Who Is ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Mystery Man Michael Garza?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is about a group of kids in the ‘60s who discover a legendary book called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. When Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colletti) reads from the book, the monsters from the stories begin coming to life and attacking her friends. The kids also have one new stranger to deal with, Ramon Morales played by Michael Garza.

Michael Garza
Michael Garza on the mic | Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for CBS Films

Garza joined writer/producer Guillermo del Toro, director Andre Ovredal and his costars to preview Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The movie hits theaters August 9, but you can meet Michael Garza early here on Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

Ramon Morales had other plans before he met these meddling kids

Stella has a group of small-town friends who go to school and play outside together. Even their older siblings are part of their group of friends. The one outsider is Ramon Morales.

“I play Ramon Morales, and I kind of stumble upon Stella and her friends in this town,” Garza said. “He doesn’t know any of them. He’s just kind of going passed town. He meets them and gets involved with Stella and her group of friends trying to stop this horror.”

Michael Garza plays the political horror of ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set in 1968, a volatile time in the U.S. The film has a political slant, although it’s in the background of the horror stories facing the kids. Ramon Morales brings a political angle to these small-town kids, as someone of age to be enlisted in the Vietnam War.

“He has his own struggles with being a draft dodger,” Garza revealed. “Even it being in 1968 during the Nixon election, there’s a lot of problems.”

Michael Garza saw real monsters in ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

Monsters aren’t real, right? You only read about them in books or see them in movies. Well, if you’re making a horror movie, you see real monsters.

“Acting with the practical effects, oh my God,” Garza said. “Even the actors who play them and the costumes, it’s incredible. It takes a lot of the work out of it because it’s like, “Oh my God, that’s terrifying!” You’d be sitting in your cast chair and right next to you is Big Toe Man just sitting there.”

Fans of Alvin Schwartz’s book will recognize the monster who comes for Ramon. At least they’ll recognize the name Jangly Man. In the movie, he may look different than the illustrations in the book.

“I think they took him from some different stories and created him, which is really cool,” Garza said. “It’s a new monster that no one has seen.”

Landing the role was a whirlwind for Michael Garza

Due to Ramon Morales’ complicated backstory, it was difficult for del Toro and Ovredal to find the right actor for the role. They only discovered Michael Garza at the last possible moment.

“I got cast a couple days before filming because they couldn’t find who they wanted,” Garza said. “So it was a last-minute audition and I got it. It was crazy, a whirlwind of emotions.”

So emotional that Garza can’t even reveal what his audition scenes were. They are pretty fraught scenes that could spoil the movie.

“There are some we can’t talk about because they’re spoilers,” Garza said. “A lot of them were just discovering things, building chemistry.”