In a world of celebrities and superstars, it might be hard to think there are any unsung heroes in Hollywood. Believe it or not, one of those unsung heroes happens to be one of the most recognizable faces in horror. In the original Halloween, notorious spree killer Michael Myers was brought to life by an actor named Nick Castle. Castle’s portrayal of The Shape permanently enshrined him in the nightmares of film-goers the world over, yet many of this Hollywood misfit’s greatest achievements have gone unrecognized. Castle actually has quite an impressive resume of films and scripts, including some of the most memorable in our childhoods.
The Carpenter Years
One can’t talk about Nick Castle without talking about John Carpenter, as it was his collaborations with Carpenter that served as the springboard for his career. Castle and Carpenter became friends while attending USC, so when Carpenter was directing a new feature in 1977, Castle was eager to help out. Carpenter cast his close friend as the now infamous Michael Myers, making Halloween the first of several noteworthy collaborations.
Castle took a far more central role in one of Carpenter’s biggest hits, Escape from New York. In the classic dystopian thriller, Castle didn’t serve as an actor. Instead, he was a writer. Carpenter and Castle collaborated on the script, which proved a sizable hit for both. Castle credits the film with giving him a greater presence in the film industry.
I went my own way pretty soon after that. “Escape” really helped launch my career as a writer/director, so from there I just kind of took off on my own.Nick Castle
But even as Castle and Carpenter went their separate ways, the pair still found ways to collaborate. One of their most unique projects was not a film, but a band the pair had along with mutual friend Tommy Lee Wallace, future director of 1990’s It. The band, known as the Coupe De Villes, released a few albums, and even recorded a few songs for Carpenter’s films. The most significant song they produced was the theme to Big Trouble In Little China, which Carpenter also directed the music video for.
That was fun, man. Not only did we perform it, but we got to do a very early version of a rock video. I know that it was pretty hilarious. Prior to that, we’d always been doing music together, even starting in film school. John and I and Tommy Wallace would do the wrap parties, too. We put together some songs and entertained the crews and the cast. So we had fun. We had fun with that.Nick Castle.
Nick Castle: Director
After Escape from New York, Nick Castle went on to direct a number of beloved cult classics throughout the 80s and 90s. Most of them were more lighthearted and comedic, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who know Nick Castle personally. More of a goofball, Castle’s viewed his horror work as an important stepping stone so he could explore his true passion: comedy.
I didn’t have any of that kind of secret glee or something that I was somehow playing both sides of the line of entertainment here, you know, like comedy and horror. And my horror experiences, you may know, it was pretty much a fluke, so I guess I gravitated toward the light side.Nick Castle
As with most new filmmakers, Castle’s early works were mixed, but he struck gold in the early 80s when he directed one of the most beloved science fiction films of the decade. The Last Starfighter did pretty well at the box office when it was first released, and became a sizable hit on the home video market. The film also marked a significant collaboration for several of Castle’s fellow Halloween alumni, with Lance Guest and Dan O’Herlihy of Halloween II and III starring in the film.
In the years that followed, Nick Castle directed a number of cult favorites and box office hits. In the 80s he directed such unusual films as The Boy Who Could Fly and Tap. In the 90s he branched out further into comedy, directing such hits as Major Payne and Dennis the Menace. While his resume as a director is impressive, it’s Castle’s writing that lead to one of the most significant, and beloved films of his career.
Would you believe that the man who played Michael Myers created Hook? Frank Sanello’s biography on Steven Spielberg (aptly titled Spielberg) tells a fascinating story about Castle’s long involvement in the project. A passion project of the writer/director, Castle developed the script throughout the 80s, and was even in line to direct the film as late as 1990.
At one point I was going to direct. I worked on two drafts, basically, with Jim Hart, who came up with the storyline and the idea of the movie.Nick Castle
Nick Castle intended for the film to be more akin to something like Raiders of the Lost Ark when he was in line to direct. The project grew exponentially once Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams became involved, and eventually lead to Spielberg coming on to direct. In spite of the project changing hands, the final film retains all the core elements of Castle’s script. Castle received story credit for the movie, and earned a six figure salary. His involvement in Hook is not known to many, but there are some fans who delight in knowing the madman from Halloween also had a hand in creating one of the most beloved films of the 90s.
Oh yeah, a lot of people love that movie. I get that a lot at some of these convention signings. They bring that the poster and what not, even when it’s more for “Halloween” and horror films it’ll still comes up from time to time.Nick Castle
Castle’s last noteworthy film was August Rush, which he wrote along with James V. Hart. After that, Castle went into semi retirement before returning to the Halloween series in the 2018 sequel directed by David Gordon Green. Following the success of that film, Castle was signed on to participate in this year’s Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends in 2021. Castle has shown great enthusiasm since returning to the series that helped launch his career, which helped him re-connect with close friend John Carpenter. Castle has even expressed interest in stepping behind the camera once more with his old friend.
I’d love to do another classic with John, though. When you interview him, tell him that I want to work with him.Nick Castle
As he prepares to work on Halloween Ends, Castle spends much of his time playing with his pet cat Michael Meowers, and yes, that’s the cat’s real name. Having met Nick Castle, I can say that he’s a warm, funny, and charming person who’s not at all like the character he played in 1978. In may ways, Castle’s other films, from The Last Starfighter to Hook, are far more genuine expressions of the man behind the mask.
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