Exclusive: Bill Moseley Talks The Tortured, Exit Humanity, and More
Bill Moseley is one hell of a busy guy. In the last twelve months alone he's performed in The Devil's Carnival, the upcoming sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, two episodes of FEARnet's popular network series "Holliston" and a handful of other genre films as well.
Moseley is now keeping himself busy doing the publicity rounds for two recent releases- The Tortured, which recently hit VOD platforms everywhere via IFC Films, and Exit Humanity, which also recently debuted on DVD courtesy of Bloody Disgusting Selects.
Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with Moseley about both The Tortured (review) and Exit Humanity (review) - two wildly different films. In the first the actor portrays child killer John Kozlowski, who ends up at the mercy of the parents after a prison break goes awry and they capture him for their own twisted kind of revenge. In the latter Moseley plays the dastardly General Williams, a Southern patriot who is caught in the midst of a zombie outbreak during the Civil War who thinks he has a handle on the growing zombie population around him.
During our interview we heard from the actor about what attracted him to both roles and his experiences working on both films as well as what's the latest on several upcoming projects including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, Manson Girls and the second installment of Darren Bousman's The Devil's Carnival.
Dread Central: Let's talk a little bit about how you got involved with The Tortured- since that's Twisted (Pictures), I would guess that Repo! (the Genetic Opera) was a factor in this.
Bill Moseley: Indeed it was! I originally heard about this movie back when I was working on Repo! and Carl (Mazzocone) the producer came up to me and said that he had a great script, a movie about a child killer and pedophile who’s tortured and said that he wanted me to play the child molester and murderer. I don't know exactly what kind of compliment that is (laughing), but because Carl is a great guy, I agreed to read the script.
It's definitely not a role you exactly go out looking for, especially because I am a parent so it's a hard subject matter for sure, but the script was really great and I knew I wanted to be a part of it after talking more to Carl about what we could do with the character. I love Carl- he's also producing the new Texas Chainsaw movie so he's a good guy who always keeps me working (laughs).
Dread Central: I wanted to talk more about something that you just touched upon- the fact that this character is a child molester. How do you go about fleshing out such a non-redeemable character like this? I know we've seen you play some depraved characters before- like Otis- but there was just something really unsettling about seeing you in make-up and a tiara like we do in The Tortured. I hope that comes off like the compliment it is meant to be (laughs).
Bill Moseley: I'll take it as a compliment- thanks! (laughs) But the make-up and tiara were all my idea; John as a character really didn't have many lines in the final script so I wanted to make sure he had his moments that would establish just how messed up this guy was. I borrowed the tiara from my daughter, and my girlfriend Lucinda (Jenney) gave me some make-up tips. Both of those helped make this character what he was; I imagined him with a lot of splintered personalities, and this one was a JonBenet (Ramsey) kind of beauty queen who just thought little boys were the filthiest things ever and fought with her abusive father a lot. I thought it really worked well.
Dread Central: I would agree- and it couldn't have been an easy role to approach either because if you go too far one way, it goes into caricature territory, and if you go too far the other way, you risk the integrity of the character.
Bill Moseley: It was a difficult character to nail down; I remember coming to work one day and the production staff and crew were very excited to show me John's house and I thought that was kind of cool because it would help me get in this guy's head more. But when I got there, the living room was just packed with stuffed animals and clowns and all kinds of crazy kid stuff that pretty much screamed out- CHILD KILLER LIVES HERE (laughs). It wasn't subtle at all.
I told them that I needed all of that stuff gone; this movie takes place in a small town so anyone with just a small amount of intelligence would make their house look completely normal so that they fit in with everyone else in the neighborhood. John wouldn't want any attention; the only thing that I really thought John should have is a cute little dog, like a little poodle or something like that, which was basically a prop that he would use at the playground to lure a kid into patting the dog. Thankfully, the production actually went along with that, which made it a lot easier to play John in some ways.
Dread Central: I would say it was all effectively creepy- especially for me.
Bill Moseley: You know who wasn't creeped out? The little boy that my character John kidnaps- Thomas (Greenwood). I really had to work to get him scared of me (laughs). There is a scene where I come in to do something horrible to him, but every time I would come in, he just couldn't get scared. It wasn't registering- I'd open the door and that fear needed for the scene to work just was not there. But we have the boy’s mother is on the set so we took her aside and mentioned that we were having trouble with him being scared and asked her for suggestions.
So it turns out that the one thing this kid is afraid of is Chucky from Child’s Play, and as it turns out, the art director just happens to have a big cutout of a Chucky face. So we do the scene again and finally when I jump in the room, the kid’s eyes go wide and he gets scared and the reason being is that I have a giant Chucky face pinned to my shirt. Chucky saved the day!
Dread Central: Are there scenes that didn't make the cut in The Tortured- anything else that would give us some insight into your character?
Bill Moseley: Yes, and I think the film would impact audiences differently if it had been left in there because it gives a moral compass- so to speak- for Jesse (Metcalfe) and Erika's (Christensen) characters. It's another court scene where they go over a laundry list of things that happened to the child while the parents and everyone is sitting there listening. It's horrendous and that's the list that the parents use while torturing John in the movie; I think it shows that there was specifically an eye for an eye response from the parents in their violent acts, and when you take that out of the movie, it becomes harder for the audience to identify with the parents. So I wish that had stayed in, but I know they took it out because the pedophile angle of the story was really touchy for everyone and reading that list would certainly have elevated that aspect of my character. So it got cut.
Dread Central: Well, let's talk about another movie that you did which is the polar opposite of The Tortured- Exit Humanity. Since one of your more beloved roles for longtime fans is Johnnie in Savini's Night of the Living Dead, how much fun was it to return to the zombie subgenre on a movie that was a completely different take than what's currently going on out there?
Bill Moseley: I just did Dead Souls, too, which is another zombie movie, but yes- Exit Humanity is very, very different. That's what I really loved about it; it really seems like zombies and the Civil War were made for each other (laughs). But I saw just how ambitious making a Civil War era movie independently that also required a lot of zombie and gore effects would be, and I really responded to that kind of energy.
The one thing I require to be a happy camper while working is that the creative forces-that-be really have to be into their work. And I can tell you that there was a lot of zombie love going on during Exit Humanity- by John (director Geddes) and the whole cast and crew, too. Even the people who volunteered for zombie duty were so gung ho for everything! I'm sure they had a much different idea of what being a zombie would entail before they showed up, but no one ever complained.
In fact, there were a lot of local volunteers who sat for hours- not only in the makeup chair but huddling together in usually wet or chilly circumstances. We shot in Canada so it did get chilly, but everyone really did a great job on this movie, and I think it was everybody's enthusiasm that made this such a great movie.
Dread Central: Let's talk about your character in this- General Williams; he's another bad guy, but he's got an entirely different agenda (once again) than any of your previous villainous roles.
Bill Moseley: Yeah, General Williams is a guy who thinks that the South shall rise again and will finally win the war; he is obsessed with that. But he's also a guy who has figured out what the zombie outbreak is all about so he's working on finding a cure and also finding a way to control these things for his own undead army purposes. Whether there's a war or not, he's always going to be 'The General' so if he can't command the troops, he wants to command zombies. He was a really interesting character to me.
Dread Central: Speaking of interesting characters, can you talk more about two of your upcoming projects- Manson Girls, which has you playing Charlie, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, which has you stepping into the franchise as Drayton Sawyer, not ChopTop like in Hooper's Part Two.
Bill Moseley: Well, I just did ADR for Texas Chainsaw Massacre a couple of weeks ago and I guess we're now coming out early in January 2013. It's a really unusual sequel, though, because it picks up right where the original leaves off. We're not acknowledging the other sequels at all in this one because of all the rights issues. But I'm playing Drayton and taking over for the dear departed Jim Siedow, which feels a bit like making a Three Stooges remake and asking Curly to play Moe, but either way I was honored. And fans will get a bit more about what happened when the original ended, and then there is a flash-forward eventually to modern times and we see how that plays out. That's all I can really say for that.
And for Manson Girls, I know that they're still fundraising on that. Susanna (director Lo) just shot a trailer for it just to get some interest going on it, and what was really cool about it is that I got to record a cover of The Doors' song "Five to One" with Guy Allison (of The Doobie Brothers) for it, which was great. But I think they're still trying to lock down all the funding, but I know I'm excited to be playing Charlie.
Dread Central: One last question- have you heard any news on the Devil's Carnival front? I've noticed some cryptic and teasing tweets over the last week or so about some potential news.
Bill Moseley: You know, I don't really know for sure what is going on except that I know Part Two has been written, and I believe The Magician has a song in it, too. That's all I've heard so far, but I'm hoping Part Two gets to happen soon.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Get busy in the comments section below.