A Conversation With Bill Moseley
There are few actors working today who can humbly say that they are a true genre icon.
Bill Moseley is one of those people.
In 1986, in just his second film role ever, and his first chance at a semi-leading role, he delivered one of the most chilling and hysterical portrayals of a crazed killer ever committed to film as "Chop Top" Sawyer in Tobe Hooper's cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
For the next 17 years, Moseley consistently worked, appearing in a slew of genre films in roles both small and supporting, but it wasn't until 2003 -- with Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses -- when Moseley portrayed Otis, the patriarchal leader of the deadly Firefly clan, that his Hollywood legacy was confirmed.
Moseley revised the role of Otis in Zombie's 2005 sequel, The Devil's Rejects, adding even more complexity to a character that easily could have been a camp caricature.
Moseley has been in high demand ever since, most notably in Darren Lynn Bousman's 2008 cult musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera, and fans of horror cinema have embraced him as one of the best character actors of his generation.
With the release this week of The Possession Experiment, those same fans get to see Moseley in a different kind of role as a protagonist priest battling evil and trying to save innocent lives from demonic possession. It's a nice deviation from the type of character that he has masterfully made into his cinematic calling card.
BVB: Blood Violence and Babes was thrilled to have the chance to speak with Moseley recently when he appeared in Orlando, FL for the annual Spooky Empire horror convention. He is as gracious and genial on the phone as he is in person. Moseley just loves what he does, and he appreciates the admiration that he receives from fans for what he brings to the genre.
BVB: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me for my website, Blood Violence and Babes. I really appreciate it. It’s a great honor for me. We actually met briefly a few years back at Spooky Empire in Orlando and now you’re back there this weekend, right?
BM: I am.
BVB: That’s awesome.
BM: It’s about two hours. It starts in about two hours. The thing got canceled because of the hurricane.
BVB: I know. We actually – my wife and I were going to be there but we weren’t able to go because of the hurricane.
BM: But mercifully, the skies have cleared. We’re going to give it a go.
BVB: That’s awesome. That’s kind of how Florida is. One minute there can be a hurricane and the next minute it will be 80 degrees and sunny. What’s it mean to you to do these conventions and have the chance to interact with so many fans?
BM: I love it. I actually, you know, I love the work I do and I find I love the people that love the work I do. So…(Laughing) I end up just having a great time. It’s fun to come to the conventions. It’s fun to hob-knob my fellow monsters. You know, it’s a great way to supplement my income because sometimes in the life of an actor, there’s troughs as well as the peaks. There’s really no downside to it. Plus it’s a way to get out of the house for the weekend.
BVB: (Laughing) Right! And come to Florida.
BM: Yeah! Heck, yeah.
BVB: I know we only have a few minutes so let’s talk about The Possession Experiment.
BM: All right.
BVB: I got a chance to watch the film in advance of talking to you and it’s such a crazy mash-up of so many different horror genres. You’ve got found footage, you’ve got slasher, and then of course you’ve got demonic possession. What did you think when you first read the script?
BM: Well, I thought, first of all, it was a good script. That’s really the first thing I look too. If the script is bad, there’s not much you can do to change the movie. But if the script is good, as it was in the case of The Possession Experiment – Mary Dixon wrote the script, along with the director, Scott – but if that is good, then that gets me excited. And then if they actually have the funding to make the script is exciting (Laughing)
BM: And the chance to play the part of a priest who is leading the fight against the Devil. All together, it was a go pretty much from the start.
BVB: Oh that’s great. I thought it was funny. I watch a lot of, obviously watch a lot of horror movies for my website because I review them, and The Possession Experiment kind of starts where most demonic possession films are ending, and then it just goes in directions that you would never expect. And its got some amazing gore gags, its got some really superior practical effects, and I just wondered if when you were reading it, if you had to chuckle and be like, man, these guys are – they’re going all out. I mean, because for a first-time director, which Scott Hansen is, you normally wouldn’t see them try to tackle so much in one film.
BM: I know! I thought he bit off a lot and he cheated well.
BM: You know, when we actually did our scene, there were a lot of parts to it and I was really surprised. We had a great time shooting. And it was only after the production was over that I got that Scott, that was his first time directing a feature.
BVB: Oh wow…
BM: I was really surprised at that because he was such a steady guy. He ended up co-writing the script. He knew what he wanted. He saw very clearly the set. He worked well with the crew and the cast. We got our business done pretty quickly.
BVB: Oh that’s great! You actually aren’t in the movie as much as people might expect. But Scott and Mary actually wrote the part of Father Campbell specifically for you, correct?
BM: Um, yes, apparently, which is a great honor, especially because sometimes people, they think of me as more of a Chop Top or Otis of Luigi Largo. There are a lot of different characters that I’ve played. Looking at me and thinking Max von Sydow (Laughing) is a pretty great jump.
BVB: (Laughing) Exactly! I love that because I agree with you, I think…
BM: I appreciated that and it was a great…
BVB: I think it’s great to see you do things other than kind of the very charismatic yet very dangerous lead killer character because your skill is profound and it shouldn’t be limited to just that because then when you do the next charismatic, crazy killer, it’s going to stand out that much more because you get to play these different roles.
BM: Well, people say, do you feel limited or hamstrung by all of the work you’ve done in the genre, and I counter by saying, I don’t know where else I could have so many diverse parts.
BM: You know, it’s not like I’m doing the same song and dance. I have so many different characters that I play just thanks to the fact that the horror genre is such a wide-open genre that you can do a priest one day and a Chop Top the next and that’s pretty exciting.
BVB: It’s pretty cool. It really is.
BM: Yeah, it’s really cool!
BVB: Is it humbling when someone writes a part just for you, or does it add pressure to your process if you know that when they sat down to conceive of a character, you were the first person that popped to mind?
BM: Um, well, to me it’s a great, it’s a great honor and very flattering. And I’m very excited. I’m excited that my work has inspired enough people, or to be regarded by enough people, that they actually think of me when they write something.
BM: It doesn’t get much better than that.
BVB: That’s true. It’s not like it used to be in the ‘70s when at a certain point actors that you remembered and recognized, they would start showing up on like Fantasy Island or The Love Boat or things like that.
BVB: I mean, someone of your talent, who is recognized for what you do, I think it’s amazing that people want to use you and they realize the value that you bring to a project, so I think that’s awesome.
BM: Well, thank you. And you know what I also try to do is I try to be a good worker too. In addition to whatever my imagination provides, you know, I try to show up without drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels (Laughing), be there earlier or on time at the latest. I don’t give a shit if I have blue M&M’s in my trailer. I don’t even give a shit for a trailer frankly. You know, I’m not that expensive and, when it comes right down to it, I know my lines and I’m usually prepared for the scene.
BVB: Right (Laughing) Bill, thank you so much. This is, like I said, this is an honor to actually get to have a conversation with you. And thank you for everything that you bring to the genre. You are one of my favorite actors and this is truly a pleasure and I just wish you well.
BM: Well, I appreciate it. Thank you so much, and I look forward to talking again sometime.
BVB: Absolutely. Take care. Enjoy Spooky Empire!