Why Portraying Michael Myers Is a Terrifying Challenge

In the original 1978 film, the character was called "The Shape." How does an actor play that?

michael myers
Actor Tony Moran, as masked kiler Michael Myers, wields a knife in a still from the horror film, 'Halloween,' directed by John Carpenter, 1978. The fictional Myers has a wild origin story. (Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images)
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Movie monsters tend to scare up a good living for actors. Boris Karloff became one of the most popular film stars of the 1930s after he took on the role of Frankenstein’s monster and was able to elicit both sympathy and horror. Robert Englund’s comic timing as Freddy Krueger made sure Nightmare of Elm Street lasted for eight films. Bill Skarsgard generated Oscar chatter for his unpredictable take on Pennywise in last year’s It. 

But in comparison, Michael Myers is not a “juicy” role, writes The New York Times. 

The silent slasher does not emote, he moves impassively as he stalks and kills. In the 1978 film, the character was billed as, “The Shape.” How do you portray something with such a monicker? 

Eight actors have tried to play Michael Myers over 10 films, the latest of which, Halloweenopened Friday.

“He wasn’t human and he wasn’t supernatural. He was somewhere in between. He was the Shape,” said John Carpenter, who directed and wrote, with Debra Hill, the original, to The Times. He could be anywhere at night. He could be in the shadows. He’d watch you. And even though he moved like a human being, there was something about him … different.”

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