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Dick Warlock
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an interview with dick warlock

(from the archives of Ziggy's Video Realm)

The Green Room

In early 2003, Ziggy was able to pose a few questions to actor/stuntman Dick Warlock, a man whose career has had him working on everything from Rollerball to Escape From New York to SpaceBalls to The Abyss. However, he's best known to most audiences for his role as "The Shape" in Halloween II, and is widely regarded as the best player ever to wear the white mask of Michael Myers. Here, Mr. Warlock takes a moment to reflect on his career, along with a few comments about his most famous work of all.

I hadn't realized it when I'd first made contact with him, but Dick Warlock had actually retired shortly before this interview was conducted. I knew I'd been quite fortunate to get the interview, and what ended up striking me the most about it was the absolute humility of the man so many have come to know as the meanest Michael Myers ever to wear the mask.

The Interview

Ziggy: Though most people know you from your work as Michael Myers in Halloween II, you’ve actually spent most of your career as a stuntman. What drew you into the field of stunt work?

Dick Warlock: Besides it being nothing more than a dream, being the stunt double for Dick Jones in the “Ranger Rider” television series back in 1954. Needless to say, at age 14 and after writing letters to Flying "A" Productions, I never [actually] became Dick's double. I finally met Dick in March of this past year (2003), and told him about my desires back then. He just couldn't understand my wanting to meet him and get a picture with him, much less wanting to be his double. After all, he was as talented at doing stunts, and did most of his own, as most of the stuntguys back then. Dick has had a varied career. He was a child star, the voice of Pinocchio, and besides playing Dick West in the “Rider” series, he played Buffalo Bill Jr. in the TV series of the same name.

Ziggy: What do you feel is the most difficult part of being a stuntman?

Dick Warlock: Getting the job. That may sound funny, but it's true. There are so many talented people out there that if you do get the job you must count your blessings.

Ziggy: Did you have to alter the type of stunt work that you could do as you got older, or did you find that this wasn't a factor?

Dick Warlock: Up until I retired, I did most of the same things. I found that I would get out of breath more often as I got older. I found out that it was because I had a damaged mitral valve in my heart, probably from birth. I've had open heart surgery to repair that since then, and feel much better.

Ziggy: What is your favorite type of stunt work to perform, and why?

Dick Warlock: I don't have a favorite. I am, in my own mind, a supporting player in the stunt arena. Not a star like Needham or Robinson. A jack of a lot of trades and master of none. A very blessed individual who, by the grace of God, got to do what he desired as a way to make a living.

Ziggy: What sorts of stunts to you find to be the most dangerous? What makes them so?

Dick Warlock: I would say the ones you have the least control over. A passenger, as it were. You are at the mercy of a piece of equipment or the operator of that piece. You might be in a situation where there is no way out if trouble arises. Not a good feeling.

Ziggy: Of all of the films that you have performed stunt work on – and you certainly have a very impressive resume – which was your favorite to work on, and why?

Dick Warlock: I have some favorites, like Jaws, but to pick one would be very difficult for me. The series of films I did at Disney is very hard to beat as far as fun.

Ziggy: What would you say is the most memorable stunt that you ever performed?

Dick Warlock: I'll let the reader decide that one.

Ziggy: What would you say is the most memorable stunt that you have seen someone else perform?

Dick Warlock: Again, there are too many to choose from to name just one. I guess that's why they have so many categories at the Stunt Awards Show.

Ziggy: Which do you find that you enjoy more, performing the stunts yourself, or working as a stunt coordinator, and why?

Dick Warlock: Both have advantages. Working for another stunt guy is neat because all you have to think about is the particular stunt you are asked to perform. When coordinating, you are responsible for the putting together of the stunt, hiring the right person, and answering to the powers to be if it doesn't go right. You also receive the accolades if it is good. And you don't put your own body through the trauma.

Ziggy: How did you find yourself being cast as The Shape for Halloween II?

Dick Warlock: I was hired as the coordinator, and when heading to the director’s office for a meeting, I saw the mask lying on someone's desk, put it on, and went to the director’s doorway and stood there. He asked who I was and I didn't answer. After that little game of cat and mouse, I had the meeting, and upon leaving I turned to him with mask in hand and asked if I could play this guy, and he said if Debra Hill approved, it was okay with him.

Ziggy: You certainly bring a huge amount of menace and personality to Michael Myers. What did you do to overcome the acting challenges of having your face completely hidden by a mask and having no dialogue?

Dick Warlock: Well, maybe it was the real me that came out. LOL. HE was in the mask when I put it on. Maybe Mr. Castle [the actor from the original film] was still in there someplace.

Ziggy: What did you find was the most difficult part of working on Halloween II?

Dick Warlock: Watching out for the safety of the actors, and being Michael.

Ziggy: As a member of the audience, what is your favorite scene from Halloween II?

Dick Warlock: The Hot Tub scene!

Ziggy: After working as The Shape on Halloween II, was it odd coming back to Halloween III for the stunt work (and an assassin’s role) without wearing the mask, or since no one was wearing the mask, did it seem like just another job?

Dick Warlock: You must remember that at the time, they were both just jobs. I had no idea of the fan base for this character until Don Shanks and I were working on “Married with Children” together and he told me. That was about 7 years ago. The movie is over 20 years old. You do the math.

Ziggy: Do you have any particular memories from working on Halloween III?

Dick Warlock: Fun. Every day.

Ziggy: At the end of the day, which work do you find the most satisfying, stunt work, or acting?

Dick Warlock: Acting. But I'm lousy at it, so I had to stick with stunt work.

Ziggy: Your body of work has crossed over many, many genres. Do you find that, behind the scenes, the overall atmosphere and process of putting the film together is the same from genre to genre, or are there ‘quirks’ specific to each?

Dick Warlock: The process of making a film to me is the same regardless of the genre. Now a film with kids, animals, or weather elements can vary in difficulty, but the mechanics are the same.

Ziggy: Final question I always ask; as a member of the audience, what are you favorite films?

Dick Warlock: The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Red River, An Affair to Remember, Jaws, and most of the old whodunnit and comedy films.

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- Interview conducted by Ziggy Berkeley, April, 2003

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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