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SYFY WIRE Halloween

Halloween's Original Michael Myers Reveals 'Most Painful' Moment Making Carpenter's Horror Classic

Nick Castle recalls the one time he wished he hadn't taken the Michael Myers gig.

By Matthew Jackson

The original Halloween film was a rather scrappy affair. Shot on a tight schedule and made for less than half a million dollars, John Carpenter and Debra Hill's slasher classic worked with what they had. That meant buying the wardrobe from local department stores, keeping fall leaves in a bag to give the film a Midwestern autumn look, and of course, drafting friends to work on the movie where they could. 

Enter Nick Castle. A longtime friend (and sometime bandmate) of Carpenter's, Castle landed on the set of the original Halloween in part because he wanted to spend time on a film set and lend a hand while nurturing his own directorial ambitions. But he was more than just an extra helper behind the camera. Carpenter ultimately drafted Castle to don the now-iconic mask and play the role of Michael "The Shape" Myers, in part because he just liked the way his friend moved.

Little did Castle know that he'd become a part of horror history as the original villain of one of the most successful slasher franchises ever. He also didn't know that he was signing up for one of the most painful experiences of his life.

In an interview with Vanity Fair about the Michael Myers experience back in 2018, Castle -- who reprised the role for certain shots and sounds in David Gordon Green's Halloween trilogy -- recalled that he was paid a solid (at the time) $25 a day to wear the mask and play Michael. But while the gig came with plenty of scenes in which he's stalking through houses stabbing babysitters, the hardest shooting day actually came when Castle was out of the classic Michael costume. 

A masked Michael Myers (Nick Castle) holds a large nail to his neck in Halloween (1978)

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According to Castle, the hardest day on Halloween, for him, was the night they filmed Michael's escape from Smith's Grove Sanitarium, leaping on top of a station wagon and eventually stealing it from Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens). It was a cold night, but Castle didn't know how cold until Carpenter added an extra element to the scene.

"It wasn’t freezing, but it was in the mid-40s," Castle recalled. "I was in a hospital gown and underpants. I don’t think John let me know what he had in store for me. He turns to the crew and says something like, 'O.K., start the water cannons.' The hospital’s sprinkler system was more like a fire hose. The water arced into the air, and when it came down on me, it felt like icicles hitting me on the back."

The combination of a chilly evening, little protection from the elements, and finally the addition of water shooting out from all sides was enough to make Castle regret his decision, if only for a moment.

"It was the most painful thing I’d ever experienced outside of a broken arm," he said. "That was the one scene that I really remember thinking, 'Maybe I should have got more than $25.'"

It's been 45 years, and Halloween is still going strong as one of the greatest horror films of all time, but Castle will always have the memories of icicle water stabbing him in the back. 

Want more of Nick Castle as The Shape? Stream Halloween (2018) on Peacock right now.