There’s only one Bill Moseley. The Horror Icon and living legend is a welcome addition to any project, but even casual fans will know his two most famous characters, Chop Top and Otis Firefly. Most actors are lucky to get one iconic role, but he has two, both equally beloved. Nowadays, Moseley is more ubiquitous than ever before (lucky for us), with his latest role finding the actor going toe to toe with another legend in the form of Nicolas Cage. In Prisoners of the Ghostland, an action horror hybrid with elements of western movies, samurai tales, and plenty more besides, Moseley plays The Governor, a thorn in the side of Cage’s bad-ass Hero. The two men are even styled as diametric opposites, with Cage in a black leather onesie and Moseley resplendent in a sharp white suit.
Wicked Horror caught up with the esteemed star to talk career longevity, the importance of costuming, and what Nic Cage chats about around the fire.
WICKED HORROR: This is a pretty crazy movie, with a lot of different things going on at once. What was it that attracted you to this particular project?
BILL MOSELEY: Well I’m close friends with the co-writer, Reza Sixo Safai, and he was describing the story he’d written to me. I invited him to a screening of 3 From Hell, Rob Zombie’s Firefly trilogy, the last one – the latest one – and he saw Otis there with his big beard [laughs] and made a connection to The Governor, pitched the idea to me and I was really into it. I was a big fan of [director] Sion Sono too, I’d seen a bunch of his movies, starting with Tag and Tokyo Tribe and Suicide Club, finishing off with Cold Fish, so I was very excited about working with him too. And then obviously I was a big Nic Cage fan, as most of us are, and especially with his recent work in Mandy and Colour out of Space, I just was really excited about working with him. And also it was also the opportunity to go to Japan and make a movie! So I guess that’s what attracted me! [laughs]
WICKED HORROR: What about that amazing all-white suit? Did that help you get into character at all? It’s so fantastic.
BILL MOSELEY: The suit, yes, in fact I kind of had a general idea about the character but then one of the things that kind of got my attention was wardrobe sent me, when I was still in the States, they wanted a list of maybe 30 measurements, so wrists, ankles, just above and beyond the regular tailor measurements like your waist and your neck and whatever. So when I got to Japan I put the suit on and I was with Sion, I’d just met Sion at the wardrobe fitting, and I put this incredible suit on, and felt so good and then they gave me my big hat, I put that on, and I was really starting to get a feel for The Governor, the idea was starting to come together in my head. And then they brought out the blood-red gloves and as soon as I put them on, Sion looked at me and just went “governor.” So, The Governor was more than just a tin-horn despot, The Governor represented something. Maybe the west or capitalism or something, where you’ve got that kind of Colonel Sanders look but you’ve got the blood-red hands, like quite literally the blood on your hands. Once I pulled those gloves on and saw myself in the mirror and saw that smile from the director, I was like okay, I know what to do here [laughs]. And then the voice came, really, from that moment.
WICKED HORROR: The voice kind of comes from the hat down, if you know what I mean?
BILL MOSELEY: Totally. In my head, it was kind of a cross between Colonel Sanders – you know, Kentucky Fried Chicken – and Foghorn Leghorn, the cartoon rooster. Somewhere in there, just full of braggadocio, just [adopts perfect southern drawl] “I’ll tell ya, boy!” Dominating. There’s a lot of cream in that cream puff! Once I got that, I was off and running.
WICKED HORROR: You’ve played a lot of villains in your career. Would you say you’re more attracted to playing the bad guys, are they more interesting to play overall?
BILL MOSELEY: Absolutely. And usually a lot more fun than playing the good guys. I’m sure there are some good guys that are fun to play, but for me in particular I’m a big horror fan, I love monsters, always have, and some of the characters that I’ve got to play really have the best lines and the best makeup. You’re in the makeup chair a little longer than the good guys but for the most part it’s so much fun. Did you ever see that movie, Repo! The Genetic Opera?
WICKED HORROR: Of course!
BILL MOSELEY: Right, well with that movie, the director Darren Lynn Bousman gave me the choice of playing either Pavi or Luigi. In that case, I chose Luigi because it was not a makeup role [laughs]. It was fun to play Luigi. I thought OhGr from Skinny Puppy did a really great job playing Pavi too, he was really born to play that role.
WICKED HORROR: Are you becoming choosier, as you get older and your priorities shift, in your career?
BILL MOSELEY: Not really. I just like to work. The older I get, not that I get better at it, but just in terms of work ethic and just the gratitude for continuing to work hopefully well into my nineties [laughs]. I appreciate it, I love it, I like the sets, I like working with other actors and new directors, so I don’t really think my approach has changed or my ambitions, the only thing that’s changed is I’ve got more professional, I suppose, but I just enjoy it just as much as I always have.
WICKED HORROR: You’re in pretty high demand these days, to be fair.
BILL MOSELEY: Well, I hope so. This movie hasn’t opened yet! [laughs]
WICKED HORROR: You mentioned the great Nic Cage before, so tell me, how was it tussling with him on this movie?
BILL MOSELEY: It was so much fun. I was nervous at first, he’s got an intimidating career and I’m such a big fan of his, and was before shooting this movie, so the idea of working with him was at first a little daunting because I wasn’t sure what he was going to think of me and how I was approaching my character, etc., etc. But he couldn’t have been nicer, he couldn’t have been more professional, he wasn’t difficult in any way, shape or form. He was always on time, knew his character, was ready to go. He’s just a professional, and he goes for it, which is what I like to do too, so we were kind of birds of a feather in that regard. Off camera, he was a very nice guy too, very polite, very nice, very civil. We had a couple of wonderful chats around the hand-warmer at night while they were getting shots set up. It was November and December of 2019 in central Japan so it gets cold. We had some nice chats around the campfire, waiting for the next shot. I really liked him a lot. My wife, Lucinda Jenney, actually worked with him on Peggy Sue Got Married many years earlier, so we both have a lot of affection for Nic.
WICKED HORROR: Did you guys compare notes?
BILL MOSELEY: Not really, but she calmed my nerves and just let me know we were going to have a great time. And she was right!
WICKED HORROR: Just as we’re wrapping up here, is there anything you would never do in your career?
BILL MOSELEY: Retirement! [laughs]
WICKED HORROR: Good answer!
BILL MOSELEY: I’m ready to keep going, I love what I do. An actor never retires, we just keep rolling along until that donut rolls out of our hand [laughs].
WICKED HORROR: Luckily you’re getting better with age.
BILL MOSELEY: Well I’m glad to hear that. I really appreciate you saying that, so thank you very much.
Catch Bill Moseley in Prisoners of the Ghostland in theaters, on VOD,
and on Digital from September 17, 2021