what I try to do is give my best every time out no matter how the film ends up turning out and it’s fun! It’s fun to play the bad guy for me. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun for me to play the “Next Door Neighbor” or the “Mailman” (Laughing) but for me the roles I play are a ball! You know I live in L.A. and I get behind the wheel of my car & I shake my fist in anger every so often but I get to work all of that anger out in my roles!
“The Tortured” is coming soon to DVD/Blu Ray from Twisted pictures.
Interview: Bill Moseley (The Tortured) 2012