Courtney recently took some time to
talk with us about his role as Malachai in the 1980's horror classic
Children of the Corn, making love to Divine in Lust in the Dust,
working with Crispin Glover in drag in The Orkly Kid, hanging in The
Burbs with Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher, his part in the upcoming Rob
Zombie remake of Halloween, and life as a hard working actor.
How did you get the role of Malachai in Children of the Corn?
I had to audition. Linda Francis who was the casting director was
somebody who took a liking to me before I got any breaks. She
championed me to give me opportunities. She was the one who called me
in for that role. The rest is history.
You originally wanted to be an actor?
Iíd been pursuing it. I had been in a professional workshop. Iím
actually out here from LA so I had been in a professional workshop
since I was 13.
Do you feel that the movie stayed true to the short story?
I read the short story once I got the role. No, I think theyíre
fairly different. Malachai was a very small character in the short
Was the parent killing scene tough to film?
You know youíre in character and youíre just doing your thing. It
doesnít really occur that way. For me I had been studying for years
and waiting for my chance to show what I could do. I was all business
just like my character was all business. I had no idea it would go on
to be such a big movie. I certainly felt I needed to prove to myself
and everyone else that I belonged. That was the mission.
Do you still play pinball? Where there other videogames you played
at the time.
Itís funny you see me in You Canít Buy Me Love I play that
motorcycle game. Iíve never been a big videogame kind of guy. A
little bit here and there. Not like people I know who have their game
boxes and all that stuff. Itís not my thing.
Did you have a stunt double for your fight scenes?
No, that scene between Peter Horton and I was all choreographed.
We did it all ourselves. The guy did a really good job with that.
What they didnít do which I learned later because I didnít know
better, they didnít dig up the ground a little bit for us. Usually
when stunt guys have falls theyíll dig up the ground a little bit
just to give it a little cush.
That ground was real hard and cold. We were shooting at 2 oíclock
in the morning and it was chilly. I definitely got banged up a little
bit. I felt myself banged up the next day. When youíre doing it
youíre all geeked up. You donít notice. I learned my lesson. Letís
dig up this ground a little bit. You learn a lot of the tricks to
make things easier.
Where was the movie filmed?
Sioux City, Iowa. That was so we could find the best corn. Youíd
think Nebraska, but for some reason Iowa was a little better. Itís
right on the border of Nebraska anyway. Itís a real small town.
Did you talk much with Linda Hamilton at the time?
Sure, she was very nice then and Iíve certainly seen her since.
Sheís just a very nice person. Sheís very down to earth with it all.
What about the other kids or the guy who played Isaac?
John Franklin and I remained friends over the years. I havenít
talked to him recently, but I can kind of update you. The last couple
of years heís stopped pursuing his acting career and started teaching
English in school out here in LA. Itís gone well and heís having a
good time doing it.
Sometimes people change gears.
It was time for him. He needed to get a steady. Just get something
that he was doing that he was happy with. Itís been good for him.
Are you disappointed that Isaac came back, but you didnít?
Well, yes and no in that John Franklin and his cousin wrote that
script. They generated that idea. Hats off to him for getting a movie
green lighted. Iíve thought about the idea, Iíve never really pursued
it. I actually am doing a bit of producing now. Last year I
co-executive produced a movie called National Lampoonís Dorm Daze
that MGM put out and just recently I did two films and a short of a
film called The Phobic which is a thriller that Iím in and a
rock and roll road comedy called Benny Bliss and the Disciples of
Greatness which weíre working on the distribution on all of those
right now so I am down there on the producing side. I have considered
it. Theyíre strongly talking about re-franchising Children of the
Corn right now because prequels are really hot. I donít know how
theyíll do a prequel.
be doing Children of the Corn the original again. Theyíll
re-bring it back with a new Malachai and all that. If Iím going to do
it, I think theyíve done 7 or 8 now, it would have to be very soon
because I think theyíre going to re-franchise the whole Children
of the Corn series.
I bet you had no idea that a movie like that from a short story
would breed 6 or 7 movies.
Back then the whole concept of sequels was not done. Certainly no
one knew in terms of horror you could do so many. Theyíve done 10
Halloweens or whatever. It was a new frontier. Teen cinema in the
1980ís was a fairly new frontier. Thatís what I ended up being a part
of without knowing it. Doing a horror movie and also movies like
Canít Buy Me Love which was sort of like the first 16 candles
teen sort of thing. I did all the genres of teen cinema. I didnít
realize we were forging that whole frontier.
People always mention Secret Admirer and Hard Bodies.
Hard Bodies is that whole T&A, Porkies, those kinds
of films. Whole genres were being invented in the 1980ís for
I noticed with Hard Bodies there was a musical aspect to
that movie too.
There was a girl band called Vixens. They were fine. There was a
lot of music driven in that movie. There was another band too. I
canít remember the guysí names. There were two or three bands that
performed in that movie.
I saw Children of the Corn with Sleepaway Camp as a
double feature way back in the 1980ís.
Oh my God. The funny thing is that twenty years later everything
is cool again. So the 1980ís right now are cool again. Itís not just
people from my age range who saw it in the theaters, but actually a
lot of 20 somethings are all over it again because they love 80ís
movies. To them itís like the 1960ís were for us. Itís really
They say, "They donít make movies like that anymore." And youíre
like, "Wow". You just donít think itís going to be like that. Thatís
how it is. This is my 20 year cool period so Iíll enjoy it for the
next few years. Iíve been doing some convention stuff so Iíve been
out there now seeing who the fans are. Itís people from my age range
all the way to people in their 20ís.
Movies on cable never die.
Thatís true too.
I think Children of the Corn was on a week or two again.
digging deep. That was the first film I ever did. It was a short for
American Film Institute. First of all I think Crispin is fantastic.
So I go in to do the rehearsal and Iíve never done anything before.
Iím some long haired kid smoking out in the boysí room kind of deal.
They say letís cut to rehearsal. Crispin comes out dressed as Olivia
Newton John. He does this whole Crispin thing of, "Hey guys how are
you doing? Whatís going on?" He does that whole thing that he does
and Iím thinking this guy.
First Iím like, "What the fuck is this?" I didnít know what the
story was. Then Iím thinking this guy is interesting. So we did that
scene. He still says that to him it was one of the most favorite
things heís ever done. Itís some of the best work heís ever done. I
recently got a copy of it. I havenít seen it yet, but he was always,
"You have to get a copy. Theyíre all over the internet." I did a
little with him in Back to the Future as well and that was a
year after we did The Orkly Kid. Again, he was very gracious.
He remembered me. Heís a great guy. Heís a very interesting,
What was it like making love to Divine in Lust in the Dust?
That was totally interesting too. I had never seen anything like
that. I was a young, naive kid. I was certainly a little nervous
about the whole thing, but he made it very easy and comfortable. He
was actually a great guy. He was starting to break into his own when
he passed away. He was doing a crossover thing. He was HUGE in
Europe. America was just sort of discovering him as he passed. It was
a great experience. I got to shoot a movie in Santa Fe, New Mexico
and all these veteran actors. I was the young kid. I was absorbing
everybodyís talent. People like Geoffrey Lewis. It was a very, very
Watching that movie again I realized the set must have been crazy.
I think that movie is very funny. It depends on your kind of
taste, but I think itís a pretty funny feature. Iím definitely proud
to be a part of it. That was one of my favorite films. I went from
Children of the Corn to Hard Bodies to that.
It also had Cesar Romero and Tab Hunter.
Yeah, I met Cesar Romero. My God at one point that guy was a huge
star. To watch someone who had done as many movies as he had. Tab
Hunter also was a huge star at one point. You have to think veteran
actors. I was in awe.
You did a pretty big budget movie called The Burbs with Tom
That was during the writerís strike. A lot of people donít
remember that. It was dead in LA. We were on the Universal lot. There
was us and Fletch 2. That was it. It was like working in a
ghost town. We were working nights too so it was even more like a
ghost town. We had the whole lot to ourselves. It was
It was all filmed on a set.
It was the same cul de sac where they shot Leave it to Beaver.
Tons of movies have been shot on that cul de sac.
Was Corey Feldman partying like crazy at the time?
Thatís what they say. I wasnít with him.
When you play Malachai in Children of the Corn youíre
menacing and creepy with The Burbs youíre more reserved.
Joe Dante was great in terms of what he wanted. He really helped
to create that character quite a bit, everything from knowing what
kind of haircut to the kind of clothes to the teeth. He kept laughing
and saying youíre never going to work again. He was just going to
make me look so hideous. He was very cool. He helped shape what I was
going to do.
Again, the chance to work with a ton of veteran actors, people
like Bruce Dern took me under his wing and gave me a lot of great
advice career wise. He encouraged my work. Tom Hanks is a super nice
guy. He is how he seems. He is a very genuine man.
Was Carrie Fisher smoking nonstop?
I donít remember her smoking. Sheís got a very strong personality
in terms of knowing what she wants. With Joe Dante his hair was kind
of long and he kept wearing the same shirt with this Felix the Cat
tie. She couldnít take it so she took him shopping. When he came back
he had a haircut and a new shirt on. I was like, "Wow, how does she
Sheís Princess Leia. She can do anything.
Yeah, sheís definitely a sparkplug. Sheís a little fireplug for
You have a small role in the movie Colors too.
It is, but it has an impact. There were three main gangs: The
Bloods, The Crips, and then the other fictitious gang which is the 21st
street gang. That one was kind of mixed. I was the only white gang
banger in the movie. I was very excited to be a part of that because
having grown up in LA I know there are white guys in the gangs. At
that time nobody knew anything about what was going on out here. When
they would make movies before that they totally had it all wrong. The
way they dressed. Everything was very in-authentic.
Dennis Hopper going on to make a real movie about the gangs I was
like I got to be a part of this. I knew they were looking for a white
guy and of course they were going to have a hard time finding him. My
acting mentor Virgil Frye, he helped Dennis make Easy Rider so
I had an "in" to that whole thing. I just went into that meeting and
said, "I grew up in the neighborhood. I know the deal." He was like,
"Cool. Give it your all." It wasnít a huge role, but it stood out
because like I said Iím the only white gang banger in the movie. That
gang had a big storyline so we were in the movie a lot, our unit of
That movie caused a lot of controversy when it came out.
That movie was huge. It essentially broke East Coast Rap. Gary
Goetzman who runs Tom Hanks company Playtone was the music supervisor
on Colors. People like Ice-T broke off of that movie. It had a
huge impact on a lot of levels. It was the first real movie about
gangs. Nowadays they hire real gangster to play gangsters. Back then
people werenít even thinking like that.
What about Pat Morita in King Cobra?
I didnít have any scenes with him. My character was the scientist
who caused all the problems to create the snake. I had a scene with
the guy who was the doctor and Iím in the opening sequence of the
movie. Unfortunately, I didnít get to meet Pat.
I was watching a funny clip that looked like a guy in a snake
It was animatronics. It wasnít CGI. It was right before CGI. It
was a pretty low budget project.
Tell us about your role in Rob Zombieís remake of Halloween.
I did a cameo. There are a lot of people not happy about the idea
of a remake of Halloween because itís considered THE
quintessential horror film. Rob Zombie is taking it on and what heís
done is a prequel/sequel because prequels are hot right now. The
first half of the movie is Myers as a kid and how he gets to the
institute. The second half is basically Halloween from that
point on, from when he gets out. My scene is right in the middle.
Myself and Lew Temple who was in The Devils Rejects, we are
attendants who bring a girl into Myers room and kind of provoke him.
That starts him on his terror and escape and all of that.
Thereís a ton of cameos in the movie that are all recognizable
horror people. When I heard the movie was going to be made I
definitely wanted to be a part of that and pursued it. Rob found a
spot for me. It was a great cast period, but every small role is
somebody that if youíre a horror fan you will know them from another
Especially if you love 1980ís horror.
I was glad Rob was willing to include me in the process. We did
our two days and it was pretty intense scenes. Everybody thought it
was pretty disturbing so I guess thatís good and the movie is coming
out the end of August, Labor Day weekend. Itís going to be a big
release. Iím excited to be part of it and it was great to meet and
work with Rob.
Have you seen The Devils Rejects and
House of 1000 Corpses?
I have not seen House of 1000 Corpses,
but I have seen The Devils Rejects. What I think is
interesting is that heís making horror films for adults. I mean
generally speaking horror films are geared for a teen audience. Heís
making horror films for people 30 and over. Not that teenagers canít
watch it, but theyíre more adult in their content and the characters
are not always teenagers. The Devilís Rejects that was not
young people which I think makes it more gritty, interesting, and a
little more mature. Itís maturing horror if you will.
Do you like the horror genre?
Iím not a huge horror fan. No, Iím not real big into blood and
guts, but something like Halloween thatís significant to do a
remake of that movie. Itís a big deal.
People have reservations about remakes. There have been so many
bad ones. I think of Amityville Horror which I loved as a kid.
I thought they didnít do a very good job with the remake.
I think somebody like Rob putting his name on it has a lot of
pressure to deliver something very, very good. Whether thatís going
to happen or not I canít say. Iím saying thereís more at stake than
just some company making a remake of Amityville Horror. Heís
such a brand himself. Thereís a lot on the line for him. I know heís
doing certainly the best he can. Their last day of shooting is today
so theyíre almost done. We saw a trailer and that looked pretty good.
I read Dee Wallace is even in it.
There are tons and tons of cameos. Thereís like 60 characters in
the movie and every one of them youíll know who they are if youíre
into the genre.
What about the movie Discipline?
You saw a trailer for that?
It was on YouTube.
Thatís an interesting story. This filmmaker named Martin Mayo,
years ago we started to make this movie and heís still finishing it.
Itís like 15 years in the making or something. Heís almost done I
Heís putting a lot of time and effort into it.
You have no idea what this guy has been through. Itís been a long,
crazy journey for him to get this film done. Hopefully, heíll finally
get it out. Itís a movie that delves into S&M and all of that. It was
a long time ago for me.
I saw you spinning around on something and a woman was whipping
If the movie comes out and does well it could be an embarrassment.
Who knows? It could be something I canít live down. For his sake all
the years heís tried to get this done I hope he gets it done so he
can kind of move on. Thatís a lot of years of your life to try to get
a movie out there.
You must know the secret to being a working actor.
I feel fortunate that Iím still in the business working 20 years
later. Thatís really the deal. You have to keep reinventing yourself.
You have to look in the mirror and go, "What can I do now? Whereís
the industry now?" Hopefully, I have enough chops that I can do a
wide variety of things. I think thatís probably been the key.
Being able to look at yourself and figure out what you want to
do and where you want to go with things.
and being able to execute that when other people think you can. In
the 1990ís I played a lot of bad guys. Mainly like guest stars on TV
and a lot of movies going straight to DVD. I had long hair and a
goatee. There were teenage movies and you had to be 30. I had done
the teenage movie thing so I had to look older. I did that.
I had cut off my hair and itís time to do other stuff and I want
to get into theatrical performance. My agents where like, "What are
you talking about? You do bad guys." I was like, "Man, go back to my
80ís films. I can do comedy." Basically, standing for that and I
stopped going up for bad guys. After awhile I finally got a break and
did Sweet Home Alabama playing the sheriff in that. That
opened up a whole nother door.
The 2000ís Iíve done a variety of things. Comedy has been back on
my slate. Iím playing guys with ties for a change. Iím not a teenager
anymore. You have to figure out, "What can I do now? What kinds of
roles are available now?" Sweet Home Alabama was a huge film a
couple of years ago. Whatever you did last is what they remember for
the most part. Something like Children of the Corn is the
exception. As long as thereís horror theyíll be Children of the
Corn to be talked about.
Those fans are intense.
The horror fan base is very strong which is why thereís so many
horror films being made and why the studios are now investing in
horror films. Theyíre trying to remake and prequel every decent
horror film thatís ever been made.
I wonder what brought it on?
Thatís a good question. I donít know what exactly caused it
either. I think the fact that there are all these conventions and the
fact that people show up to those. They started to realize thereís a
core fan base they could rely on.
Whatís the craziest fan that youíve had? You ever have a woman
want you to sign their breasts?
Oh sure. Iíve had that happen. I recently put a
page together because somebody posed being me and the fans found
out and they got mad. They asked me if I wanted to take it over. Now
Iím reaching out to people. Iíve got a little of a stalker person
going on right now. A stalker girl, stuff like that so thatís a
That must be hard if you have a family.
Thatís why you have to make sure people donít know where you live.
I think thatís part of the problem with the genre of horror is you
occasionally get strange fans.
For the women in horror I think itís very intense because if
youíre a horror scream queen youíre not going to be a billionaire or
even a millionaire most likely. Youíre going to be somebody whoís
known, but youíre not going to be rich enough to have a house in Bel
Air with a giant gate. So, if you get a stalker and youíre going to
get somebody who is obviously a little twisted they can find you.
Itís not that safe. I know someone who has had some very close calls.
That would almost make a good movie.
Iíve actually thought of that.
Itís such a creepy subject.
It is a creepy subject, but perhaps one of these girls wants to
come out with their true story and play it. It would be based on what
they went through. Itís something Iíve thought about. I havenít
really approached anybody with it. I do think itís kind of an
interesting story. Thatís the sick thing about being in the business.
Somebodyís true life tragedy youíre like, "Oh, that would make a good
What about growing up who did you have a retroCRUSH on?
You remember that movie called Scandal with
Joanne Whalley. You know who Joanne Whalley is? An English
actress? Youíd know her if you saw her.
Iím probably too gay to know who she is.
She was married to Val Kilmer for a minute after they did
Willow. She was HOT in that movie. That movie was directed by
Michael Caton-Jones who eventually directed me in Memphis Belle.
Iíd say when I was younger she was my retroCRUSH.
She was very hot in that movie. She plays a very sexy character in
the movie anyway. Itís based on a true story, she gets in a
relationship with a very powerful official in England and it all
comes out in the press. It was the first kind of thing to come out in
the press like that. It was in the 1950ís. She plays a very hot
character. She was steaming in that movie.
Are there other movies that stick out during your career?
I think you talked a little about the stuff thatís coming out.
Hopefully, people will keep an eye out for that. Weíll be putting out
Benny Bliss and the Disciples of Greatness. Weíve actually
cut a deal where weíre going to include the CD and DVD in one package
which will be kind of cool. I wrote about three or four of the songs.
I front the band. The music is all live in the movie which is sort of
You have your whole singing career too?
Sort of kind ofÖthatís whatís great about this movie. I have a CD
I put out in the past. These are all pro musicians and Iím a
character, but I front a band. Itís a bit of a platform where I get
to rant about weíre way too addicted to our technology.