The Halloween franchise has lasted over thirty-five years and remains incredibly successful. Many actors have taken on the role of Michael Myers. The character is one of the most infamous antagonists in movie history. It’s something in the blank mask, in the subtle body language, the fact that he lurks in the shadows and can appear out of nowhere at any moment that makes the character timelessly frightening. Referred to in the original script as “the shape” this is a character that is the total absence of humanity, it may wear the form of a human being, but deep down it isn’t one. This can be a difficult concept for an actor to play. But we’d like to pay tribute to the people that were up to the challenge.
Nick Castle played the role of the shape in John Carpenter’s original, immortal classic, Halloween. His performance is the best for many reasons, much of which is actually owed to Dean Cundey’s cinematography and John Carpenter’s visual style. Castle’s Michael Myers is hidden in shadows, in the background, for most of the film. Castle makes his performance look effortless. He was given virtually no direction and yet it all works, in part because it looks so casual and effortless. And that’s part of what makes the first film so haunting.
Dick Warlock took over the role in 1981’s Halloween II and did a very good job with it. Some fans think he was too robotic as Michael Myers, while others say that he was one of their favorites. I tend to agree with the second group. Dick Warlock brings a lot to the character of Michael Myers. He’s a tall, lanky figure, which makes for a great silhouette. His posture is incredible and there are some physical moments in his performance that are iconic now. While he may be stiff at times, in some ways, Warlock is the liveliest actor to take on the role. While it did not feature Michael Myers, Warlock did return to series as an actual robot in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
After a seven year absence, the producers decided it was time for a fourth Halloween film to resurrect Michael Myers after the box office failure that was Halloween III. It proved to be a wise decision and Halloween 4 is an atmospheric fan-favorite. People have a little less love for the mask used in the movie, though, which was due to a last minute mix up. Wilbur’s Michael is bulkier, much more physical, really playing up the physical aspects of the character. Although it was years later, Wilbur would be the first person to play the character of Michael Myers twice, in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
Don Shanks played Michael in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. While it has its fans, it’s not touted as one of the best films in the series. Still, Shanks gives it a good shot with a slow and creeping performance. The mask worn by Shanks was also not one that went over very well with Fans. It was too big, too bulky, with a distracting and overhanging neck. But it grows on you. And the man behind the mask does just as fine as any other.
Chris Durand is probably the most underrated actor to don the Michael Myers mask. He played the character in Halloween H20, a movie that was loved by critics but absolutely hated by fans. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to play Laurie Strode after twenty years to face off against Michael one last time and bring an effective end to the series. The actor playing Myers had to be able to go toe-to-toe with Jamie Lee Curtis. And Durand does that. Despite the mask controversy (there were numerous, numerous different masks used on Michael in this film) Durand does a great job and brings back a lot of physical ticks from the earlier films.
Loree played Michael Myers in the eighth film, Halloween: Resurrection. The seventh film may have served as a great finale, but that didn’t stop them from making one more, and the studio even had ideas in mind for this one when they were making Halloween H20. Laurie Strode is unceremoniously killed off at the opening of this film, after which the plot shifts to a webcam reality show that has taken up residence in the Myers house to try and determine what drove Michael Myers to murder. It tried to capitalize on the popularity of the (then new) Internet and starred Busta Rhymes in a leading role and even becoming the protagonist by the end of the film. Resurrection was riddled with problems, but Brad Loree’s performance as Michael Myers wasn’t one of them. The Canadian stunt man had a physical consistency with Chris Durand and kept some of the classic physical traits. The only fault with Michael is the mask, which had too much effort put into it and looks too fan-made and too perfect.
Finally, that brings us to Tyler Mane, who played Michael Myers in both Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake and its sequel Halloween II. While many fans have numerous problems with these films, few people really talk down to Mane’s portrayal of the character. In the early films, camera tricks were used to make Michael Myers appear nearly seven feet tall. But Tyler Mane actually is nearly seven feet tall. He’s an actor more than a stuntman, having been featured in Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects before this, as well as playing the character of Sabretooth in the X-Men movie. He was a great casting choice and his Michael Myers is more vicious and intense without straying too far from the original interpretations of the character. His Michael Myers is also (in the first film at least) gifted with one of the best masks since the original film.