James Jude Courtney

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James Jude Courtney
James Jude Herbkersman[1]

(1957-01-31) January 31, 1957 (age 62)
Portland, Ohio, U.S.
ResidenceColumbia, South Carolina, U.S.[2]
Alma materUniversity of South Carolina[3][4]
OccupationActor, Stunt double, Stunt performer
Years active1987–present
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[3]

James Jude Courtney (née Herbkersman;[1] born January 31, 1957) is an American actor, stunt double, and stunt performer. He is best known for playing Michael Myers in the 2018 film Halloween. He also played Der Kindestod in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Killed by Death".

Life and career[edit]

Courtney, born James Jude Herbkersman in Portland, Ohio, was raised in Columbia, South Carolina as the eldest of seven brothers.[5] Ever since fourth grade, Courtney was determined on becoming an actor, making short films from fifth grade through college. He went on to major in journalism at the University of South Carolina in 1981 and subsequently moved to California to pursue his career as an actor.[4] There, he started working at Universal Studios Hollywood as a tour guide before he was cast as Conan in the Conan the Barbarian live show. Courtney applied his martial arts skills to the highly physical role which demanded high falls and sword fights and resulted in multiple injuries during performances.[6] At Universal Studios, Courtney met actor Brian Thompson and stunt coordinator Alex Daniels who led him to branch out as a stunt performer.[3] He continued his acting studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was coached by renowned acting teacher Stella Adler.[3][7]

He made his acting debut in the 1989 film The Freeway Maniac and continued acting through 2002. In 1997, he gained wider recognition with his role as Der Kindestod in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Killed by Death".[8][9][10][11]

Courtney played Michael Myers in David Gordon Green's horror film Halloween, a sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 film of the same name, in which original Myers actor Nick Castle reprises his role.[3][12][13] Courtney was suggested to producer Malek Akkad and director David Gordon Green by stunt coordinator Rawn Hutchinson for his ability to do both physical stunts and genuine acting, auditioning afterwards and receiving a phone call in December 2017 affirming that he had landed the role.[14] Green explained to him his vision for Myers' mannerisms, an amalgamation of Castle's original performance and the addition of an efficient cat-esque style of movement. Courtney tailored his portrayal to those specifications from observing an actual cat, "I think cats are the most perfect hunting machines on the planet. And the beauty of it is we don't judge a cat for what a cat does. So I sort of carried that movement and the non-judgmental approach to the way I moved as The Shape, which I learned from my cat Parcival." He referred to collaborating with Castle as an "honor", while Castle described it as a "passing of the torch". Courtney used John Carpenter and Castle's work on the original film to determine how the forty years that transpired between the events of the films would inform the character over time.[6][15][16][17] The December 2017 announcement of Nick Castle's participation was widely reported as his retaking the role of Michael Myers he originated,[18] with James Jude Courtney only doing additional work as the character. However, a 2018 interview with Courtney revealed that Castle's screentime was minimal and that the great majority of the work under the mask was done by Courtney himself, which led to the question of whether the return of original Myers portrayer Nick Castle had been misrepresented by the production.[19]

In January 2019, Courtney was nominated for Best Actor at the 2019 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, alongside acting partner Nick Castle, for his work in the 2018 film Halloween.[20][21]


Title Year TV or Film Role Notes
Tour of Duty 1987–1990 TV stunts
The Freeway Maniac 1989 Arthur Credited as James Courtney
Knots Landing 1989 TV Peter Christopher / R. Peter Christopher 3 episodes
We're Talking Serious Money 1991 Film Biker #2
Far and Away 1992 Film Boxer
Unsolved Mysteries 1992 TV Peter Byrne 1 episode
The Hit List 1993 Film Final Hitman
Danger Theatre 1993 TV Man in Bar 1 episode
Philadelphia Experiment II 1993 Film Vortex Technician
Firearm (Video short) 1993 Alec Swan a.k.a. Firearm
...And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him 1994 Carpenter
When a Man Loves a Woman 1994 Film Earl
Last Detour 1994
Girl in the Cadillac 1995 Film stunts
Access Denied 1996 Bill Robinson
Babylon 5 1994–1996 TV Narn #1 / Gyor 2 episodes + stunts
Executive Power (Video) 1997 Thug
The Killing Grounds (Video) 1997 Craig
The Nurse 1997 Mr. Roberts stunt coordinator
Devil in the Flesh 1997 TV Movie Mr. Roberts
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1998 TV Der Kindestod 1 episode, stunts
Shelter 1998 stunts
Soccer Dog: The Movie 1999 Mafia Goon
Level 9 2000–2001 TV stunts, stunt driver
The Gray in Between 2002 Huge Goon
Halloween 2018 Film Michael Myers / The Shape

In popular culture[edit]

Honoring his portrayal of Michael Myers, October 19, the film's United States opening day, was officially proclaimed James Jude Courtney Day in Warren County, Kentucky from Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon.[22]


  1. ^ a b "James Jude Herbkersman". MooseRoots. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Swietek, Wes (October 4, 2018). "'Halloween' homecoming: New Michael Myers will be here on film's opening weekend". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Arzt, Matt. "[Interview] Meet James Jude Courtney, Your New Michael Myers in 'Halloween' 2018". Halloween Daily News. Archived from the original on March 28, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Ablon, Matthew (November 1, 2018). "USC alum is the man behind the Michael Myers mask". Fox Carolina. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Friedman, Rebekah (November 6, 2018). "A killer career". SC.edu. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Squires, John (June 8, 2018). "[Set Visit] 'Halloween' Star James Jude Courtney on Why You Should Be Terrified of His Michael Myers". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Abrams, Simon (October 11, 2018). "Michael Myers, Unmasked". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  8. ^ Tracy, Kathleen (2014). The Girl's Got Bite: The Original Unauthorized Guide to Buffy's World – 30. "Killed by Death". St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-31298-886-9.
  9. ^ Jones, Steven (2000). The Essential Monster Movie Guide: A Century of Creature Features on Film, TV, and Video. Billboard Books. p. 67. ISBN 978-0823079360.
  10. ^ Clarke, F. S. (2000). Cinefantastique, Vol 31-32. p. 31.
  11. ^ Leighton, Susan (April 23, 2019). "James Jude Courtney will haunt Monster-Mania Con this October!". FanSided. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  12. ^ Dressler, Jacob. "Original Shape Actor Playing Michael Myers In Upcoming Halloween Movie". ScreenGeek.net. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  13. ^ Keene, Allison (December 20, 2017). "The 'Halloween' Reboot Will Bring Back the Original Michael Myers Actor". Collider. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  14. ^ de Koff, Derek. "The actor who plays Michael Myers in Halloween is gorgeous in real life". Nicki Swift. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  15. ^ Evanson, Landon (September 24, 2018). "Big Game James: A 'Halloween' Interview With James Jude Courtney". Horror Geek Life. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  16. ^ DiLauro, Rob (November 6, 2018). "Exclusive Interview: James Jude Courtney Talks Halloween And Playing Michael Myers". We Got This Covered. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  17. ^ Golianopoulos, Thomas (October 22, 2018). "Michael Myers Is a Terrifying Acting Challenge, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  18. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (December 20, 2017). "Original Michael Myers Actor to Return to 'Halloween' Franchise". TheWrap. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  19. ^ Millican, Joshua (March 28, 2018). "Nick Castle is NOT Michael Myers in Blumhouse's "Halloween"? Cameo Only". Horror Freak News. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  20. ^ Orange, B. Alan (January 22, 2019). "Fangoria Resurrects the Chainsaw Awards Celebrating the Horror Movies Oscar Missed". MovieWeb. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Rife, Katie (January 22, 2019). "Screw the Oscars, let's see who got nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw Award". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Medina, Ana (October 19, 2018). "Michael Myers actor speaks on preparing for Halloween role". WBKO. Retrieved February 3, 2019.

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