Actor Bill Moseley is known around the world as Choptop, his character from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and more recently for his role as Otis in Rob Zombies’ House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. When I most recently had a chance to chat with Bill, we dug a little farther back.
A graduate of the prestigious Yale University, Bill began his career in New York as a journalist. Actually, acting wasn’t even on Bill’s radar. He told me, “As a college student, I never thought in my wildest dreams that acting could be my career! I come from Midwest stock, railroad people, and the idea of pursuing an acting career was akin to running off to join the circus. It wasn’t until I landed the part of Choptop in Texas Chainsaw 2 in 1986, twelve years after I’d graduated from Yale, that it occurred to me that you could actually make a living — and a pretty good one! — at this acting thing. 2014 marks my 30th anniversary as a card-carrying Screen Actors Guild (SAG) member. I’ve got health benefits for me and my family, a decent pension, and I’m still working. Go figure!”
Even after the take off of his acting career, Bill remains a literature fanatic, and still enjoys writing a variety of work, saying: “As a freelance writer living in New York City in the 70’s and 80’s, the world was my oyster. Culturally, I was at ground zero for punk & new wave (CBGB’s, Mudd Club, Danceteria) and Disco, (Studio 54 & Xenon). My favorite publication was the late, great Omni Magazine. I wrote about riding with the Guardian Angels, boom boxes, subway graffiti art, but my specialty was interviewing scientists. The list included Nobel-prize winners like Linus Pauling and Carleton Gadjusek, director James Cameron, astronaut Sally Ride, “Dr. Strangelove” himself — Edward Teller, and many more. Lately my writing has focused on screenplays, song lyrics (for my bands Cornbugs and Spider Mountain), and the occasional article for magazines like Fangoria & Rue Morgue. I also keep active fingers for my social media accounts on Facebook & Twitter (@choptopmoseley).”
The year 1986 was not only the year of Choptop, but also a less known role as serial killer Quilt Face in the science fiction thriller, Osa, directed by Oleg Egorov and also starring Kelly Lynch and Patricia Quinn. Bill talked about taking the role of Quilt Face and his thoughts on getting into the world of acting. He said, “I look at acting like a treasure hunt, and the treasure is the truth of the character — finding out who they really are.” While his characters are often larger than life, dark, and demented, there is also an endearing, absurdist side to them — an aspect that makes Moseley well loved among horror fans. “If there is a common thread in my demented characters, it’s that they’re all happy in their work. As an actor, my personal joy in playing these crazy kooks shows through — it’s fun!! Also, I learned early on that no matter how insane a character might be, you have to play him as if you think you’re the only sane one in the room! I love my monsters, love playing them, what they’ve taught me. I gotta say, I sleep soundly, and I’m mostly not afraid of the dark.”
Safe to say Bill Moseley truly does take pleasure in his work — and scaring the crap out of anyone he can. Revealing his favorite behind the scenes memory on a film, Bill shared, “One day on the set of Chainsaw 2, as I was hanging out in full Choptop between scenes, I noticed a well-heeled woman with a little boy. The boy saw me and clung tightly to his mother’s leg. She patted him on the head and said, ‘Don’t worry, Johnny, he’s not real; he’s just an actor wearing makeup.’ I approached mother and son, smiling, leaned down and whispered in the boy’s little ear: ‘Don’t believe it.’”