Whether someone's a glutton for horror movies or are bullied into watching them by their friends, they might feel better knowing that even the freakiest movie monsters are played by real (human) actors. As convincing as some ghosts or vampires might seem on screen, IRL they're just actors in costumes trying to make a living.



Now, this probably isn't going to change the way people watch horror movies, but maybe it'll soften the blow. Once we get a glimpse behind the curtain, so to speak, the surface-level scariness may not feel quite as intense. Or maybe that won't be the case at all, and we'll remain living in fear for the rest of our lives. Who's to say?



15 Bonnie Aarons As Valak: The Conjuring 2/The Nun
If you thought that the Nun (don't say her name, or else she'll disappear forever) was the best part of The Conjuring 2, you're not alone. Even though she plays a supporting role and shows up on screen in only a handful of scenes, she certainly made an impression. So much so that she's getting her own spinoff movie this summer (aptly titled The Nun). However, when you take a look behind the makeup, you'll see actress Bonnie Aarons (aka the Baroness from The Princess Diaries who everybody hates).
Aarons has been acting for years, and though she's not actually a demonic nun, she's definitely no stranger to the horror genre — or at least horrific characters. She famously terrified audiences as the Nightmare Bum in Mulholland Drive. Feel free to watch her scene; just keep in mind that you've been warned.
14 Nick Castle As Michael Myers: Halloween
The original Halloween from John Carpenter was made on a shoestring budget in California in the late 1970s. Everyone from the crew to the actors were essentially noobs to the industry (save for Dr. Sam Loomis' Donald Pleasance, who brought some necessary star power to the film), and the budget was tighter than a clinch knot. Still, the filmmakers were able to create one of the most recognizable and horrifying on-screen terrors ever imagined: Michael Myers. And though the actors who played him have changed over the years (and even though there were several actors depicting him in the original movie), Nick Castle is the true man behind the mask.
Tony Moran played him when the mask was off and Will Sandin played him as a child version, but Castle was the true Myers.
In fact, even though James Jude Courtney will be playing Myers for the bulk of the film in the upcoming Halloween sequel, Castle is returning for a few cameo shots in the mask and suit he made famous back in 1978.


13 Kane Hodder As Jason Voorhees: Friday The 13th
Speaking of classic on-screen hitmen, Jason Voorhees stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Michael Myers as a bona fide horror movie monster. And just like Myers, several actors have portrayed the hockey mask-wearing character. That said, there is one actor who unofficially takes the glory as everyone's favorite Jason: Kane Hodder. Though the movies he stars in may not be everyone's favorite (see: Jason Takes Manhattan, A New Blood, Jason Goes to Hell, etc.), he still ranks the highest.
In fact, not only has Hodder played Jason more than any other actor (even going toe-to-toe with Freddy Krueger in Freddy vs. Jason), he was used for motion capture in the creation of Friday the 13th: The Game.
So, if you ever find yourself playing the game (and you really should, if you haven't already), every Jason in the game is none other than Hodder himself.
12 Quinn Lord As Sam: Trick 'R Treat
Trick 'r Treat has become a cult classic for hardcore fans of the Halloween season. By extension, the character Sam (who is basically the patron saint of Halloween in the movie) has become equally revered. He patrols the streets on All Hallow's Eve, willing to spread blood if anybody breaks with Halloween tradition (i.e. doesn't hand out candy, blows out a Jack-o-Lantern before the night is through, etc.), and even though his tactics may be gross, he's kind of adorable.
IRL, Sam is just a regular kid. Quinn Lord was only 7 years old when he starred in the movie — though it's fair to say that filmmakers made sure to avoid using a lot of gore whenever he was on set, given his age and all. At least, one would hope so.


11 Kevin Peter Hall As The Predator: Predator
When Schwarzenegger fought against the body heat-tracking, invisible-turning machine known only as the Predator, going into the woods became that much scarier. (So, thanks for that.) Only, he wasn't being hunted by some animatronic monster; he was being hunted by an actual guy in a suit.
He was being hunted by actor Kevin Peter Hall.
Hall starred as the extraterrestrial warrior in the original 1987 movie, then again in the sequel three years later. He had also starred as Harry in Harry and the Hendersons, as well as various other characters, but it was the Predator for which he is most remembered.
Sadly, though, he was recast in later sequels (including the upcoming film The Predator) after passing away due to AIDS in 1991. He left behind a wife and two children.
10 Ben Chapman As The Creature: Creature From The Black Lagoon
When "creature feature" filmmaker Guillermo del Toro sat down to write this year's Best Picture winner at the Oscars—The Shape of Water—he was inspired by his favorite movie as a child: The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Though the plots are drastically different, both include an amphibious man creature who falls in love with a human woman. And though del Toro's movie has the advantage of a significantly bigger budget, both amphibious creatures were essentially made up of men in fish suits.
In The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Gill Man was played by actor Ben Chapman. And even though he's not officially credited in the movie, Chapman is best known for this role — despite the fact that he left show business less than a decade after the movie was filmed.
9 Roger Jackson As Ghostface: Scream
Okay, so this entry isn't quite as conventional as the others, mainly because the "unmasked" actor in question never actually wore a mask — nor starred in the movie, for that matter (technically speaking).
In the Scream franchise, there are four films, seven hunters, and one infamous black and white "ghostface" costume. They're all trying to end Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott, and they typically have roots in her fictional hometown of Woodsboro, California. Only, there's one more element that they all share, and it's probably the most recognized: their voice.
In the movies, the insane people-hunters all use the same voice changer in order to hide their identities over phone calls —
only the voice you hear on screen doesn't come courtesy of a voice changer; it comes courtesy of voice actor Roger Jackson.
Some younger audiences might recognize his voice as Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls, but he will certainly go down in his history as the voice that made famous this one line: "What's your favorite scary movie?"
8 Robert Englund As Freddy Krueger: A Nightmare On Elm Street
There's nothing more comforting than a good night's sleep. You spend all day tiring yourself out, and all you want to do is catch a few Zs. Thanks to A Nightmare of Elm Street, however, dozing off is no longer as comfortable as it used to be. So, if you want someone to blame, point fingers at none other than Robert Englund, the actor who starred as the fedora-wearing Freddy Krueger in all eight of the NoES movies (if we don't acknowledge the dreaded remake, maybe it'll disappear).
Behind all the melted skin, and underneath the razor glove, is Englund, a harmless stage actor who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time when Wes Craven was casting his literal nightmare of a horror movie.


7 Doug Bradley As Pinhead: Hellraiser
For all things torture, look no further than Clive Barker's Hellraiser. And if you want to put a face to the torture, look no further than Doug Bradley, the actor who plays the film's main baddie Pinhead.
Just like Robert Englund, Bradley starred in eight of the Hellraiser movies, and during those eight movies, he had no trouble scaring the heck out of audiences, young and old. He was a quiet assasin, contrasting the horrific, bloody terror in the movies with his eerie, calm, and collected demeanor. But don't worry, IRL he's just your average actor; clocking in, staying busy, and being creative.
That said, though, he's no stranger to playing the villain. In the video game Star Wars: The Old Republic, he voices the Emperor (aka the guy who helped turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader).
6 Boris Karloff As Frankenstein's Monster: Frankenstein
During the 1930s and '40s, Universal Studios famously entered into an era of horror. They released creature features like The Wolf Man and The Mummy, and even ones based on literary classics, like Dracula and Frankenstein — two of which starred actor Boris Karloff.
During Universal's horror heyday, Karloff first starred as Frankenstein's monster in 1931. He wasn't quite beat-for-beat with the character from Mary Shelley's novel, but he still managed to become the most memorable representation of the monster.
Then, just a year later, Karloff starred as Imhotep in The Mummy. In both roles, Karloff is more or less a bumbling creature, but he managed to inject something uniquely human into both of them — which might explain why they've gone down in history as some of the most recognizable movie monsters of all time.
5 Gunnar Hansen As Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Even at their scariest, some horror movie characters have a certain level of charm to them. There's a kind of unique romance in their depiction of an otherwise frightening person or creature, and in a way, it makes them slightly relatable.
This is not the case with Gunnar Hansen's Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In director Tobe Hooper's seminal horror movie classic, Leatherface is a feral, disgusting, squealing cannibal who has one singular goal: hurt innocent people so that he can feed them to his family. That's pretty much it.
Thankfully, Hansen is nothing like his character. In fact, he later became a writer, documentarian, and teacher (even documenting his experience on the filming of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a book titled Chain Saw Confidential). He died in 2015.


4 Jonathan Breck As The Creeper: Jeepers Creepers
The Creeper in the three Jeepers Creepers films is not what he seems (though his identity is made perfectly clear by the end of the first movie). At first, he seems like your run-of-the-mill horror movie serial killer who just so happens to enjoy running people off the road in his giant truck. Later on in the movie, however, it's discovered that he's a flesh-eating, fear-sniffing, winged monster who only hunts during the springtime. IRL though, he's played by actor Jonathan Breck.
So, basically, don't be afraid of the guy. Underneath all the prosthetics, he's an actor who is far less creepy than the role he's best known for might suggest. In fact, he brings a kind of dark humor to the character at times (though that humor might be lost on any viewers who aren't exactly the biggest fans of the horror genre).
3 Reggie Nalder As Kurt Barlow: 'Salem's Lot
Stephen King's second novel after his debut Carrie was 'Salem's Lot (originally titled Second Coming until his wife Tabitha convinced him that it sounded a bit pornographic, according to his memoir On Writing). The book is haunting, unsettling, and graphic, and the TV movie from director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) was more or less its watered-down cousin.
That said, there are moments that work — specifically when it comes to the main baddie Kurt Barlow (played by Reggie Nalder).
Though officially uncredited in the movie, Nalder does a bang-up job as Barlow, the grotesque king of vampires.
His depiction is vastly different than the one from the book, but Nalder nevertheless brought some unique thrills and chills to this version of the character.
Nalder played 60 different roles throughout his career, but 'Salem's Lot is perhaps the one for which he's best known.
2 Bill Skarsgård As Pennywise: It (2017)
In 2017, Pennywise the Dancing Clown met a crew of worthy challengers in yet another Stephen King adaptation, It. Bill Skarsgård donned the creature's creepy clown facade, terrorizing the fictional town of Derry, Maine in one of the most disturbing examples of someone playing with their food before eating it.
However, taking a look at Skarsgård, it's difficult to see what exactly casting directors saw in him. He's young, model-esque, and charming. Comparing that with Pennywise's sadistic, manipulative, kid-eating ways, it's unclear how anyone could have possibly thought he was a good fit for the character. That said, he managed to make the character more haunting than some viewers might have ever expected in a mainstream horror movie.
He'll be returning to the role in 2019 for It: Chapter 2, which takes place 27 years after the original.


1 Tim Curry As Pennywise: It (1990)
Now, even though Skarsgård's depiction of Stephen King's clown monster was Grade-A, it wasn't the first. In 1990, there was a made-for-TV adaptation that starred Tim Curry in the villainous role. Having already starred as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Darkness in Legend, Curry was no stranger to playing the bad guy (or at least the morally compromised guy), so jumping into Pennywise's clown suit wasn't too much of a challenge. Still, he managed to make a made-for-TV monster something people would fear for years to come.
Curry has a famously recognizable voice, which would explain why he became so successful doing voice work for various animated shows, but Pennywise remains one of his most iconic roles.

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