More Horror Exclusive: Interview with Captain Spaulding Himself, Sid Haig

Sid Haig ExclusiveInterviewed by Michael Juvinall, More

Most of today’s horror fans are very aware of Sid Haig and his role as the notorious Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005). But what many fans aren’t aware of is that Sid Haig’s career dates back to 1960 with over 60 film and over 350 television appearances. He’s been in the business for over 50 years and has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Lon Chaney Jr., Omar Sharif, Sean Connery, George Lucas, and Quentin Tarantino. Haig started making a name for himself while working with director Jack Hill in his exploitation films such as Spider Baby (1968), Pit Stop (1969), The Big Doll House (1971), and The Big Bird Cage (1972). He continued working in Hollywood in a variety of villainous roles including Diamonds are Forever (1971), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974), Savage Sisters (1974), Jackie Brown (1997), and Kill Bill vol. 2 (2004).

Along with his film appearances, Haig worked in some of the biggest television shows during the 1960’s through 90’s including Batman (1966), Star Trek (1967), Gunsmoke (1966), Mission Impossible (1966), The Six Milliion Dollar Man (1974), Fantasy Island (1978), The A-Team (1983), and MacGuyver (1985) among many, many others too numerous to mention.

Haig had pretty much retired from acting in 1992 because he was tiring of being typecast as the villain in almost every role. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino for casting Haig in Jackie Brown and then Rob Zombie for casting him in House of 1000 Corpses, Haig enjoyed career resurgence and has since appeared in 25 films. Sid Haig continues to work in film, most being horror films which has continued to endear him with the horror crowd. Haig is a man of many talents, he is extremely intelligent, he is a musician, and he is a crowd pleaser at the horror conventions he attends. Mr. Haig was nice enough to talk one-on-one with me about his career, his interests, and more, read on for the entire interview.

Michael Juvinall: Spider Baby is one of your earliest genre films that people began to know you for, did that film set the tone for the rest of your career?

Sid Haig: It really didn't set the tone for the rest of my career because I went directly the opposite way and was doing a lot of commercial television stuff but it set me on the path of wanting to continue. I had such a great experience with Spider Baby that I just had to keep going.

MJ: You continued to work with the director Jack Hill on several other projects, how was he to work for?

SH: Absolutely great, he's one of the director's that I always point to when I speak about someone I like working with. In the beginning, he didn't have a lot of acting chops himself; he basically relied on his actors to deliver what it was that he wanted to make his vision clear. He would just get out of the way and let us do our jobs. It worked well, and we had a long relationship.

MJ: What was it like working with Lon Chaney Jr. in Spider Baby?

SH: Lon Chaney Jr. was amazing! He was directly opposite of everything that you thought he would be or that you heard he was. There was a big part of his career where people were calling him an alcoholic and stuff, he had it put in his contract that he could not have a drink while he was working on this film, that's how badly he wanted to do it. He was just a great guy to talk with, very personable, he taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do in terms of the business itself. It was a great experience working with him.

MJ: In your career you've had a lot of different roles, average guy roles, heavy roles, what's the best part of playing the villain?

SH: Well, the best part about playing a "good" villain is that you can help to propel the story further. You keep it moving. The heavies in a film are like the drummers in a band, they set the tempo.

MJ: What do you think has been the highlight of your career so far out of your vast array of work?

SH: I would have to say doing House of 1000 Corpses because that really brought attention to me and what it is that I can do. My hats off to Rob (Zombie), it regenerated my career.

MJ: Has Captain Spaulding been one of your most popular roles with the fans?

SH: So far, yeah. People get interested in my other stuff. I was doing an introduction to a screening for Spider Baby at a convention and I asked the crowd how many people here have seen this film? About four people raised their hands and I asked what are the rest of you doing here? I was told they wanted to see the rest of my work, which was very cool for me, very rewarding.

MJ: You have such a huge filmography and television work; you've worked with some of the biggest names in the business. Has there been a few that have been your favorites that you've worked with so far?

SH: One of my favorites to work with has been Omar Sharif. We did a film called Che! where he played Che Guevara and he was really a super guy to hang out with. I worked with Sean Connery on Diamonds Are Forever, he's a funny guy, real easy to work with, very cool.

MJ: I remember watching Jason of Star Command on TV on Saturday mornings.

SH: You and Rob Zombie (laughing).

MJ: You were a cool villain for a cheap show.

SH: Actually, it was the most expensive live action, children's show on the air. It cost a little over $200,000 an episode.

MJ: Really, that's interesting. Is there a character or project that you would like to be remembered the most for?

SH: I'm drawn to stories that are heroic, in that there's a massive change in the characters personality. I did a film called Little Big Top where I started out in the film as a hopeless alcoholic and by the end of the film, the audience would get the idea that I'm really going to be ok, that was cool. I most recently did a film called High on the Hog where the story about the character itself is somebody that is a caring person in terms of not wanting to see injustice done to people even though he's on the edgy side of the law himself. He's fighting for his family and I like that.

MJ: You recently wrapped filming on The Lords of Salem, what's the best thing about being part of Rob Zombie's repertory troupe?

SH: That's tough to say except for the fact that he's a good guy to work with. He's got a great imagination; it's a great experience to do his shows. Sometimes things work out, sometimes things don't work out. When he did Halloween, the film was already completed and was being screened all around the country and after the fact, wrote that scene between Malcolm McDowall and myself and stuck that into the film.

MJ: Very nice. If you had a dream project, what would that be?

SH: My dream project would be to tell the story of the first genocide of the 20th Century which was the Armenian genocide. It's an amazing story, it's horrifying and it's something that people don't know about because the State department and the Turkish government have shoved it to the background and I think it needs to be out front, so I would love to do that project.

MJ: What is your passion outside of acting?

SH: I do a whole lot of stuff, I do bonsai work, I work with clay, I'm a certified hypnotherapist, and I like to stay busy.

MJ: We talked a little bit about Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem, what else do you have coming up?

SH: A film called High on the Hog, another film that's doing amazingly well on the film festival circuit called Mimesis, a film called The Infliction where I play a psychiatrist and not a crazy one; a guy who's genuine. It goes on and on, I've done ten films in the last year and a half.

MJ: I wanted to thank you for taking time out to talk with me. I wish you luck in the future. I'm a huge fan of yours.

SH: Thank you, thank you, it was great talking with you too.

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