With a career that spans almost three decades, Bill Moseley has been responsible for terrifying movie audiences with some of the most maniacal characters to ever hit the silver screen. Bill’s portrayals of Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and more recently Otis in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects were phenomenal and have contributed to him becoming a modern day icon of the horror genre. Bill Moseley recently sat down with Icon vs. Icon‘s Steve Johnson to discuss his past, his career as an actor and musician, his upcoming films Dead Air, The Graves and The Devil’s Tomb, and how lucky he is to have carved out such a notable career in the film industry. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself for anything but dead air!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Connecticut and then grew up in a town called Barrington, Illinois.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in film?
Well, you know, probably not until I actually started getting some movie jobs. [laughs] It never really occurred to me that that was even a possibility of a career. I come from a family of basically railroad men and bankers and people with so called real jobs. So, I never really imagined that there was a career to be had in movies. I’m sure if I sat down, I would have said yes people can make money at movies, like Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck, but that certainly wasn’t encouraged in my family. It wasn’t discouraged, it just wasn’t even part of the landscape.
Did you have any influences, be it other actors or otherwise?
Yeah, certainly after I had seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Back in I think it was in ’75 when I first saw it. I actually saw it in the theater on a double bill with Enter the Dragon, an old Bruce Lee movie. I think it was in Boston in the combat zone. Actually what really freaked me out, there was one performance in that movie. That movie freaked me out and really changed the course of my life. I would say the standout performance in that movie that really freaked me out was Ed Neal playing the hitchhiker. At the time, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was so different and so strong, that it really freaked me out that there could be a person like that. I never for a minute doubted that wasn’t the real Ed Neal. I was just stunned. That ended up of course shaping… I did a homage to Ed in a short film I did called The Texas Chainsaw Manicure. And then of course when I… however unlikely, it was like a million to one shot that I was offered the part of Chop Top in Chainsaw 2. So much of Chop Top was based on Ed Neal.
Your most memorable character has to be Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Did you have any input into the development of the character or was it laid out for you in the script?
Chop Top was pretty much laid out in so far that Tobe Hooper and Kit Carson had come up with this character, this twin of the hitchhiker that had been in Vietnam during the original Chainsaw Massacre. That he had gotten a head wound by a “gook with a machete,” as they say in Chainsaw 2. So some Vietcong whacked Chop-Top on the head with a machete and they had put a metal plate in his head. Presumably the scalp had grown over the metal plate, but then it itched. What also came with the character was the idea that he would itch it with a coat hanger. The most satisfying way to itch the head wound was to heat the coat hanger first with a little cricket lighter. That all came with it and then a lot of fantastic, strange dialogue. When I got to the set, the script was maybe right around three quarters finished. So, a lot of what we did was improvised. For that I was very grateful that that was my first big movie experience and that Tobe Hooper was kinda of a director secure enough in his own skills that he encouraged that improvisation. So I ended up coming up with a bunch of stuff in the moment, just because I really kinda was Chop Top there. So whatever came out of my mouth was kinda coming out organically as Chop Top. A lot of lines, especially in the radio station like “E.X.I.T., Exit,” “Lick My Plate You Dog Dick,” and “Humble Pie” are just a bunch of stuff that were happening in the moment that kinda verballed out of me. It was actually one of the most organic jobs I’ve ever had just because it all just seemed to really flow from this weird reality that we were creating.
What was it like being a part of the sequel to what is considered to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time?
It was not only a great thrill, really it was like winning the lottery for me to get cast because again, I never auditioned for it. I was cast from the basis of a friend of mine having walked The Texas Chainsaw Manicure into Tobe a couple of years earlier. So I got this part based on a 30 second cameo in The Texas Chainsaw Manicure. Based on that, that already was just overwhelming. It was mind blowing. Again, it was like winning the lottery, just against all odds. Right from the get go, I was already pretty starry eyed. What was also amazing, was that I had really been freaked out by the Chainsaw Massacre. When I saw it, it just really threw up a deep wedge into my brain that I really couldn’t get over. I had tried to exorcise this weird influence. It was a negative one. It freaked me out about rural America. [laughs] You know Texas… Just about all of the elements in that original movie really profoundly affected me and I had tried to exorcise it by seeing it a bunch of times. So I ended up seeing it probably a dozen times just to try to make it so familiar that it lost its power over me, but that just really kinda increased it. Another element was showing up on the set and seeing Jim Siedow in the parking lot of the motor lodge where we were all staying and realizing, oh my god, I am part of this group now, I’m part of the family. That right there was really what healed me of this deep fear of the chainsaw bunch. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. So that part of it was also in play. Of course, I got the moment, the sense that this was going to be the sequel to that and we had that kind of sacred trust to carry the message and make it just as cool. We had a pretty high bar to jump. I was up for that too. Put it all together and really I was very excited. Plus they shaved my head, so I also felt like a total… I wasn’t like a geek, but I was completely disoriented, which actually was great. I didn’t come into it with any kinda of “hey man, watch out” because my hair was gone and that was pretty shocking to a young man. [laughs] I was somewhere between a moonie and a marine. That also kinda uprooted me from any kind of personality or who I am identity that might have gotten in the way of giving myself to Chop Top.
You have become closely associated with the horror genre and from a fan’s perspective, you become one of it’s modern icons. Do you feel like you want to stay in the realm of horror or would you like to look for roles outside of the genre?
I remember I was talking to my buddy, an actor named James Remar and I was talking about not wanting the get pigeon holed in my acting career. I think we were talking about horror, maybe. So I was worried about getting pigeon holed. He turned to me and he looked at me with kinda mild contempt I guess and looked at me and said “you’d be lucky to be pigeon holed.” [laughs] Whatever attitude I had about it got properly sorted out. I love horror movies. It is my favorite genre by far. I’ve always loved it since I was a kid. What I have loved is not only the opportunity to act, but also the opportunity to do good work in the genre. A lot of times people kind of treat the genre with less respect than serious dramatic films and independent and this kind of genre and that kind of approach. I love the genre, so I don’t goof on it and I don’t think of it as like, I’m not a waiter, I’m an actor who is waiting for his opportunity and that somehow justifies bad service at the restaurant. I love the horror genre. Especially now, it has been very good to me. So whenever I get a chance to act, I never forget it is an opportunity to give back and to scare the shit out of people. It’s really a lot of fun.
You have been involved in a few remakes of classic horror films. What is your feeling on the latest craze in Hollywood of remaking movies?
I don’t mind it to tell you the truth, just because it is an easy way for people to make a lot of money. If that’s their plan, that’s fine. I don’t mind too because I think the ideas for all of those movies whether it is Prom Night or Valentine’s Day or Halloween or whatever it is, those are some really cool ideas and cool movies. It’s almost like Grindhouse. You have Quentin Tarantino spending seventy million bucks or whatever it was, to make what was supposed to be like a movie that looks like it was made for three hundred thousand dollars. That’s really what is going on here. It’s kinda started this trend of remakes where you end up with these six or eight million dollar budgets, cheap by Hollywood standards, but an enormous amount of money compared to what was spent on the originals of these different movies. All of these movies seem to make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, so for that I think it’s great. I guess the only people who benefit from it, well the people that benefit the most are of course the producers of those original movies, who probably get some kind of a deal, some kind of a piece of the box office pie. I guess it is good because it ends up doing a little bit to revive the careers of some of the actors in those movies. They obviously don’t see any kind of money from the remakes. Maybe they get some kind of a little cameo like, “Oh look, there’s Jamie Lee” in the new Halloween, although she wasn’t in it. Ultimately, I don’t have a problem with it. I guess the problem I do have is that it’s kind of been identified as a goldmine by cynical producer types and directors, who maybe don’t have the same kind of love and innocence that the original filmmakers had. Therefore, it just becomes slick, it can be denatured, so that you don’t end up with that same kind of innocent love of the genre or the story that maybe the original people had. That’s the part I don’t like. I don’t like that hip, slick, Hollywood invasion of some of the sacred ground of some of those movies. I guess it’s good in so far as it also stimulates, it reminds people that for all of the bad rap that the horror genre has gotten, that it is a goldmine.
You have worked with Rob Zombie on several films. What is it like working with Rob and would you continue working with him?
Yeah, absolutely. Rob is one of those guys, you know not every director I have worked with is like Rob or Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi, George Romero. There are some directors who share that kind of vision and respect for the genre and really just love making horror movies. Personally for me as an actor, I can bring a lot of different things to my job. If you encourage me to improvise or to collaborate I guess is the best word for it, on any given character, it makes me happy. What it says is I have confidence in you to maybe find some things that aren’t necessarily in the script. A lot of times the script really is just a blueprint. You can follow it very accurately and precisely and if it is a good script, that is going to work just fine. Sometimes you find in the moment, when you are actually shooting something, you are going to find different things, different possibilities in any given scene that haven’t been envisioned by the screenwriter because different things change, there are dynamics between actors. There’s a whole raft of reasons why you find something new. With directors like Rob, like Darren Bousman, certainly like Tobe, directors that actually encourage you to give freely of what you find so to speak, that really makes my job so much more fun.
You starred as Luigi Largo in Repo! The Genetic Opera. Can you tell us a little about the process of how you got involved in the film?
I’m friends with Darren. I was friends with him because I met him at a horror convention actually. He was a fan and I was a fan of his Saw movies, and he was a fan of some of my movies. He’s also a Kansas City boy and I am from Illinois, so we have that mid-west background in common. I was actually at a convention and I was doing a Q&A in a room that was divided by some kind of false wall down the middle of the room and I think he was on the other side of the false wall doing his own Q&A. Mine finished first and I heard through the wall, him talking about something about some kind of a play about organ repossession. I had actually seen that play back in LA, I think it was 2001 maybe. A friend of mine had taken me to this weird play on a storefront theater on Hollywood Boulevard. It was Repo! The Genetic Opera. I had enjoyed the play and then I hear Darren talking about, I think the question was “what is your next project” and he was talking about Repo. I came up to him afterwards and I said “did I see that on Hollywood Boulevard” and he said “yes, I actually directed that, that’s what I did before I did the Saw movies.” So we talked about that for a little bit. Flash forward to he gets funding after wrapping Saw 4, he gets the green light to do Repo. So we talked about it and he wants to know if I can sing. I set him a copy of one of my Cornbugs CDs and that didn’t satisfy him. [laughs] He needed me to come in and actually sing a song, audition one of the songs from Repo. Fortunately I have been taking singing lessons for fifteen years. Every week I go out to the valley here in Los Angeles and take a half hour lesson with my singing coach. So when Darren gave me the song to prepare for the Repo audition, I took it to my singing teacher and we worked on it so I had that I had a nice presentation of the song. I went to the studio and got in front of a microphone and belted out the song “Night Surgeon”. I did a good enough job to get the job of Luigi.
Were you apprehensive about taking a role in a rock opera where you would have to sing?
I wasn’t. At first I was a little nervous. When I got to the studio, there were probably seven or eight guys in the control room. It was actually an audition process, so the person ahead of me was one of the Pussycat Dolls and she was trying out mercifully for a different role. She was standing in front of the mic in the studio through the glass window of the control booth and she was a pro. She was belting out a song, she was kind of making it her own. She was singing, dancing, kicking up her heels. It looked like something right out of broadway or something and I was just thinking I am fucked. [laughs] I was just thinking shit man, I can carry the tune, but I don’t know if I can style it like a Pussycat Doll. Anyway, I got out there and stood in front of the mic and I remember the one thing that really put me at ease was the fact that the mic was really a very cool, expensive microphone. I ended up saying one word or singing one note into it and it sounded just incredibly cool, very golden, buttery, deep, rich. I just was thinking, wow, this is great. It felt like singing in the shower. It put me at that kind of ease. I owe a lot of Luigi to the microphone.
Darren Lynn Bousman took the film on three successful Repo Road Tours and the fans have really embraced it. Did you ever expect that the film would take on the life that it has taken on?
I sure did. I actually was on the third road trip, so I got to see that up close and personal. Our road trip went to St. Louis, Denver, Jackson, Michigan, and outside of Phoenix. I have actually gotten a chance to see some of the shadow casts and to see this incredible loyalty and delight of the Repo fans. I was actually not surprised by that. What I was surprised at was why the movie only opened in seven theaters in the entire US. That to me was really astonishing, that this movie is so cool and so different that the distributer really didn’t have any faith in it at all. It almost really felt like they had some kind of agenda to keep us down or something. I couldn’t really understand what was going on there. Maybe somebody from that company would sit me down and just say look, it didn’t make good business, it wasn’t a good business move to put it in more theaters. I have been in some other movies that have opened in say three hundred theaters, which was a pretty small opening, but still, three hundred is better than seven. I was surprised at that aspect of it. I wasn’t surprised that the movie has caught on and has had this incredible grassroots fan base.
Are you happy with the film’s success and it being labelled a “cult classic?”
I am all for it. Cult classic is kind of a catch all term. I don’t really know what in fact specifically qualifies something as a cult classic. Does that mean it is not a financial success in the generally accepted sense. Does that mean that weird people like it. [laughs] I don’t even know what that means. I think it’s nice. It’s a good term because it has some brightness to it and it sounds successful. I guess in that regard, I’m happy to hear that.
Your upcoming film Dead Air looks fantastic. What can you tell us about the film and your role?
I play Logan Burnhardt, who is not quite a shock jock, but just kind of a very successful, arrogant radio talk show host. I’m on the air the night that there is a terrorist bombing at a local and nearby sports venue. Whatever explodes, it’s a bomb, it’s not so much a destructive bomb, it’s a bomb that releases some kind of toxin. When people come in contact with it, it changes them into bloodthirsty maniacs. As soon as one bloodthirsty manic scratches a person or in any way comes in physical contact with them, I guess it is maybe some kind of blood borne disease, the victim also turns into a bloodthirsty maniac. So there is this kind of tidal wave of, like the irate in 28 Days Later than zombies. They’re not slow moving and I don’t think they’re dead. Anyway, they’re very dangerous and there is a lot of them. [laughs] I am the only one that is actually still on the air. All of the other radio and TV stations either have been overrun or have automatically switched to government broadcasting. So I am the only one that is on the air and I get calls from people. Throughout the course of this crazy night, I’m kinda like the beacon of sanity, which is a strange role for me as kind of a shock jock. While we’re broadcasting, we are not untouched by the maniacs. I guess that’s the best way to say it. [laughs]
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?
The one thing I did was I grew a mustache and goatee. I just liked the script so much. It was written by a guy named Kenneth Yakkel. It was such a smart script and very contemporary and very compelling. That was really what attracted me to it. Between the time that the deal was signed and we started production, it was such a short amount of time, I didn’t really have time to prepare like going to a radio station or anything. It was pretty much on the job training. It was a lot of dialog because of course I’m a radio talk show host. What I did was mostly just try to work on my lines. There was a set that was basically one location. What we did was, we actually shot it in two pieces. We shot about eighty percent of it in 2007, then we had a break because our director, Corbin Bernsen, had to go off to Canada. He was shooting a cable show called Psych. He had a break and had to go fulfill his obligations to Psych and then he came back. So we had about a ten month hiatus. That was kind of a strange way to go about it, to shoot eighty percent of this very intense movie, then take ten months off and then come back and try to pick it up where we left off. I also found out that it’s tough just in terms of trying to figure out when to grow the goatee again. [laughs] So we ended up shooting it over the course of two years. I have seen it and I think it looks great. For what we had and for what we didn’t have, I thought that Corbin did a great job and the producer Jesse Lawler, everybody got together. It was a lot of fun too to work with Patricia Tallman again. I worked with her in course the remake of Night of the Living Dead. I had worked with her also in Army of Darkness, although we weren’t on the set at the same time.
What was it like working with director Corbin Bernsen?
It was interesting. It was different because I am coming from more of a feature film background and Corbin of course is just about ninety nine percent television. Television has a whole different approach to shooting a movie say than some of the feature directors I have worked with before. At first it took me a little while to kind of get Corbin’s vision and rhythm, but once we sorted that out, it was a perfectly positive experience.
When can we expect to see the film?
That you would have to talk to Jesse Lawler about. I think they’ve got a deal already with a foreign distributor. I think right now they’re still deal making. I’m not sure when that’s going to produce a theatrical release or a cable release. I don’t really know how they are going to do it. I know that the movie is ready. I just think number one have a distributor and then once that deal is made, any day I guess.
You star as Caleb aka “Pig Man” in the upcoming film The Graves. What can you tell us about the film and your role?
That was a lot of fun. The director, Brain Pulido, of course from Lady Death and Evil Ernie. An icon in the comic book business. That was actually a lot of fun. We shot it outside of Wickenburg, Arizona. It was last summer. My shots were all daytime shots, exterior day. The first day I came out of my trailer to work, I think it was one hundred and six degrees. So we were definitely in the desert and in amongst the saguaro cactus and there were sidewinders and the whole deal. I actually liked that a lot. It’s funny because actually where we shot, was about ten miles from a dude ranch where my family had gone when I was a kid. It was our Christmas vacation was to this dude ranch, that literally was just down the road from where we were shooting. That just kind of added a nice little dimension to it. Caleb is just another badass guy. I don’t know why I keep getting these parts, [laughs] I am happy to. Caleb is part of a strange little town where we love to be visited by tourists, we just don’t let them leave alive. Caleb is a big part of that. I am just a hunter at heart. You know, some people like to hunt deer I guess and some people like to hunt ducks, I just like hunting people.
You worked with two other genre vets, Tony Todd and Amanda Wyss, in the film. What was that experience like?
I didn’t get a chance to really work directly with either of them. I am friends with Tony. I have known Tony for a long time, since working with him also on Night of the Living Dead. Tony is a great guy. I have actually seen a screening of The Graves and Tony does a fantastic job. He is a big scary guy when he puts his mind to it and in this movie he has a lot of great material. He really gets in there and sinks his teeth into it.
What other film projects are in your immediate future?
I have another movie coming out called Blood Night. I am not actually sure of the status. I am not sure when that is coming out. That was directed by a guy named Frank Sabatella and was actually a lot of fun. I play Grave Yard Gus. I’m actually not a bad guy, but I’m a drunk guy. [laughs] That’s not bad. That’s coming out.
I am going to a screening Thursday night of a movie I did last year called Ice 44. I think the new title now is The Devil’s Tomb. That stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Winstone, Ron Pearlman, so it has a lot of big names in it. It’s actually kind of an army adventure movie where there is some kind of secret base underneath the desert sands in the middle east. It’s an American base and they stop broadcasting, so a team of commandos is sent in to see what’s up and what happened to the base. They descend one thousand feet under the sand to this secret base and all kinds of supernatural mayhem is happening down there. I play a possessed bureaucrat and I try to kill as many of them as I can. [laughs] That actually should be fun. I am looking forward to that. You know who else is in that is Henry Rollins. So that should be pretty cool. All in all it’s kind of like the airport, some things are circling, some things are waiting to take off. I’m actually very excited because tonight I am going to the premiere of Drag Me To Hell. That should be fun. Again, I worked with Sam on Army of Darkness many years ago, so it will be great to see him, if I in fact do. I’m really looking forward to seeing that movie. I think it is really cool that he is back into the horror genre after his years with doing a great job on Spiderman.
You have dabbled in music throughout the years. How did music come into your life?
I was doing a play in the early nineties here in Los Angeles called Timothy and Charlie, where I played Timothy Leary. The Charlie in that title was Charles Manson. It was based on a fact that sometime back in 1974 both men were side by side in solitary confinement in San Quentin prison. The play uses that as a springboard to pretty wild interaction between the two men. My costar in that was a guy named Gill Gayle, he played Charlie Manson. He was friends with a guitar player named Buckethead. I had never heard of Buckethead, but Gill invited Buckethead to come to one of our performances. I met Buckethead after the show and it turns out that he was a big Chop Top fan. He proposed that we get together sometime and he had some music and he would love to have me go off as Chop Top over some of this music he had made, so I said “yeah, it sounds great.” So I went down and did that. Our first session was in somebody’s apartment, I think, with a microphone setup. It went so well that we started working together. We really had a lot of fun and came up with this band Cornbugs. It’s really just kind of a side project for the both of us. Over the course of the next ten years we did five CDs all together and just had lots of fun. Whenever Buckethead’s schedule and my schedule permitted, we would just get together and goof around and pretty much record what we did. It turned into the Cornbugs band. I tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun as when I was working with Buckethead.
The band broke up in 2007. Any chance we could see a reunion?
You know you never know. What I have realized, it’s funny how these artistic collaborations come and go. I did Chop Top for Tobe Hooper in 1986 and I’m still great friends with Tobe. I just saw him recently. I had a great time hanging out with him. Actually, I just saw him at the LA Fango convention. I was on a panel with him. That was twenty three years ago and I have never worked with him since. It was this great collaboration, it was very exciting. I had expectations that we would be making movies together for years to come. It’s not for any kind of personal problem, it just never happened. With Buckethead, I guess our course was maybe a ten year track and then he went his way and I went mine, not because of any animosity. I didn’t shoot his dog, he didn’t blow up my apartment. I don’t even think he has a dog by the way and I don’t have a gun, so that would be really tough. You know, that’s how it goes. I think that’s just a case of artistic collaborations where you’ve got two or more people getting together. What I’ve come to realize there’s a shelf life to that, which is sad in some ways, but also good in others because it then frees you up to be available for new collaborations.
What’s up with your musical project with Ogre from Skinny Puppy?
Right after Repo, he was finishing up his solo album called Devils in my Details. It was a solo versus a Skinny Puppy CD. He called me up and asked me if I wanted to do some spoken word on it. I had impressed him, I guess, during our time together shooting Repo with some of my poems. I think I gave him a copy of Cornbugs. I think he had kind of a general sense of my spoken word stuff. So he invited me to come out and lay down some spoken word, so I did. I just grabbed up a notebook and some things laying around. Things meaning poems and fragments. I went out to his producer’s place out in Thousand Oaks, CA. I just showed up and came inside and started rattling off some stuff I had written in my notebooks. They liked it and they ended up using pretty much all of it, sprinkled throughout Devils in my Details.
Is music something that you would like to further pursue?
Right now I am working with a guy named Rani Sharone. He has a band called Stolen Babies. I met him a couple of years ago at a LA Fango convention. He gave me a CD, I listened to it and it was really cool music. Again, with the demise of Cornbugs, I ended up contacting him. We got together and so far we have come up with, I think we’re up to about seven songs. It’s really cool. It’s a lot different than Cornbugs. Cornbugs was all improvised. With Cornbugs, I don’t think there was ever a song that we rehearsed or actually played twice. So every Cornbugs song on all five of the CDs is basically just a first take. That was the fun part with working with Buckethead, we were on the same wavelength. He would just start playing something and I would either make up the words or find a prewritten poem I had and just kind of make it fit or I would start saying something and he would follow along on the guitar. That was the joy of Cornbugs. Working with Rani, what’s different and fun is to actually construct a song. It is more like the old fashioned way. It’s trail and error. It’s a lot of rehearsing and playing and trying different things. When it works, you know it, and you just lock it in. So that’s actually been a really fun, new way of approaching music for me. It also doesn’t preclude my improvisation skills, but it is really more about actually building songs. It’s been lots of fun. I think we’re about ready to press it into a CD We’re still trying to come up with a name for the band or the project, whatever you want to call it. So that should be coming soon, which for me is very exciting. We’ve got songs like “Sex Life of a Punk” and “Stupid Life of a Mom Eater”. You can’t go wrong with those titles.
You have been hitting the convention circuit for a while now. What has that experience been like for you? Do you enjoy meeting fans?
I love meeting the fans. I think it is something that everybody, certainly in this genre, should do. I think it’s really important. The conventions are a great way to meet the fans and to give them a chance to get to see you and kick your tires. Sometimes that can be really fun if you’re a cool person. Other times for the fans, that can be disappointing if you’re really a dickhead. [laughs] You run the risk of fans realizing that that performance or performer that they really enjoyed in such and such a movie is really kind of a nerd or worse. I think it’s really great to let the fans have a chance to meet you. I think it is also important to meet the fans because without the fans we don’t work, we’re not going to do very much. I have always been a fan of horror movies and I think it is really important to remember who you are working for. Also it’s a chance to make money, which is great. A lot of times the fans think that actors, you know if you’re in such and such a movie, you must be rich and have a big staff and live on a hill in a big house and drive Maseratis. In fact, a lot of actors, especially in genre films, aren’t making that much money. It’s also a good chance for the actors to get twenty bucks for signing a head shot or something like that. That can sometimes allow actors to keep acting.
Any strange encounters or notable interaction with other actors?
The conventions are cool because a lot of times not only are there are other actors there, but there are also sometimes directors. Sometimes conventions can be a great bulletin board for who is doing what and what jobs are available. It’s where I met Darren Bousman, was at a convention. At a different convention was where I heard about Repo, through the false wall. In that regard, sometimes you can get a job out of a convention or it leads to a job. The other thing is it also provides a great place for future filmmakers. You know, kids that might have a screenplay or maybe they have made some movies at home and they have theatrical aspirations. It’s great, I love to encourage that. If somebody comes up and says I am a filmmaker and I hope to someday use you in a movie, I can’t tell you how encouraging I am, especially if they want to use me. [laughs] It’s a great place to encourage young talent and let them have a chance to meet you. You never know in that regard, it might lead to a job. More than likely it won’t, but it is also really nice to be in a position to be encouraging. I’ve got to say, trying to make a living as an actor, as a writer, as a director in “Hollywood” is really fucking hard. Many are called, but few are chosen as they say. A lot of times it really comes down to just dumb luck, it comes down to perseverance, it comes down to not being discouraged, it comes down to having something that sustains you other than whether or not you are chosen by show business. You know it is really hard. It comes down to whether you can survive on Ramen for years at a time. [laughs] It’s good to also be a voice of reason, just to remind everybody that it is hard. It would be like the guy in Vegas who has won a jackpot, but stands next to the one armed bandits reminding everybody that their chances are really slim to none that they are going to win anything when they keep putting their silver dollars into the machine.
Do you have an advice for anyone who would like to get involved in the film industry?
Yeah. I’m not in anyway discouraging. I think if you want to get involved, it’s a little different than if you have to get involved. There are some people that just have this burning desire and they just can’t not get involved. I don’t know if they have a better chance of success than somebody who thinks it might be a good idea or a lot more fun than working in the factory, like they are doing right now. I’d say it’s important to know that it is really hard and that the chance of success is pretty slim and you have to work your butt off. It’s probably not a bad idea to come to New York or Los Angeles. Although now, with the internet, with You Tube, and video cameras, you can do something cool where ever you are and post it online and just hope that it hits through some kind of internet grassroots. There’s always that. What I did, I did it more the traditional way. The reason I got any kind of success is because I made this little parody movie, this little five minute Texas Chainsaw Manicure. I was lucky enough to have a friend who, at the time, was a screenwriter with an office across the hall from Tobe Hooper, who walked in the video tape, that’s tells you how long ago it was, and that Tobe even watched it, and that Tobe liked it, and that Tobe called Steven Spielberg in to watch it, and Spielberg liked it. That is when they were working on Poltergeist. Two years after Toby got that, they were originally going hire Ed Neal for the part of Chop Top, but there was some kind of salary dispute, so they said let’s get this guy Bill Moseley. You know, that’s pretty unlikely. Those are very unlikely events. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I’d be in show business. Show business is very hard and it ain’t going to fill your soul with anything. [laughs] It’s not going to sustain you necessarily, so it is good to have something that will. I am just a lucky son of a bitch is really my big conclusion. I know how to act now. I know how to movie act especially. I know how to perform when a lot of people are staring at me. I’ve learned how to turn off that self consciousness and just be in the moment for the most part. I’m still looking for the glamour. I still haven’t found that yet, but I am sure it is out there. I still love what I do. There are those magic moments when you’re in the moment, where everything is working, the costumes, the setting, the dialogue, the other actor or actors, the situation, and you get out of yourself and you are that character, whether you are Pig Man, or Chop Top, or Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. In those moments, that is the definition of ecstasy. I think it comes from extasis, out of self. In those moments, when you are that other person, I tell you, you can’t beat it.
Do you have any last words?
– – – – –
You can get the scoop on all of Bill Moseley’s films and appearances at his Official Website located at www.choptopsbbq.com!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.