Character actor Bill Moseley is in the unique position of having one of those recognizable faces that frequently spawns a sense of unnerved dread or disgust when people place it. But that’s a good thing, actually. With dozens of credits to his name, the amiable Moseley has carved out a position as the star or featured player in a number of horror flicks with high cult appeal. He made his mark as Chop Top in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,” and, years later, Otis B. Driftwood in Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, “House of 1000 Corpses.” His latest movie is “The Tortured,” in which he plays a pedophile and murderer who claims the young son of Jesse Metcalfe and Erika Christensen. For ShockYa, Brent Simon had a chance to speak to Moseley one-on-one recently, about the movie, some of his weird experiences with horror fans, his lifelong love of music, and his role in the upcoming “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D.” The conversation is excerpted below:
ShockYa: How did “The Tortured” first come your way?
Bill Moseley: I was actually working at the time on “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” in I think 2008. I was in Toronto and one of the producers, Carl Mazzocone, approached me and said he had a great script, a movie about a child killer who’s tortured, and said, “I’d love to have you play the child molester and murderer,” and I said, “Oh great, thanks Carl!” I have kids of my own, so it wasn’t exactly one of those roles of a lifetime that you pray you’re going to get. But I love Carl, who’s also producing “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D,” so out of respect to him I read the script. And I thought it was awesome. I liked the story, and of course you have to have a good story or you’re pretty much lost before you start.
ShockYa: You have a couple daughters. At what point did you feel comfortable sharing the bulk of your work as an actor with them, or is it still too soon for your youngest?
BM: Well, I have a 25-year-old who’s probably seen all of my movies by now. I also have a 13-year-old who’s graduating from eighth grade later this afternoon, and she really hasn’t seen much of daddy (at work). She’s seen my actor’s reel, so she’s seen me in action as Chop Top and Otis a bit, and she’s seen kind of an edited version of “Repo!,” which she does like. My kids kind of put up with it, it’s nothing that they really freak out about. It’s also interesting, though, because my oldest daughter is a sculpter who lives in upstate New York. She went to Bard College, a nice art school, and a lot of her sculptures have a kind of horror cast through them, so I’m kind of proud. [laughs] I guess in some ways I’ve kind of helped influence her creative perspective. But for the most part — if you saw our house, for instance — we have a couple cats and that’s it. We don’t have any body parts in the fridge. It’s just what daddy does, I guess.
ShockYa: Was it always that way, though?
BM: I do remember many years ago, when my oldest daughter was maybe seven or eight, and I heard her call out weakly in the middle of the night. I jumped out of bed and went into her room and asked her if everything was okay. She said she’d had a nightmare, and I said, “That’s too bad sweetie, what was it about?” She said, “I don’t wanna say.” I said, “C’mon sweetie, what was it about?” And she said, “Candyman.” And I said, “Sweetie, your father is Chop Top and Chop Top kicks Candyman’s ass.” [laughs] It just kind of came out, like it was a matter of professional pride or something. I know Tony Todd and I wouldn’t want to tangle with him, but just in that moment it was like, “Hey, your dad’s a monster, you don’t have to be afraid,” and she kind of looked at me [and relaxed], and got it, and then went right back to sleep. So sometimes it’s not all bad.
ShockYa: Horror fans are tremendously loyal, but the genre also lends itself to a little bit of weirdness. What have been some of your more interesting encounters with fans?
BM: One time in the mail I got a bleached cow hoof. I guess that it was a love object or something. It was from a guy, a guy in Oregon. I guess it was meant to be a positive thing? It wasn’t like a horse head in your bed, from “The Godfather.” But I considered that a bit weird, and I disposed of the hoof. And I was at a convention one time down in Corpus Christi, Texas, in an old hotel that had two elevators, both of which were Otis (brand) elevators. There was a brass floorplate in each of the two elevators, with the name Otis. I remember getting on the elevator one day and looking down at the floor randomly, and I noticed that there was some spilled stage blood on the name. And the doors closed, down I went, and I had breakfast or whatever. Then going back up to my room I got on the other elevator, looked down and saw that that too was covered with stage blood. And then later that night, the phone rang in the middle of the night, and there was a female voice saying, “Did you see the elevators?” And I went, “Yeeaaaah?” And she said, “I’m your stalker.” And I remember just saying, because I was tired and confused from having been woken up, “Well, stalk me later,” and then I hung up the phone. [laughs] And that was basically the end of it. So every once in a while people get a little frisky, but I think that horror fans, in terms of a group, are really some of the most stable people I’ve ever met. I love the horror fans and am happy to embrace them, unarmed.
ShockYa: Music has been another big passion in your life. You’ve played with Buckethead, and released albums. Has that been a big part of your life since childhood, and what creative urges does that satisfy that acting maybe doesn’t?
BM: Yeah, music was always something that was prized in my family growing up. My mom was a dedicated boogie-woogie piano player — she loved Scott Joplin and Fats Waller, and practiced and played a lot. My two brothers and I were all given piano lessons, but for me it felt like the Bataan Death March. My younger brother is a really great piano player and my older brother also plays quite well. I didn’t really like it, so [where] I ended up finding my bliss was (in) percussion. I started, I think, on the dashboard of the family car and on the bottom of wastebaskets, and finally I got my first set of bongos at an early age. I still have those, and a Haitian voodoo drum. I love banging on things. And my brothers and I had a little band… when we were back in high school. I played drums and did vocals and harmonica, my younger brother played piano, and my older brother played bass. That kind of started it. When I worked with Buckethead… [that experience] actually put me in good stead because with Buckethead what you see is what you get — you might see him one day and then not hear from him for six months. So if you do something and then want to change something tomorrow that chance may never happen. You have to be quick on your feet. So with the Cornbugs, the band that Buckethead and his drummer Pinchface and I had, we ended up with about five CDs worth of material, and we never did a second take. We basically just made it all up on the spot. And [that] spontaneity was great, though of course it doesn’t hurt to work with the greatest guitar player on the face of the Earth. My latest CD is with a musician named Rani Sharone, who has a band called Stolen Babies. We have a (side project) called Spider Mountain, and a CD called “No Way Down,” and what’s great about that is that Rani is much more of a composer, and has a studied approach. So that was the first time that I really had a chance to construct songs (in a traditional fashion). We actually used the same producer, Travis Dickerson, who helped with all the Cornbugs CDs. It’s a whole different sound — Spider Mountain is kind of a dark carnival, Danny Elfman-type sound. And then thanks to “Repo!” I’m great friends with (Nivek) Ogre, the lead singer of Skinny Puppy. He asked me to do some spoken word on one of his solo albums, “The Devil Is In My Details,” and that was a lot of fun too.
ShockYa: You mentioned “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D,” which releases next [January], I believe. What can you tell us about that?
BM: We shot that in and outside of Shreveport, Louisiana, and the week that I worked on it, I think the temperature was about 104 degrees, with 90-plus-percent humidity. So that was its own challenge. I play the cook, Drayton Sawyer, and that was also loads of fun. I certainly wasn’t trying to fill the shoes of the late, great Jim Siedow, but we were personal pals, so I considered it a honor to be handed his legacy. And it basically begins where the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” ends, so that’s exciting. It turns out that the movie rights for the original “Chainsaw” are different than the movie rights to “Chainsaw 2,” and so there was no Chop Top in the original “Chainsaw,” so that was my gig. I tried to look and act like Jim Siedow, but I think that’s a little impossible. [laughs] But hopefully I captured his posture and speech patterns and spirit. …I hope we break the mold and kick some honest horror butt!
Written by: Brent Simon