Sometimes in Hollywood, you can forge new bonds from the most unexpected places. For Bill Moseley he found one such opportunity working with Japanese director Sion Sono. I spoke to the actor about his upcoming movie Prisoners of the Ghostland about how he got involved in the project, working with Sono, reuniting with co-star Nicolas Cage, and the peculiar inspiration behind his character The Governor. The film follows a notorious criminal who must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.
One thing that surprised Moseley is how the director followed his work in his frequent collaborator in musician and director Rob Zombie on his films. ": I am friends with the co-writer Reza Sixo Safai, and I had invited him to a screening of 3 from Hell, and I think that he noticed that big beard and 3 from Hell fired him up in terms of the character of the Governor. I think he was the one that suggested me. It turns out our director, Sion Sono, was a fan of mine because I guess he watched the Rob Zombie movies, among others like The Devil's Rejects, House of a Thousand Corpses, 3 from Hell, etc. He was very excited about me playing the Governor. So that's how I got the job."
Moseley coincidentally also followed Sono's work. "Japanese crews are very organized…man, they work," he said. "It's very interesting because I think there is really more of a…I don't know if you call it a spiritual aspect to the movie-making than say in the States that I'm used to. Everybody works really, really hard, very happy to work. So that part of the set was really exciting for me and fun, certainly working with Sion; I am a fan of his movies like Tag (2015), Tokyo Tribe (2014), Suicide Club (2001), Exte: Hair Extensions (2007), Why Don't You Go Play in Hell? (2013) [laughs], and my favorite is Cold Fish (2010). I was just in awe of him as a director."
When it came to working with Cage, Moseley recalled when they initially met on the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez film Grindhouse (2007), which featured a few guest directors working on fake trailers, including one put out by Zombie himself. "I have met Nic Cage a couple of times, once at Rob Zombie's wedding many years ago, and also we shared a makeup trailer when Rob was doing the fake trailer for Grindhouse called Werewolf Women of the SS and Nic, and I was both in that. I had never really met him. It was very cursory, and I didn't know what it was going to be like to work with him. It was pretty daunting because I'm a big fan of his, and it turned out to be one of the best moviemaking experiences of my life."
Unlike anything he's experienced before, Moseley recalled filming due to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent star. "I was a little nervous at first because [Cage] is an Oscar-winning actor and a name that I've followed for many years and been a big fan of," he said. "So I was a little nervous that he might not like what I was bringing to the table, but he was a professional from the get-go and really nice. Before we even started shooting, he took the cast and crew out to Thanksgiving dinner in November of 2018. We went around the table, and they were all 30 of us said what we were grateful for. There was something kind of there was a different level. It wasn't just a crank them out kind of movie. There was something there was a spirit involved in it. That also was it was above and beyond a routine production. He was really at the head of that. When he worked, he was well-prepared. He knew exactly what he was going to do. He had really worked it out. He had worked out the choreography. When you had his fight scenes with me, I just basically stood there and described [laughs]. I had a lot of descriptions. So that was my challenge as I was walking through rice fields along the shores of Lake Biwa, which is outside of the town of Maibara [Japan], where we shot the movie. It is about halfway between Kyoto and Tokyo. I would just walk around when I wasn't working and just pound those lines because I had a lot of technical stuff to deliver but to deliver it in kind of a cold, cool, and calm way as the Governor and I spent a lot of time counting lines. It all worked out pretty smoothly."
For Moseley's inspiration for the Governor, there was plenty of fowl play. "I think of the Governor as kind of a cross between Colonel Sanders and Foghorn Leghorn," he said. "It's kind of a blustery cartoon rooster. A lot of times that helps me a lot is to find a character to kind to base my character on or to draw strength from or direction. Sometimes it's a cartoon character. In the case of the governor, there is a lot of that same bluster and that kind of Southern accent, that Foghorn Leghorn and the Colonel." RLJE Films Prisoners of the Ghostland, which also stars Sofia Boutella and Nick Cassavetes, comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital on September 17th.