People can often carry out their life’s biggest fantasies when their identities are hidden by a disguise, but they often don’t ponder the effects their actions have on others until they’re forced to face the consequences of their choices themselves. Barry Bostwick appreciated having the opportunity to don extensive and frightening make-up for his role of The Devil in the ‘Night Billy Raised Hell’ segment of the new anthology horror film, ‘Tales of Halloween,’ which opened in theaters and on VOD and iTunes this weekend. The section of the independent movie, which was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, not only allowed the Golden Globe-winning actor the opportunity to portray an evil character he doesn’t typically play, but it also follows a naive young protagonist who seemingly decides to finally rebel against society.
‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ focuses on the Halloween antics of the young title character, who’s viewed to be weak by his older sister and her mean-spirited boyfriend. But Billy loves the holiday so much that he wears a devil costume mask as he goes trick-or-treating in the California heat. When his sister and her boyfriend urge him to play a prank on their creepy older neighbor, as they say it’s a rite of passage for everyone his age, he agrees, but only to stop them from spreading a mean rumor about him. But much to his surprise, Billy discovers their mean neighbor, Mr. Abbadon, is actually The Devil (Bostwick). Angry that he has been targeted again, The Devil decides to show Billy what Halloween is really about, and the two embark on a night of murder and mayhem.
Bostwick generously took the time to talk about filming ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ recently during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actor discussed how he was drawn to play The Devil in the segment because playing a character who’s in heavy disguise offered him the freedom to experiment outside of the characters he’s usually known for playing; and how he enjoyed working with Bousman on the segment, as the filmmaker encourages his actors to push the envelope as they develop their characters’ personalities and motivations.
ShockYa (SY): You star in the ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ segment of the new anthology horror film, ‘Tales of Halloween.’ What can you discuss about your character in, and the story of, your section of the movie, and why were you drawn to play him?
Barry Bostwick (BB): What attracted me to the role was the disguise. Playing a character who has a disguise was great. After going through three hours of make-up, I didn’t look like myself at all, which gave me an amazing amount of freedom to be somebody other than me. That’s how I really found the character. After they put on the make-up, I looked in the mirror and said, “Oh! That’s who this guy is!”
I don’t get the opportunity to be in that kind of make-up very often. I usually play the husband, father or grandfather in my projects. So to play this incredibly enthusiastic devil was something I really relished.
Also, working with Darren Lynn Bousman, the director, was great. I had just finished making a movie called ‘Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival’ with him. I think he’s wonderfully talented, original and brave as a director. He allows his actors to really push the envelope, in terms of character development. He always wants his actors to go bigger, as he wants very theatrical performances, and that’s what I think I gave him.
SY: Like you just mentioned, ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ was directed by Darren, with whom you previously worked with several times on other projects, including ‘Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival.’ How would you describe his helming style, particularly in the horror genre? What is your working relationship like with him on your collaborations?
BB: Darren actually also produced another movie that I starred in, which will be released around Christmas, which is called ‘Slay Belles.’ It’s another tongue-in-cheek horror comedy. He really understands these characters and stories. These characters and stories, as well as the way he directs you, are all larger-than-life. I have total trust in his vision, which is strong for all of his films. I like working with people who like to try something different and brave, and that’s what he is.
SY: Darren has said his horror musical films, including ‘Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival’ and ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera,’ were in part influenced by your horror musical, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What does it mean to you that ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ is still so influential amongst horror audiences and filmmakers?
BB: That’s one of the reasons why he and I got together in the first place-he’s such a fan of ‘Rocky Horror’ and many of the musicals of that era. He looked up to the actors as if we had anything else to do with the films than be cast in them.
I think we also have the same point-of-view; he sees the world in very colorful bits. He plays with camera angles like they did with ‘Rocky Horror.’ He also plays with themes that are different and provocative. He also surrounds himself with really talented artists, including the writers, actors and designers, such as those who work in the scene, costume, make-up, hair and departments.
That’s originally what ‘Rocky Horror’ was for me-it was about working with people who were at the top of their game. They were all different from other people working at the time, because they were pushing the envelope. That’s what Darren does on a daily basis.
SY: Like you mentioned earlier, you were able to relate to your character in ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ in part through your make-up. Why do you feel the make-up and costumes are so beneficial to these types of horror musicals?
BB: Well, if I didn’t have that makeup, I would have never been able to come up with the character. I probably would have been self-conscious, and trying too hard to be normal and real. But the moment you put on a fake nose and horns on your head (laughs), it gives you a freedom to be something that you’re not.
SY: In ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell,’ your character takes the young title character under his wing on Halloween night, and shows him the real power of pranks. Do you prefer taking on roles that are driven by the character’s physicality, and mixes the stunts with their emotional arc?
BB: Yes, I do. Again, it all comes from the visual aspect of filmmaking. If I look at what my face and costume look like, they really inform my walk, energy and gestures. They create an entirely different person and character. If I stay true to that, it helps me get through however long it takes to shoot the movie.
Thankfully, this segment only shot for two days, so I didn’t have to be in the make-up for that long. It took three hours to put it on, and about 25 minutes to take it off. I think the visual aspects of the film translate well into the physical elements of the characters.
SY: With ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’ essentially being a short film within the context of ‘Tales of Halloween,’ how does the process of preparing for short films compare and contrast to preparing for the feature films you’ve appeared in?
BB: I like working fast. I’ve starred on a lot of television shows in my life, as I like doing one or two takes, and then moving on. It keeps you focuses and your energy up, and also keeps you very spontaneous.
If I have had to sustain that kind of energy level for more than two days (on ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’), it might have turned into a different character. The character may not have been so enthusiastic. I’ve never played a character like this over the course of several weeks, so I don’t know how I would sustain that energy. But I’m sure it would be different. I would know going into it that I would somehow have to sustain a higher level of energy.
SY: Like you just mentioned, besides films, you have also starred on several television series throughout your career, including ‘Spin City’ and ‘Scandal.’ What is it about television that you enjoy working on so much? How does acting on TV series compare and contrast to performing in films?
BB: Well, with these types of movies, you have to do ones that you really love, because there isn’t any money in them. There isn’t any money in the making of them, so you do them for the experience of the days you’re on the set. You work with people you really enjoy collaborating with, and hope to work with again.
To get onto a long-running show like I did with ‘Spin City’ for six years is great. It’s a cliche, but you become a family. You spend more time with them than your real family most of the time.
I have diverse interests in acting. One week I want to play a standard character in a Hallmark original movie, and the next week I want to play the devil. It makes my life exciting.
SY: The anthology horror film is set to be released in theaters and on VOD and iTunes next Friday, October 16. Are you personally a fan of watching movies On Demand? Do you feel the platform is beneficial for independent movies?
BB: I don’t think filmmakers have a choice anymore; I think they have to release their movies On Demand if they want them to be seen. The opportunity for movies to be seen in actual movie theaters is becoming less and less, unless you’re making a big blockbuster.
Written by: Karen Benardello