Muse Watson was catapulted to the forefront on many a horror fan’s consciousness with his bone-chilling turn as butchering fisherman Ben Willis in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’. But “The Hook Man” has an awful lot of other credits to his name --- many of them in the horror world such as his work in ‘Dead Birds’, ‘Birds II’, ‘Hollywood Vampire’, ‘House of Grimm’, ‘Frankenfish’, as well as an unforgettable performance as rodeo clown/vampire C.W. Niles in ‘From Dusk Til Dawn II’. Some of his other numerous credits include Sundance Festival award-winner ‘Songcatcher’, ‘Rosewood’, ‘Assassins’, ‘Austin Powers II’, ‘Jane Doe’, ‘A Day Without a Mexican’, ‘American Gothic’, ‘If I Die Before I Wake’, and ‘Something to Talk About’. In the past he has guest starred on numerous TV series like ‘Matlock’, ‘Young Indiana Jones’, ‘JAG’, and ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’. Now his career is about to move to the next level. This summer the red-hot actor is filming the first 13 episodes of the highly anticipated new series on FOX, ‘Prison Break’ (Mondays at 9:00) in which he co-stars as inmate Charles Westmoreland. Recently Mr. Watson too a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for Racks and Razors.

Owen: First off, congratulations on 'Prison Break' your new FOX series.  Can you tell me something about the series and your role as Charles Westmoreland?

Muse: The pilot is the talk of Hollywood.  Most folks agree it is the best pilot to surface this season.  Grossly oversimplified, it is the story of a very intelligent young man who gets himself thrown into prison in order to break his bad boy brother out before he is executed.  His plan is ingenious.  My character, Charles Westmoreland, is thought to be DB Cooper, the man who jumped out of an airliner with a bag of money and was never found.  Money buried on the outside makes him very attractive to anyone breaking out.  The brothers are played by Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, a couple of great actors who are both great to work with and great to be around.   The pilot was directed by Brett Rattner and written by Paul Scheuring.  The series director is Michael Watkins, who is doing a phenomenal job.  I’m excited.

Owen: Now on to the horror stuff.  How did your being cast as Ben Willis in 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' (and the sequel) come about?

Muse: I read for the part after the production had already gotten underway with pre-production.... so I don't know if they had had a tough time finding Ben or whether they waited til the last minute because they didn't think there was much to the part.  But five minutes after I read, the casting director said she was going to Fed-x the tape to the director who was already in North Carolina.  I liked the challenge of the role as it was written in the original script.  The script described a guy who was devoted to his daughter.  She had been on a date and the boy she was with had gotten drunk and wrecked the car they were in, killing her.  The guy found the kid on his pity pot on the coast and whacked him.  Four drunk teens driving on the coast run over him on his way back to his truck and dump his body in the ocean to assure an uninterrupted college career.  Surviving the ocean, he returns to make the teens life “hell”.  Literally.  I was thrilled at the chance of playing this guy.  He was smart.  He was organized.  And he was a loving father in trouble.

When I got on location, a lot of the loving father part disappeared and what was left was a quick and cunning serial killer.  The hook he used was cumbersome and an unlikely tool of such a man.  The hat covering his face became another stretch of logic with the movement he accomplished.  All in all, I loved working with Love Hewitt and Michelle Gellar a couple of professional actors who were a pleasure to talk to and be around.

After the film opened breaking all records for an October opening, I went back to work on my next projects.  I was in South Africa shooting Dusk til Dawn II when I got word that they wanted to do a sequel.  I knew Love had signed on for two, but they hadn’t thought it was important to get me signed for two.  We negotiated another and I was excited to see the gang again. 

When I met the new director, who could have felt like he was inheriting a circus animal, I felt great that the first words out of his mouth were that he really liked the movement that I had given the character.  I felt like he “got” my performance.  Then I got to read the script.  They had new writers and had decided to give some background information on Ben’s character.  I didn’t know who they were talking about.  They decided he had been kuckold?  Are you kidding me?  For one thing, the info was unnecessary and for another, it didn’t fit the Ben who had borrowed my body for 4 months.

Owen: What did you use as your motivation for Ben Willis?  Did you have any special tricks for getting into character?

Muse: After finding the character in me, by studying the script and asking him to take over my body.... I didn't have much trouble conjuring him as needed.  Now that I have a daughter of my own, I realize that the producers saw Ben in me.  I thought I was acting.  LOL.  I realize now, that Ben’s feelings are close to what mine might be under the circumstances.

Owen: Did you have any inkling the movie would prove so successful?

Muse: Not a clue.  I didn't go to the premier.  I was at my hideout in the foothills of the Smokie Mountains and my publicist called and said that there must be something wrong with the film because they were not allowing the press to pre-screen it.  He said that I didn't have to go to the premier if I preferred staying in the mountains.  On Monday morning I was working on the place with my caretaker and I got a call from one of my buddies in Hollywood.  He said...." You got the number one movie in the nation"...I hung up the phone in my shop and walked outside and said to my caretaker, "I got the number one movie in the nation".  He spit a big shot of his chew and said, "Yeah, we got to move the tractor".

Owen: Did its success usher in a myriad of horror offers?  If so were you careful not to get typecast?

Muse: There is still a myriad of horror offers coming...but I am not as concerned with being typecast as I am concerned with being in a bunch of bad movies.  ...And then if I need to put a new roof on the barn, I'll do about anything.  If you see my reel, the characters in my body of work or so different that most folks don't recognize me from one to the other.  I came to town to be an actor.  Unfortunately that may not have been smart.  When the public doesn't recognize you from part to part, then the producers don't feel they need to pay you very much.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Joey Buttafuco was cast in Hamlet.  The whores in Hollywood wear expensive suits.

Owen: In 'From Dusk Til Dawn II' you play C.W., a rodeo clown who turns into a vampire.  What is your predominant memory of filming that movie?

Muse: How beautiful Capetown South Africa is...and how much fun it was to hang out with Robert Patrick and Bo Hopkins and the rest of the cast.  Robert and I are still close friends.  The other special thing about that film to me is the fact that if I weren’t an actor, one of the things I always wanted to be was a rodeo clown.  LOL

Owen: You also starred in 'The Birds 2'.  What do you think was the main problem of trying to follow up the Hitchcock classic?

Muse: Oh, Jeezzzz.  You know what an Alan Smithy film is?  That's
the name a director puts on a film when he doesn't want his name in the credits.  Birds II is an Alan Smithy film.  My name was mistakenly left out of the credits.  They had to pay me a bunch of money for that and I don't have to have my name in the credits either.  I don't know what the Hitchcock problem was but the movie sucked.

Owen: Somewhat going along with that, tell me about your work in 'Dead Birds'.

Muse: Dead Birds was one of the scariest scripts I ever read.  I think it may have been too deep for the critics.  I am surprised it didn’t get a bigger response.  I was glad I did it.  There again, if you watch my lord of the plantation character in Dead Birds next to the ole Cajun character I played in Frankenfish you wouldn’t believe it is the same actor.

Owen: You gotta love a good creature movie.  Any good tales from the set of the enjoyable mutant flesh-eating fish flick 'Frankenfish'?

Muse: about third degree burns.  LOL When I was filming in the water it was cold.  Real cold.  So the effects guys set me up with a portable hot water heater.  I would swim over to the stunt barge in between takes and a P.A. would stick this hose down my wet suit and warm me up.  After one take I swam over and crawled up on the barge and the P.A. stuck the hose down the back of my wet suit and hit the switch.  He hadn't put the intake hose into the water, so red-hot steam shot down my back.  I couldn't get the hose out because my wet suit was so tight.  I squirmed and fought and got burned really bad.  They put me on a speedboat and took me to the dock, transferred me to a van and rushed me to a country hospital.  After the nurse finally understood what I was doing when I got hurt she said, "So, this was work related".  I said yep.  She said well this producer and this driver have to leave the room and you have to pee into this cup for a drug's the law in work related accidents.  I said, "Lady, that ain't possible."  She looked at me like she was gonna call the cops, when I went on to explain that under those wet clothes I was wearing a wet suit that zipped up the back.... and that if everyone left the room I wouldn't be able to pee....cause I needed help getting out of my clothes.

Owen: I've heard your latest film 'House of Grimm' is also a thriller.  What drew you to take on that project?

Muse: The barn needed a roof.

Owen: I have also read that you are dyslexic.  Do you have any special tricks then that help you to memorize your dialogue?

Muse: Yeah, I go to sleep with my lines playing on a tape machine that has a repeat function.  I wake up totally off book.  And when people send me scripts, my wife reads them and tells me whether I want to do them or not.  LOL

Owen: What scares you in real life?

Muse: I’m sixteen years sober after looking the devil right square in the face and have had brain surgery, heart and lung surgery and back surgery, .. My philosophy is that life is about facing your fears. If you want to scare somebody?   You may wanta try somebody else.

Owen: So what are you doing this summer?

Muse: Besides being in Chicago filming ‘Prison Break’ I will probably be spending some time filming a new series my nephew Jon Morris and his pal Scott Nankivel have written about a couple of goofs who come to L.A. and end up working as caterers and living with an ole actor.  (Me)  These young guys have filmed a short to market the project and are getting a lot of interest from several cable networks. 

Any time not spent making a living will be spent with my little girl.  We’ll probably be at the beach in Malibu, the L.A. Zoo, Universal Theme Park and Disneyland.  We have annual passes to all of them and my wife and I would rather spend time with her than do anything else.  She’s my life now.

visit .....and watch Muse this fall Monday nights at 9pm in "Prison Break" on FOX.