Interview: Tyler Mane

Tyler Mane, perhaps best known as former WCW wrestler Big Sky, is the current star of Rob Zombie's rebooted Halloween series in which he plays the terrifying Michael Myers. Having acted in numerous other films such as Troy and X-men, Mane is now starting his own production company Mane Entertainment, which will specialize in low-budget, independent films. He took a some time to speak with us about working on the Halloween sequel, discovering what makes a killer tick, and Kanye West.

You are currently starring in the new Halloween movie, and you were in the first one as well, right?
Yes, Rob's first one in 2007. I played Michael Myers and reprise the role in 2009.

Are you going to be in the next one?
We are in talks. We shall see.

So you don't die in this new one, then?
Well, it's Michael Myers. It's the tenth movie I think now, and he hasn't died yet. Who knows, maybe they will hook the life support up to him and bring him back to life. You never know.

How was filming Halloween 2 different from filming the first Halloween?
You know, the first one kind of followed the format of the original Halloween movies. It told that story along with giving the back-story of Michael Myers and how he became a product of his environment. The second one picked up where that one left off, but with the second one, you see inside the mind of Michael Myers and how he perceives himself. And it's kind of creepy that he sees himself as that 10 year old little boy just before he made that decision to go out and start killing people. So he perceives himself as total innocence. And he's talking to the only person that's ever loved him, his mother. And he feels that she’s driving his thoughts. Which, of course, is totally in his mind. And then parallel to that you have Lori Strode, with her downhill spiral into total madness from what has happened to her in her life. The second one is more of Rob's interpretation of the Halloween movies and what happens with it, and I think he's just done a brilliant job with it.

Have you noticed any differences or growth in Zombie's style of directing? He really is a relatively new director. He had House of 1000 Corpses in 2003...
Right. And then he did The Devil's Rejects where I first met him, playing the Rufus character. And then the two Halloweens.

It's just been fantastic to watch Rob and see how he's evolved as a director. The thing is, he comes from an entertainment background and he realizes what an actor needs to get the best performance out of them. He, before directing the movies, directed all his own music videos. So, he's got visualization for what he wants to see. And, working with [him] was just fantastic.

Do you have any lines in this film?
I'm gonna be doing some grunting and groaning. It's kinda funny because my wife appears in this, and she plays one of the cops-she's the one with the princess Leia buns-and she likes picking on me and getting under my skin. And she goes "How many movies have you done? 2? I have more lines in a few seconds than you had in two movies!" [Laughs]

Well, she does have a point. Although, I think fans of the first Halloween movie that Rob Zombie did would agree that you are still a very effective and terrifying villain even without speaking any lines.
Yeah, that's why I took the project. Because it was a great opportunity to give this character some depth with body movement and body language. That is the one thing that I wanted to do with it. When Rob first talked to me about it he said 'I don't want just a one-dimensional killer, here. I want to give some depth to this character so that people perceive him more as a human.’ And that's what we did I think, and it came across great. People were even sympathetic to Michael Myers.

Is there any research or preparation that goes into playing Michael Myers?
I definitely did my research. The first thing I did was go back and watch the other Halloween movies that Myers appears in and watched their performances. Not to mimic them, but to see what they brought to the character. I noticed that they were mainly one-dimensional characters, and I wanted to bring more to that. So then I went from there and started researching serial killers and seeing how they interacted in society, and people [actually] perceived them as being this innocent person that could and did interact with society. No one ever thought that that person was who they turned out to be. So I wanted to bring that to the character just with my body language and how I moved and all of that. It’s kinda funny because the "Iceman" Richard Kuklinksi, who was a hit man for the mob, had the same traits as Michael Myers. He started with tormenting and torturing and killing animals and moved his way up from there. I think that’s how those killers become numb to the fact that they’re able to kill people. There’s definitely a chemical thing in their brains too that is different than the normal person, but it was fantastic to be able to research that and just see how that does happen.

Are you a big fan of Rob Zombie’s music?
Yeah. He is a fantastic artist. It was funny while working on the first Halloween, the sound guys had one of his music videos playing, where he had the dreadlocks and he’s whipping them around and going crazy, and then I’d look over and see Rob sitting behind the monitors in his director’s chair chewing his gum, analyzing the shot. And I’d look at the video and back to Rob…it was surreal. You wouldn’t think they were the same person.

Did you learn a lot about Rob Zombie from working with him?
He’s just a fantastic guy to work with. He’s not what a lot of people think. And I understand and I get it, because when I was wrestling, people would go ‘You’re a wrestler? You’re married and have kids? How could that be?’ It’s kinda like two different worlds, you know?

Did you wrestle for the WWE?
I wrestled for the WCW and the UWF. I did a lot of my wrestling overseas, internationally. In Japan, Germany, Austria, England, Mexico, places like that.

What name did you wrestle under?
I wrestled as Big Sky and Nitron. I was in there on two different occasions, and I was Kevin Nash’s tag partner for a while.

Do you ever wish you could go back to doing wrestling?
Oh hell no.

It doesn’t look very glamorous, the way that movie The Wrestler depicted it. Plus all the stuff you hear about steroids and that sort of thing.
Yeah, it’s a wild and crazy lifestyle. I used it as a stepping stone to get to where I am today, and I’m thankful I had all the opportunities and everything, but I’m glad that I’m not stuck in that lifestyle.

It’s good that you aren’t stuck in that lifestyle, but when you think of the Vince McMahon’s in the wrestling business, they probably not too different from the Hollywood sharks that are out there.
Yeah, that’s true. That is true. You just gotta try and avoid the shark infested waters.[laughs]

You ever use music to get you pumped up before you wrestle or before you start acting?
Oh yeah, all the time. I’ll be throwing in some good 70’s rock and have that on my headphones before I go to work and do my thing. I play the Pandora classic rock station all the time when I’m working out at the gym.

Are there any bands in particular that you listen to?
I’m a big fan of Rush, Led Zeppelin, the oldies.

What was the last concert that you attended?
Probably Rob’s, the show he had back at the Staple Center. He’ll do movies, and go on tour for a while, and just go back on forth. He’s got a tour he’s preparing for right now.

You have a new production company called Mane Entertainment. Tell me a little about the new film your company is releasing, Penance Lane.
We’re in the pre-production stages right now. We’re hopefully going to start filming at the beginning of the year. It’s going to be an indie low-budget horror thriller. It’s a smart horror film and there’s a lot of twists and turns, and people aren’t who you would perceive them to be. The reason why I picked this was to please the horror fans, and also to be able to do a picture and keep the budget down. I believe as indie film-makers, we owe it to the investors to get the best return for the dollar. I’ve been in a lot of big productions where I’ve seen them just take the money out to the middle of the street, pile it up and light a match to it, so to speak. I don’t think you need to do that to make a top-quality picture. I’m using all my years of experience in the business and compiling my resources and talented friends, and we’re well on the way.

Are you directing Penance Lane?
I’m producing and going to be acting in it. I have a director attached but we’re not going to be naming him yet because we don’t have the contract signed. I would like to get into directing eventually, but I don’t think the time is just right just yet.

That does seem like the natural progression.
Yeah, and the reason why I wanted to set up Mane Entertainment is to do the indie films and keep control of the picture. So many times you get into a studio with a picture and everybody has to put their two cents in and they come up with totally absurd ideas that end up ruining the film. It becomes more about people trying to put their two-cents in so that they can keep their job than it is to put out the best picture possible. I think we owe it to the fans to do that and get back to grassroots and go smaller to get bigger. Bigger results.

Do you have anything in the pipeline for after Penance Lane?
Yeah, we have about 4 or 5 different projects that we’re looking at, in various genres. There is a book that I just finished reading that a gentleman had sent me, and I’m going to be in the process of optioning that right away, for one of our projects. There’s one that I’m working on with my wife at the present time [as well], so we have several projects in the pipeline.

Are there any forthcoming acting gigs that are separate from Mane Entertainment that you’re going to be doing?
Yeah, I just finished filming a comedy-western in Canada called Gunless, that’s coming out in March of 2010 I believe. I play a blacksmith that gets into a shootout. It’s kind of comical because it’s set in a Canadian town where we don’t have any pistols to do any dueling with. This gunslinger comes into town and challenges me to a duel. And it’s kind of comical that I don’t have any pistols. But then I do end up finding a pistol and I end up getting shot in the ass. I come out and be a hero in the end though, so it’s all good.

I know everyone is already sick of talking about the Kanye West thing at the VMA’s, and actually a lot of wrestlers have been giving their opinion on it, saying they would beat Kanye’s ass if he ever did that to them. Do you have any input on that at all?
It’s kind of unfortunate for Kanye. He’s been going through a lot lately, and it’s sad that it had to happen. I think he will look back and realize that he screwed up, big time. It’s kinda sad. I hope people don’t destroy him over it. I think he needs to get his shit together and get back on track. But, on the other hand, if he did do that to me, I would beat his ass too!

Anything you want to tell your fans?
Thanks for the support. The reason why I do what I do is for the fans. It’s great to get their input and be able to chat with them. I go on my MySpace and Facebook and talk with my fans all the time. It really is me on there. I take the time to do that, talk to the fans, and I appreciate everything they do for me.

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