Few horror movies are more acclaimed than the 1978 classic Halloween. The film that spawned numerous sequels and spinoffs and launched a merchandising empire, Halloween was an instant success. The franchise it inspired is still going strong to this day, with new fans discovering the original film every day. While many actors have stepped into Michael Myers’ iconic boots over the years, the first performer to embody the terrifying serial killer was Nick Castle. At the time, no one knew that they were making a horror classic, and Castle ended up making a very paltry sum for his work in the film.
John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ is a groundbreaking horror classic
Halloween tells the story of mental patient Michael Myers, who is committed to a sanitarium at six years old after murdering his older sister on Halloween night. Fifteen years later, Myers escapes the mental hospital to return to his hometown of Haddonfield and wreak havoc on the town’s residents, including high school student Laurie Strode.
Released in October 1978, Halloween‘s impact was immediate. Fans loved the classic haunted-house feel of the movie, and the terrifying score helped to enhance every frightening moment and sneak attack. More terrifying than anything else was the character of “The Shape,” Michael Myers, who stalked the streets of Haddonfield with a vengeance. Behind the rubber mask was Nick Castle, a writer and director who tackled the role of Michael because of his close friendship with the film’s director, John Carpenter.
The original Michael Myers only made $25 a day working on ‘Halloween’
Halloween might be a horror classic now, with a hugely successful merchandising operation – but in 1978, no one had any idea how popular the movie would become. Nick Castle, the very first man to play Michael Myers, told Vanity Fair in 2018 that he made a surprisingly small amount for his work in the film. “I was paid $25 per day for Halloween. That was a lot at the time!” Castle reminisced. “You have to remember: my interest in doing the film was being on set, so I could demystify the experience of filmmaking and directing. I expected to hang around the set for no money. But hey, $25 per day, and all I had to do was wear a rubber mask.”
He went on to discuss how he brought Michael Myers to life, noting, “It’s a mystery what John saw in me and the way I moved. I asked John, “What is this character going to do?” And he said, “Just walk across the street.” I knew Michael’s movements weren’t going to be robotic. He was a real guy. He’s not rushing.”
What is Nick Castle doing today?
For several decades, Nick Castle stepped away from Michael Myers, although his collaborations with Carpenter continued. The two worked together on films like Escape From New York and The Fog, all while Castle pursued his own creative efforts, according to IMDb, which included directing and writing screenplays. In 2018, Castle reprised the role of Michael Myers in Halloween, the direct sequel to the original film.
For fans, Castle’s role is nothing less than iconic. While many performers have taken on the persona of Michael Myers over the years, there’s something exceptional about the intensity that Castle brought to his work. These days, Castle is still writing, directing, and acting – and can be seen next in Halloween Ends, which is set for release in October 2022.