Earlier this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with horror legend Bill Moseley about his scene-stealing performance in Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland (you can read the first part of that interview HERE). And now that the film is set to arrive in select theaters, on Demand, and on Digital today, courtesy of RLJE Films, we thought it was the perfect time to share the second part of our chat with Moseley.
In this part of the interview, the genre icon discusses his creative approach to his character The Governor, how his costume helped inform his performance on the set of Prisoners of the Ghostland, and more about his experiences collaborating with Sono as well as with his co-star Nicolas Cage.
When you and director Sono were working through this character of The Governor, did you give this guy any sort of backstory? Did you figure out how he came to be in the place that he is, where everybody is working in service of him because of how he wields his power?
Bill Moseley: Well, I certainly had plenty of ideas, and I had talked to Reza [Sixo Safai, co-writer] about it. And so, I had a general idea, but the breakthrough for me was when I met Sion. It was at his hotel in Maibara, and I went over to put my costume on. One of the things that had been done long before I got to Japan was that I was sent measurements, because they were going to construct the suits in Japan, and they wanted my measurements. But instead of just waist and inseam, there were more than 30 different measurements, I think.
So I put on this amazing suit, which was perfectly tailored to my frame, and I still wasn't really sure. But then the red gloves came out, and when I put on the red gloves, that’s when I realized, "Ah, okay. This character represents basically everything that's wrong with capitalism, where everything is white, except for the ‘blood’ on his hands.” That's when I got it. And I met with Sion, and he was very nice and he confirmed it. That was when the magic happened.
I wanted to ask about the location of Samurai Town specifically, because I really enjoyed that set. I'm a big nerd for production design and all the details of filmmaking and things like that. That locale adds a lot to this film. Did that location allow you to find any room to be able to play around with this character at all or help heighten your performance while you guys were shooting?
Bill Moseley: Samurai Town was very important to my performance. What I would do, just as a point of reference, every time I set foot on the set, I would go over and say hello to all the heads. There was that wall of women's heads sticking out of the wall and very much alive. And between that and the cherry blossoms, that got me into the world. I thought it was fantastic. There was actually a restaurant on that set, with a neon sign that read “Montparnasse,” which is like the French restaurant called Montparnasse. But I insisted on being photographed in front of it because Mount Parnassus is where I proposed to my wife. So I liked that it gave me that kind of a special connection.
I loved Samurai Town, but the first set I saw when I got to the set was The Ghostland. There were these ruins of some kind of old factory and there was this huge clock. You could tell that Sion was really going for it here. And then I also got to reconnect with Nic. I had met him before because we had worked together on the Werewolf Women of the SS trailer for Grindhouse. He was such a great guy. He was very warm, and he was very excited to work with me, because of my work with Rob [Zombie], because he and Rob are such good friends. So that was also very welcoming and made me feel like I was really part of the team, so that was nice.