“Beetlejuice,” to remind readers, was a stylized horror/comedy about a country-dwelling couple who die in a car wreck and become ghosts in their own home. When a group of insufferable yuppies move into their house, the couple — bad at haunting — have to hire a “bio-exorcist” named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to scare the newcomers away. Beetlejuice, however, is a wild, growling weirdo who doesn’t care for propriety. Keaton plays the role with a head-spinning punk energy that has left the character ripe for revisitation

For “The Green Mile,” Rockwell seems to have received narrow instructions from his acting coach. In addition to getting into the Wild Bill’s mindset, Rockwell also hoped to explore the character’s cultural history. His coach encouraged him to look into the arts and backgrounds of people from Appalachia. When it came to character cues, Rockwell said he looked into two movies for inspiration. One was “Beetlejuice.” To quote:

“[Wild Bill], aside from being a despicable person, was also very funny. He had a lot of funny dialogue. So, that was easy to do. And there was an Appalachian accent. My acting coach told me to watch clogging, which is kind of a hillbilly tap dancing. I watched ‘Beetlejuice’ for that [role], I remember. I watched things like ‘Deliverance.’ Actually, one of the guys in ‘Deliverance’ is in ‘The Green Mile.’ I think he’s the executioner.”

Rockwell is referring to actor Bill McKinney who played a mountain man in John Boorman’s “Deliverance” and a character named Jack Vay Hay in “The Green Mile.” Rockwell doesn’t elucidate further on how Beetlejuice influenced Wild Bill, but one can see the physical similarities. They both have bad teeth, growl comedic obscenities, and left good manners behind long ago. Like Beetlejuice, Wild Bill is, in Rockwell’s words, “a human pus ball.”

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