How exactly does an actor to prepare to portray a killer? It's not like there are 'how to be a killer' classes, and you really shouldn't take a Daniel Day Lewis-esque method approach. Well, for actor James Jude Courtney, who plays Michael Myers in the upcoming Halloween, he got advice from an actual hitman on how to kill people that he brought to the role, as he explained:
There's a stealth efficiency to the way an actual trained killer works. Movies tend to dilute that quality with dramatic pauses and dialogue, which a true predator would never waste time doing. That efficiency is what I took to the part of Michael Myers.
So basically, there's no dilly dallying or messing around, as a real killer isn't striking a pose to make sure he looks cool or delaying the end or monologuing about his master plan. They just kills, quickly and quietly. There is an immediacy to the work of an trained killer that perhaps isn't as cinematic, but in a way is scarier because of how there is no preparing for it or running from it; it just happens.
It will be interesting to see how James Jude Courtney brings this efficiency to Michael Myers, as he told Vanity Fair. While Michael Myers isn't what you would call verbose (so he won't be wasting time with dialogue), he isn't known for efficiency in the way James Jude Courtney describes it. Sure, he's efficient in that he gets the job done and a lot of people end up dead, but he doesn't seem to be in a rush to do so.
Instead, Michael Myers stalks, choosing to walk, not run, to that victim. He also likes to stand menacingly before his victims, savoring the kill to come as they face the inevitability of their end. So maybe James Jude Courtney will walk with more purpose and his movements will be more deliberate, in an effort to add a different level of efficiency to Michael Myers.
Of course, part of the distinction between Michael Myers and a real life hitman may be that one is a fictional psychotic killer who enjoys the act, whereas the other one is a killer, but in a different way, as it is more of a job. These diverging reasons behind the killing could also influence the efficiency and method of it. Plus, there has to be some pauses and such to build the tension and drama in a film like Halloween.
Perhaps just as interesting as the advice about how to kill people is how James Jude Courtney got it. The actor once met a real hitman who was just released from prison through a mutual acquaintance. The two wound up living together to work on the man's life story. When James Jude Courtney took the hitman to see his 1993 film The Hit List, the professional critiqued the dramatization of the killing that took away from the efficiency of the act.
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