Tyler Mane began life as a skinny kid from Canada who wore glasses and had braces. A fan of the Schwarzenegger and Stallone movies of the seventies and eighties, Mane always had aspirations of becoming an actor. Like a fine wine, Tyler Mane got better with age and metamorphosed into a six foot, nine inch tower of muscle. Fittingly his career in the entertainment industry began in the realm of professional wrestling. Fed up with the fast-paced and frequently lonely lifestyle of a professional wrestler, Mane transitioned into the film industry and never looked back. While he has been seen most recently on the silver screen as the menacing and ultra-violent Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ series, Mane couldn’t be a nicer guy. A lover of a good cigar and a nice glass of wine, Mane is thankful for all of his fans and encourages everyone out there reading this to pursue their dreams. Steve Johnson of Icon vs Icon recently sat down with Tyler Mane to discuss his career as a professional wrestler, his experiences on the set of ‘Halloween II’, his new production company Mane Entertainment, LLC and it’s first film ‘Penance Lane’, and his potential involvement in ‘Halloween 3D’.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I made the trek to the United States after getting involved in wrestling. I wrestled for about eleven and a half years and then transitioned into film.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in film?
Probably when I was a little kid. I would sit and watch action films and just wish to be the action hero doing his thing. From a little kid I always knew I wanted to do it. I never knew if I would get the opportunity or not, but knock on wood, here I am.
Did you have any influences, be it other actors or otherwise?
I used to watch all of the action flicks. The Schwarzenegger and Stallone films of the seventies and eighties. I would have to say those would probably be my biggest influences.
You’ve had roles in motion pictures and on television series. Which format do you prefer?
I prefer film by far. For me it’s a lot more fun process. TV moves so quick. It’s like you’re in, you’re out, you’re done, moving on. With film you get to explore it more and really get into and enjoy your character a little more.
You just started your production company Mane Entertainment, LLC. What can you tell us about that?
I wanted to do indie films because I have been involved in some very large budget films. Basically what I observed was people would just be piling the money up in the streets and pouring gasoline on it and lighting matches to it, and then everybody would be trying to stuff as much in their pockets as they could. I wanted to get back to the grassroots of doing indie films, where you keep the integrity of the film and the film gets to stand on its own. So that’s why I wanted to start my production company. Our first project is ‘Penance Lane’. It’s a horror-thriller. It’s about a convict that gets out of prison and gets a second chance at things, but first he has to walk down Penance Lane and take care of some business. What he finds in a dilapidated house on Penance Lane is a little more than he bargained for.
Do you want to stay in the horror genre in your production company or are you going to look for movies outside of the genre?
We have about five different projects right now that we’re looking at doing and no, they’re not all in the horror genre. That seemed like the most logical starting point. You can keep your budgets down and get the best return for your investment. That’s the bottom line, getting the return for the investors on this. That’s why I decided to do this.
Now that you are a producer, do you have any aspirations to direct films?
You know, in the beginning I thought, “Not a chance in hell I’d even want to try to do that!” Now that I am getting more involved, I believe that eventually the day will come where I do step behind the camera.
Which do you prefer, acting or producing?
Well you know, every producer that I have ever talked to said if they knew how hard it would be to get their film off the ground, they never would have started. It is the business side of things. It is after all called show business, not show show. You’re involved more in the business side. You’re involved more with the project. As an actor you bring your character to filming and hopefully you’re prepared. Once filming is done, that’s the end of it. With the production side of it, you’re involved with the project from start to finish. It’s an interesting process.
You often fill physically demanding roles. How do you keep in top physical shape?
Ever since I was young I’d work out quite hard with the martial arts training and into the wrestling. I still go to the gym at least four to five times a week and work out pretty extensively.
You were a professional wrestler at one point in your career. What was that experience like for you?
It’s not what people think. You get ten minutes of fame every night and you get twenty three hours and fifty minutes of total boredom. Going from town to town, city to city. You have to fly in, then you’ve got to get your rental car, you’ve got to find your hotel, you’ve got to find the gym, you’ve got to get food, you’ve got to get to the arena. Basically after that ten minutes, you trek back to the hotel and do it all over again the next day. You’re on the road for two hundred to three hundred days a year. It’s not what people think. It’s a very lonely life.
Why did you decide to retire from professional wrestling?
It’s very physically demanding on your body. People go, “Oh, it’s all fake or whatever,” but anytime you’ve got two to three hundred pounders picking each other up over their heads and dropping them, things are going to hurt. There’s going to be some give. You’re going to get your bumps and bruises. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to transfer into film and I did it.
You have become closely associated with the horror genre. 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’m open to look at any role and just see what it involves. I just finished a comedy-western. I went from doing Michael Myers to a comedy-western called ‘Gunless’ that I filmed up in Canada. I’m looking for roles that stretch me as an actor a little bit more and are not just the big, tough guy roles.
You have been involved in the remake of a classic horror film. What is your feeling on the latest craze in Hollywood of remaking movies?
I think if they come up with a really good script and it isn’t just something that’s cookie-cutter and slammed out there, I think then it is something that people should explore. If it is just thrown out there to make a few bucks, I don’t think it’s worth it. You’ve got to give the fans the respect that they deserve. They are getting very intelligent to the way this is working. Basically it’s giving the fans what they want to see and if that’s what they want to see, I’m all for it.
Were you a fan of horror films before you got involved in Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ series and had you seen any of the other ‘Halloween’ films?
I had seen the first ‘Halloween’ films. I hadn’t seen that many horror films. I have become a fan of them. I don’t like the cheesy ones. I’m the kind of guy that when I went to see ‘Jaws’ when it first came out, I didn’t want to go in my bathtub afterward. I’ve toughened up since then, so to speak.
I’d hope so! [laughs] You have worked with Rob on two ‘Halloween’ films now. What has it been like working with him and what have you learned from him?
It is fantastic to work with Rob. The first film that I ever did with Rob was ‘The Devil’s Rejects’, where I did the Rufus role. That is where he wrote ‘Halloween’ for me, with me in mind. Working with Rob is just a fantastic experience because he is an artist. He understands that you need to give an artist their room to do their thing and develop their character and work with it. Basically what I learned is that when I do get a chance to be a director, let the actor do their thing. Don’t try to box them in too much. Give them free reign to explore.
I have interviewed a lot of people from the cast of ‘Halloween II’ and that’s basically what everyone has said about Rob so far.
He understands it. He gets it, with him being an artist and musician.
Michael Myers is way more intense in the sequel. Did you have any input into that aspect of the character or was it laid out for you in the script?
I wanted to kick it up a notch. Anytime I am doing something like that, I want to bring it a little more than the last one. Especially when I was doing the second picture. I said to Rob, “I want the kills to all be nice and dirty. I don’t want any clean kills and I want them to be as vicious as we can make them.” He was all for it. Like the scene in the hospital with the nurse. I just started stabbing her and stabbing her, and Rob let me go. I said, “OK! Here we go!” Then the last one, I just stuck it back into the dummy and I was just like, “OK! That’s enough! I don’t have anymore!” and walked away on the last one. He kind of kept it in the film, which is kind of cool.
It was a very effective scene!
Yeah! It leaves you thinking after that. The thing I like about all of the scenes, if you do any research on kills and deaths, there’s a definitely aftermath to that type of violence and that is what is depicted in the film. People classify it as gory and gross, but that’s the way it is.
Did you do any special preparation for the role?
Yeah, I researched quite a few serial killers and killers. I wanted to give Michael Myers a human side also. I think that that’s creepier than just having Michael Myers as a one dimensional character. When Rob asked me to do it in the first one, he said, “I want you to bring a human side and have him not be one dimensional.” That’s what I tried to do with this. If you research any of the killers, Bundy or any of them, they interact in society and most people that interacted with them did not expect that they were capable of the horrors that they had done. So I did that research to figure that out. I wanted to kind of get into their minds and see what they were thinking. It’s weird. If you look at The Iceman, the killer from the mob, he started out the same way. Torturing animals, working up his way to humans. He killed over two hundred humans without any remorse. It’s insane.
How long did it take you to grow that giant beard for the film?
[laughs] That was quite a while. I started that the March before. By the time we started filming, I’d had it for about a year. It was intense.
What was the biggest challenge while working on ‘Halloween II’?
The scenes when I tear up the guard shack. We were filming that in Georgia and they had these rain machines and it was probably about forty degrees. Both Scout and I had to work all night, getting soaked with these rain machines. Just overcoming the physical and mental strain on your body that you would deal with with something like that. By the time it came to actually smashing the guard shack, my hands were numb. It was almost impossible to swing that axe. Just the actual physicality that you have to bring to the character, to have the character be as vicious as he is, it’s just physically demanding on your body. You’re doing it take, after take, after take.
Were any of the other actors/actresses intimidated or scared by your presence while in full costume?
Some of them have classified me as being a big teddy bear, but when I put on the mask they know it’s time they better run. We all got along great. It was like one big family, but they know when that mask is on and that knife is in my hand, it’s business time.
What is your favorite kill in ‘Halloween II’?
Wow! Favorite kill… I like all of them for so many different reasons. The guy out in the parking lot where I choke slam him and stomp on his face was pretty good. Smashing the stripper’s face against the wall was pretty good. The nurse kill was really intense. The redneck scene just showed his brutality. Once you hit that trigger point, everybody is going to die. Even the dog! [laughs]
What does a guy like you do after a long day of killing people on set?
What I would do to unwind was, I would go back to the house that I had rented, I would have a cigar and a glass of wine, and get ready for my next day.
Did you keep any memorabilia from the ‘Halloween’ films?
Yeah. I got a bit from both of them.
Are you happy with the success of the ‘Halloween II’?
Yeah. I am very happy with it. Between the two films, they have done over one hundred million so far. I am very proud of the work that we did in them.
There’s definitely been a bit of controversy with the way the film was handled if you read all of the stuff on the internet.
There’s always going to be people that have their opinions. That’s the good thing about it. It was what, number ten? Nine or ten. There are plenty of them to go see. It was Rob’s version of the ‘Halloween’ films. I think they turned out really good. I am very proud of them.
Would you consider working with Rob in the future?
Oh, of course! Of course! Working with Rob is a pleasure.
A third ‘Halloween’ film, without Rob Zombie at the helm, has just been announced. Have you been approached to continue your portrayal of Michael Myers?
Yeah, that’s coming up very quickly. They have approached me. I have no idea what they are planning on doing with it. We have just started and opened the door of negotiation.
What’s the biggest misconception about yourself?
Oh… I don’t know. That’s a tough one. That is a tough one. I guess people look at my look and immediately think that I am just one big badass. I was a tall, skinny kid with glasses and braces growing up. I guess I’m like a fine wine, I get better with age.
Other than producing ‘Penance Lane’ and appearing in ‘Gunless’, what other projects are in your immediate future?
Right now that’s keeping my hands full. This producing stuff is a lot of work.
You have been hitting the convention circuit for a while now. What has that experience been like for you? Do you enjoy meeting fans?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to get out there and meet the fans. It’s incredibly rewarding to go out and see just how enthused the fans are and how they have taken to the ‘Halloween’ films. It’s just fantastic. To be able to get out there and to meet them and give back to them, it’s a great opportunity. Without the fans, I wouldn’t have a job.
Any strange encounters or notable interaction with other actors?
Ah… No, not really.
I know it can get a little strange in there sometimes. I go to a lot of them.
Yeah. I avoid the nuttiness.
Do you have an advice for anyone who would like to get involved in the film industry?
If it is your life long goal and dream, never give up and follow your dreams. That’s exactly what I did. Like I said, I was a tall, skinny kid with glasses and braces and had slight dyslexia, wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself. I always wanted to become an actor. I did and here I am. Anything is possible.
As long as you believe in yourself and go all out, I don’t think you will have a problem doing what you want to do.
Exactly, but there’s a lot of hard work that you have to put in to getting to your goal.
It takes some dedication to do what you love.
It does, but it’s worthwhile in the end. It’s worth it. If it’s something you are passionate about, I am all for it. Go for it.
Do you have any last words?
Stay tuned for ‘Penance Lane’. I want to say thanks to all of the fans that have supported me and followed me throughout the years.
It was a pleasure. It was good talking to you.
Alright. Good talking to you. Thank you very much for your time man.
For all the latest news on Tyler Mane and his upcoming projects, swing by his official site at www.tylermane.com!