Fans of the Halloween franchise know that slasher icon Michael Myers is fond of three things: carving people up, wearing a white-painted William Shatner mask, and tilting his head. The man who originated that distinctive gesture was Nick Castle, a college buddy of director John Carpenter and the person cast as Myers in the original 1978 version of Halloween. That film found Castle’s Myers killing the unfortunate Bob (John Michael Graham) by stabbing him with a knife and then tilting his masked head, as if to admire his demented handiwork.
So, how exactly did the head-tilt come about?
“I remember the scene vividly,” Castle tells EW. “John had me stand and look at the character, and I was behind the mask, and while the camera’s rolling he said, ‘Okay, tilt your head to the right, now tilt your head to the left.’ I had no idea what he was trying to get at until I saw the movie and I said, ‘Oh, how cool, it looks like I’m admiring my kill.’ That was John’s kind of inherent talent, coming up with that idea.”
Castle would go on to become a director in his own right, helming 1984’s The Last Starfighter, among other projects. Now, 40 years on, he has returned to the role of Myers. While stuntman and actor James Jude Courtney portrays the killer in most of the scenes in David Gordon Green’s new sequel, also titled Halloween (out Oct. 19), Castle visited the set to make a cameo as Myers in the film, which also sees original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis return as Laurie Strode.
“Nick brought all the mannerisms back,” says Ryan Turek, the vice president of feature film development at Blumhouse Productions and a co-producer on the new Halloween. “There was a great moment when you see Myers from afar, and David was communicating via walkie to an assistant director that was nearby Nick, and he just goes, ‘Tell him to do the Myers head-tilt!’ And two seconds later, we just see Nick tilt his head. We were like, ‘Oh!’ We got all chills and goose-bumpy. It was really cool.”