Exclusive: Bill Moseley from "The Devil's Rejects" (1)

Exclusive: Bill Moseley from "The Devil's Rejects" (1)
An interview with the actor who played Otis - Part 1 of 2
Updated: 07-27-2005

Bill Moseley – Moseying through the Horror

Interview by Staci Layne Wilson



Hardcore gore fans know Bill Moseley as Chop-Top, Leatherface’s brother, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Couch potatoes know him as Possum, the cook on HBO’s Carnivale. Erudite readers know him as a features writer for magazines such as Omni and Psychology Today. Headbangers know him as the voice of the rock band he’s in with Buckethead, Cornbugs.


Now perhaps he’ll be best-known by all as Otis Driftwood, a killer character that he’s played to perfection in two movies: 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects, released just last week. Rocker Rob Zombie wrote and directed both films.


In the first flick, by all accounts an over-the-top craze-fest, Otis was shown as a creepy albino with long, stringy hair and a lust for dead cheerleaders. He was one of three characters — along with Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Capt. Spaulding (Sid Haig) — who carved a niche in horror cinema fandom.


The second movie is a 180º turn in both tone and characterization. Otis is still a nasty necrophiliac, but this time he’s grounded in a gritty, ruthless reality — and all traces of the real Moseley disappear into the void as he brings the thrill-killer to the fore.



Horror.com / Staci Layne Wilson: Congratulations on all the praise and success of ‘The Devil’s Rejects’. I see it’s already made it’s money back for opening weekend and was doing $3,984 per screen — that’s pretty good.


Bill Moseley: I guess. I mean, I was hoping it would open at 16 million.


Well, I don’t know… you’ve got all those kiddies wanting to see ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ over and over again. That’s been #1 for weeks.


Yep. I’m sure there are a lot of kids who want to go see ‘Rejects’, but I’m not too sure they should.


They’ll probably sneak in anyway, but then they’re not counted towards the box office. So, what sort of feedback have you gotten since the movie opened?


I’ve gotten some emails. A lot of emails from fans who are happy and excited about it. It seems to me that this movie has satisfied our toughest audience: the hardcore horror fans. It seems like 90% of them have been just thrilled with this. It has exceeded their expectations.


Even Ebert and Roeper gave it the old thumbs-up.




I’d like to ask you a few background questions, because actually I’m curious myself: For example, how did you first meet Rob Zombie?


We first met in October of 1999. I was hired by a friend of mine who did publicity for Universal City Walk [adjacent to the Universal Studios amusement park and studio] in Burbank. Universal used to have an annual Haunted City Walk, where they’d cover it all in spider-webs, fog, and mazes, and hire a bunch of people to run around as monsters and scare people. Part of that week or two was a little in-house horror awards ceremony called the Eyegore Awards.


My buddy was looking for an emcee, and I had just finished working with Tobe Hooper’s son Tony on a video called ‘The All-American Massacre’. ‘The All-American Massacre’ was basically Chop-Top looking back on his life [laughs]. Todd Bates played Chop-Top in ‘Hitchhiker’ and also did the makeup for me as an older Chop-Top. So by meeting him for that little movie-ette, I was able to do the awards show in Chop-Top makeup.


So I brought Todd along, and his makeup assistants, and they did me up as Chop-Top in a tuxedo. I emceed the little core awards show like that. There were all kinds of people there, like Steven Sommers from ‘The Mummy’ and other Universal-related stuff, and then they brought out Rob Zombie. Rob had designed a haunted maze — I think they called it ‘The Thrillin’ Chillin’ World of Rob Zombie’ — so they gave him a little award, and I introduced him.


When Rob came out, I think he was a little freaked out that here was the real Chop-Top. He was a big Chop-Top fan. He freaked out, and then we talked backstage. His parents were there, Sheri was there, I brought my then-14 year old daughter and her little buddy… so we were all hanging out in the green room talking. A couple of months later I got a call at home from Rob’s manager Andy Gould, who announced that Rob’s screenplay had just been green-lighted and would I be interested in acting in it. And I said, ‘Shit, yeah!’ According to Sheri, I was the first guy that Rob hired — Rob hired me before he even hired Sheri, which is pretty exciting. That was the beginning of it.


You said Rob ‘freaked out’ — every time I’ve talked with him, he seems very understated and collected. I can’t conjure up the mental picture: How does Rob Zombie freak out?


I have a video of the awards show, and he came up to the mic, he looked at me, and he said, ‘If you’d told me that one day I would be handed a little demon statue by the guy who played Chop-Top, I’d have said you were crazy.’ I think it really freaked him out. He said later that he was watching me from backstage and was thinking to himself, ‘The guy’s a pretty decent Chop-Top, but not a great one.’ Then it occurred to him, ‘Holy shit, that is Chop-Top!’


Now you are Otis, another indelible cinematic character. Otis is actually my favorite. But I’m wondering what you personally think makes Otis likeable — I mean, it’s easy to see how Baby or Capt. Spaulding can be outwardly charming. But Otis really doesn’t have any wiles.


I guess it’s because Otis is a real human being in this go-round. Rob really wanted to stress the humanity of the monsters. That usually doesn’t happen in monster movies — if you in fact consider this a monster movie — really, you usually have Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers who are almost invulnerable, supernatural beings. They can get shot a hundred times and then get up and walk away. They don’t seem to have a lot of humanity. They have wisecracks to go along with the machete.


I think that [the human aspect] was an interesting challenge about Otis — to try to play him as calm and normal as I could. Just to be comfortable in Otis’s skin. Not to approach Otis as ‘crazy’, not as a supernatural person, but somebody who just needed to push it. There are very few times in the performance where Otis goes ballistic. The only time, really, that I can think of is when he’s dispatching Banjo & Sullivan [chuckles]. They put words in his mouth, and that’s what pisses him off — basically what they’re saying is Otis is a liar. They’re calling into question his integrity. And that’s the part that really pissed him off. They don’t know how bad he can be… but they do find out. What they don’t understand is, it’s not an act: Otis is not trying to lull them into thinking everything is going to be OK. What he’s doing is basically just… not kidding.


They say, ‘Well, what happens next after we dig up the guns?’ Well you know, that’s the end of the road. There’s not a sense of, ‘Oh, well, you know everything will be fine and you’ll go back home.’ He’s not lying to them.


Right. Otis doesn’t screw around.


No. He doesn’t. And it’s not like he’s letting them know this dark secret so they’ll freak out about it — it’s like, ‘That’s part of the deal.’


So you think people like Otis because he’s a straight shooter (so to speak…)?


Yeah, Otis is a straight shooter. [laughs] That’s for shit-sure. That’s certainly a very likeable aspect to him. Also, Otis has a sense of humor. Otis has a very keen sense of loyalty to family. He’s a good-time guy — he likes his Jack Daniels.


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Read part two of this interview by clicking here ...

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