Is it a spoiler to say that Bill Moseley returns as Otis Driftwood in Rob Zombie’s new film, 3 From Hell? How can it – he’s right there in the posters and trailers. Still, considering the ending of The Devil’s Rejects looked to put a nail in the proverbial coffin of Otis, Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), it’s a horror miracle if ever there was one.
In advance of the Fathom Events screening of 3 From Hell, I had the chance to chat with Bill about Otis, Rob Zombie and more.
Andy Burns: How did you find out that Rob wanted to do 3 From Hell?
Bill Moseley: Rob actually called me and Sid to have lunch with him and Sheri, and that sounded good to us. So, we showed up. That was about two years ago. We showed up at a vegan restaurant because Rob and Sheri are both very vegan. During the course of our delicious meal, Rob said, “What do you think about getting the band back together?” And we said, “Fuck, yeah!”
AB: Were you surprised that Otis was coming back? Did you think like the rest of us he was gone after the end of The Devil’s Rejects?
BM: For many years, Sid Haig and I would go to our different horror conventions. We used to make a joke when people would come up and say, “Is there ever going to be a sequel?” And, in unison, we would say, “No, because we’re fuckin’ dead!” But, there was one thing that we hadn’t taken into account. That was the accuracy of the Ruggsville Sheriff’s Department. When you think about it, we’re going out in a hail of bullets, but it’s the Ruggsville Sheriff’s Department that’s firing the rounds. And they’re not very good, apparently.
AB: How do you prepare to return to that character? Do you go back and watch the previous films or is he always with you?
BM: The first thing I did to prepare for Otis in 3 From Hell was to grow that beard! I grew that beard probably for better than a year and a half, much to the chagrin of my wife, who isn’t really a big fan of the beard. Although, she gets hers! She actually plays Nebraska in 3 From Hell, the female bounty hunter. The beard got her back for that. But, I grew that beard every day for a year and a half. And every day I was getting more “Otis.” Actually, it ended up being not very difficult. Otis is really kind of like riding a bicycle. Once I got to the set, I think it was day two, and I had kind of a mini-monologue to deliver. I was dropping the lines. I did a couple of takes and I was stumbling over words. I said, “Let me have a time out here. Just let me have a second.” And I remember sitting down and this voice saying, “Bill, get out of the way. Let Otis take over.” And it was Otis. Bill, with the Hollywood actor insecurities, got out of the way. Otis took over, and the rest of the way was smooth sailing.
AB: How long did you guys shoot?
BM: It was actually a pretty good shoot! Altogether, it was maybe six to eight weeks. It was very intense. We had very few days off and we all worked our butts off.
AB: Is there a lot of fun in that intensity, as well?
BM: Absolutely! And, you know, it felt like we hadn’t really missed a beat. It was so much fun working again with Sheri and Sid, of course. Seeing Danny Trejo, although I do eat at his taco stand. I’ve been putting money in his pocket for a couple of years. It was great working for the first time with Jeff Daniel Phillips, Pancho Moler, and especially Richard Brake. I thought he was fantastic and so much fun to work with. But, ultimately, it came back down to working with Rob again. I hadn’t done that for a couple years. That was very easy to slide back into. I love working with Rob because he really knows what he wants. He’s written it, so he’s not translating. He knows exactly what he sees in his mind’s eye. And he’s very chill! He’s a really good director, knows the technical stuff, and that makes it very easy to work.
AB: Tell me something about Rob Zombie as a director that makes him different from every other director you’ve worked with.
BM: He and Sheri are vegan, so there’s a vegan craft service. No salami for Bill, which is actually a good thing. My younger daughter is also a vegan, so it’s a direction I am kind of slowly being guided toward by my friends and family. As I said before, he’s a writer/director, so the stuff he writes, he knows what he wants in every scene, every line of dialogue because he created it.
It’s also cool because he’s collaborative. That’s certainly not unique to Rob. I certainly found that working with Tobe Hooper, with George Romero via Tom Savini, certainly Sam Raimi. I mean, there’s a bunch of different directors who are collaborative, meaning that they’re not like Ahab running the ship. If you have a good idea and it works, and it works better than their idea, they’re more than happy to have you pipe in. That stuff is good. As an actor, you have to work different ways under different directors. Some want you to say every “a” and “the” and put every period in its proper place. They want you to turn this way and make this kind of a smile. It’s not exactly organic acting, necessarily, but it’s certainly a kind that I can do. But, you know, as actors, we all love to be a part of the process. With Rob, he encourages it. When you say something cool that he hadn’t thought of, which isn’t, by the way, that often, but it does happen, and he’s happy to add it in there. I first got a taste of that when I worked on Texas Chainsaw 2 with Tobe Hooper. He loved my improv. I was just kind of going off as Chop Top. My head was shaved, I had a plate, you know, I had never done it before. So, I really was Chop Top for a while, there. Tobe was just having a ball watching me work. A lot of that stuff that you might have seen in Chainsaw 2 came trippingly off the tongue in the moment. I love that, and I’m glad to be able to contribute when I can in that direction.
So, working with Rob, you know. This is my third time with him. He’s in charge of this series. Not to mention, I was in Werewolf Women of the SS. I had a cameo in Halloween. We did a couple of music videos. So, I know Rob, and we’ve worked together a lot. That also makes it a lot easier. There isn’t that getting-to-know-you awkward period there. We just jump right into it. That made the experience even more fun.
AB: Ready to play Otis again?
BM: Absolutely. If the Batphone rings, I am absolutely ready to jump in the Batmobile and drive wherever I’m needed.
Don’t miss Rob Zombie’s new film, 3 From Hell, screening exclusively in theatres for three nights only, September 16th, 17th and 18th through Fathom Events. Get the details here.