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How Nick Castle transformed into Halloween's Michael Myers

Some folks insist on calling him the Shape. Others will always know him as the O.G. Michael Myers. In the real world, his name is Nick Castle, and by all accounts, he's a heck of a nice guy.

In 1978, a then-unknown Nick Castle first gave shape to the Shape in John Carpenter's iconic horror flick Halloween – in the process almost unwittingly establishing the groundwork for slasher film psychos to come. Castle did as much without a single line of dialogue. He also did so behind a mask that may or may not have been modeled after actor William Shatner's face. Still, Castle — who at the time was focused on becoming a director and had little interest in acting — managed to bring an unnerving energy to the role that would ultimately make him a seminal figure in the horror world forever.

Though Castle didn't reprise his role in any of the Halloween sequels or reboots produced between 1981 and 2009, the horror world nearly imploded when it was announced he'd don the mask and overalls once again for David Gordon Green's 2018 sequel, also titled Halloween. The announcement left many fans wondering if Castle (now in his 70s) could still bring the murderous heat as Laurie Strode's (Jamie Lee Curtis) masked tormenter. Turns out, it didn't take much to get back into Michael Myers mode for the new movie — since transforming into the infamous masked murder for the original film was a breeze. 

Here's how Nick Castle became Halloween's Michael Myers.

How Nick Castle landed the role of Michael Myers

Castle explained during an October 2018 appearance on Subplot Short with Jesse Shapiro that he sort of stumbled into playing Michael Myers in the original film. He was friends with John Carpenter for some time before the young auteur set out to bring Halloween to the big screen, even appearing in an uncredited cameo in Carpenter's debut film Dark Star. When Carpenter and co. went into production on Halloween, Castle asked his buddy if he could hang around set and watch him work, hoping the experience would "demystify" what directing is really like and make him less afraid to continue with his burgeoning career behind the camera. Rather than just have his pal hanging about, though, Carpenter asked him to stand in for the Myers role, which hadn't been cast yet. The rest, as they say, is history.

Michael Myers' walk and head tilt were most important

As for how Carpenter got his non-actor buddy into the menacing mind of Michael Myers, Castle noted that there wasn't much direction other than "walk there," or "tilt your head." That "tilt your head" moment has since become a fan-favorite element of Carpenter's original — so much so that Halloween reboot director David Gordon Green brilliantly called back to it in the 2018 movie. 

Carpenter himself has since clarified his approach to casting Castle in the role and helping him become Michael Myers, noting his pal's peculiar stride as a key element in bringing the baddie to life. He told Entertainment Weekly in October 2018, "We were buddies in film school, and I knew him, and he just has a grace to him. And his dad was a choreographer. I don't know if he learned anything from his father, but he moved in a way that nobody else moves like."

Castle chimed in thereafter, saying, "What I really did was listen to what John told me to do. He was really very much puppeteering. It was John telling me, 'Go fast,' 'Go slow,' 'Tilt your head,' and puppeteering me through the thing."

Prepping to play Michael Myers in 2018's Halloween

In 2017, a video surface on Twitter that showed Castle wearing a Michael Myers mask and holding a huge knife while walking on a treadmill — signaling that he was more than capable of reprising his role in the 2018 movie. There's little question that Castle's gait is a big part of what makes Michael Myers, ya know, Michael Myers, so it makes sense that most of the actor's pre-production prep work involves ambling across a treadmill. Walking in a brooding-yet-purposeful fashion is sort of Myers' thing — outside of offing unsuspecting teens and desperately trying to get that butcher's knife into Laurie Strode's back, front, or side, of course.

Even so, savvy Halloween-heads (that's a thing, right?) are often quick to point out the difference in that walk throughout the Halloween sequels, with some even noticing the difference in Green's latest chapter. As we've come to find out, actor James Jude Courtney did the vast majority of the walking and stalking in the movie, with the head tilt scene in Green's Halloween marking the only moment in the film where Castle is actually playing the part. (Castle did, however, provide the creepy breathing sounds throughout the film.)

Getting ready for Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends

In September 2019, Castle repeated history by posting a clip of himself wielding a knife and creepily walking on his home treadmill, staring at the camera with his Michael Myers mask covering his face. Obviously, the video was meant to tease that he's preparing to become the Shape again for 2020's Halloween Kills and 2021's Halloween Ends, the sequels to the 2018 reboot that entered production the week of September 10.

It's worth noting that both Castle and Courtney are scheduled to appear as Michael Myers in those films. It's also worth pointing out that the second of the two sequels is said to put an official end to the Michael Myers/Laurie Strode storyline, so it remains to be seen whether Castle's time as Myers is coming to a close as well.  

Either way, with Jamie Lee Curtis seemingly retiring the role that helped make her a scream queen, it may be time for Castle to officially turn the role of the Shape over to Courtney. Whether or not that happens is still up in the air. 

For Castle's part, it appears he's taking to heart what may be his two final turns behind the eerie mask. If the hilarious post from Castle's Twitter page is any indication, the actor is doing his best to get into, ahem, shape for Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends – and maybe doing a bit more walking this go-around. In the meantime, we'll have to wait until Halloween Kills makes its premiere on October 16, 2020 to see Castle in action.