From Monster Fandom to The Munsters: Daniel Roebuck Talks Destiny

The Munsters is being released amid a lot of anticipation and excitement. A new generation is being introduced to classic monsters, and older generations are meeting new incarnations of their favorite monsters. I was fortunate to sit down with Daniel Roebuck on the set of Black Archives to chat about his path from reading Famous Monsters of Filmland to starring in The Munsters. He shares the reverence for classic monsters and horror that our readers possess and talked with me about his path from a character he created in childhood to his current role on the big screen.

Daniel Roebuck: “So when I was twelve, I was in a circus, so I was a vampire clown in the circus. The only monster an 11- or 12-year-old kid could be is Dracula because all I needed was tuxedo, right? So imagine that at some point I said to my mother ‘I need a tuxedo with the things in the back.’

“She’s like ‘What? Why?’

“‘So, I could be Dracula. And then I need a cape with the thing. [He motions toward his collar to imitate the Dracula cape] Why? I don’t know. It’s there.’

Daniel Roebuck at 12 and 59 dressed in Count Dracula costumes.
Childhood dream to current reality. Image courtesy of Daniel Roebuck

“So, my grandmother made my Cape. So that’s me at 12. And that’s me at 59. Wow. So, I’m playing a funny vampire as a child. I’m a funny vampire as an adult. So, I say in this, you know, God is good. And that’s proof of that because he made sure that I knew when I was a kid that I had to prepare for this role as Grandpa Munster.

“Stranger still, when Rob sent me the script he said, ‘Oh, by the way, the character’s not Grandpa because there’s no Eddie in the script. His name is ‘The Count,’ obviously, Count Dracula. But in the script, he’s named ‘The Count.’ This is what that vampire clown was named. I wear a top hat with a bat on it. Like, you can’t make this stuff up. But overall though, me like going to the movie Halloween when I was a kid, and then one day being killed by Michael Myers watching Phantasm when I was a kid, and one day being killed by the sphere in Phantasm Ravager.”

Like I am the avatar for monster fans ’cause, I am the monster fan. Who gets to be living that dream? It’s quite extraordinary.

A business card from Daniel Roebuck's youth for his character "The Count."
He was The Count from way back. Image courtesy of Daniel Roebuck.

“So I love horror movies and I love makeup. And for a while, because you know, you grow up and you don’t know that you could be an actor ‘cause you live in Bethlehem, PA? Saying, ‘I’m gonna be on TV’ is like saying ‘I’m going to the moon,’ you know? There’s just no way. People don’t do it so, but again, God is good and he planted all these seeds in me and showed me my future so that I could earn it eventually. I shake.

“I’m obsessed with horror too. I’m curious to know about how it was for you as a teen girl obsessed with horror?”

Teenage Daniel Roebuck recieving "Phantom of the Opera" Lon Cheney Sr memorabilia for Christmas.
Daniel Roebuck gets Phantom gear for Christmas as a teen. Image courtesy of Daniel Roebuck

We talked for a moment about how female horror fans were less common in the past, but we definitely love horror. We discussed how Gen X and Boomer children had to be patient to watch horror. We had to wait for films to be released and we had to track VHS copies down in catalogs. We didn’t have eBay to find our monster memorabilia, and couldn’t buy much merchandise with our allowances and part-time jobs when we found it.

A Monument Honoring Age Thirteen

Daniel Roebuck: “When we were kids, we would read Famous Monsters magazine. And when you read Famous Monsters magazine, you got a sense of humor about the monsters. A lot of information with makeup and everything. And then you also got this idea that you should collect stuff because the Ackerman guy [Famous Monsters of Filmland] had a mansion filled with monster stuff. And so you were like, ‘I don’t know what that is or why that is. But I want that.’ So. I built a collection up. Ultimately, people could go to an old website and they can follow a link to House of Horror—Doctor Shocker’s House, Doctor Shocker being a horror host character that I created a 2400-square foot museum on my property in Burbank, CA.

Daniel as a Horror Host with monster contour makeup in a coffin holding his infant son
Daniel takes a break with the next generation. Image courtesy of Daniel Roebuck.

“…One day you have kids, and I had this whole museum that was a monument to my 13th year, like the apex of my childhood, you know, 13. It was 1976. When I played with all my superhero stuff and so on. 13, because at 14 I was obsessed with Debbie Barrero, so all I thought about was her. But at 13 I thought about monsters. And then I’m at my son, Buster’s football game, and I was leaving. My wife says [‘Where are you going?’], I got these people coming to see my monster collection. And she’s like, ‘oh, OK,’ and I was driving home, and I thought, ‘What kind of person leaves his 13-year-old son, to go celebrate his own 13-year-old life?’ So I had an epiphany that night and ended up selling a lot of this stuff.

“Now I have some stuff, and of course, I’ve always collected monsters and now I’ve got a lot of monster stuff and now I’m going to be monster stuff, so everything comes back. So everything came back around and Buster’s now 24 and my daughter’s 26 and they’re adults and so, you know, I don’t feel bad about buying a monstrous frame tray puzzle on eBay.

“A few weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas doing a movie for Tom Devin called Las Vegas, Frankenstein. And then a week later I’m in North Carolina doing a movie for Dean Jones called Black Archives, which is a werewolf movie.”

Daniel Roebuck as an adult with a Herman Munster doll, signed by Fred Gwynne.
Daniel Roebuck as an adult with a Herman Munster doll, signed by Fred Gwynne. Image Courtesy of Daniel Roebuck

He’s even an honorary funeral director!

Daniel Roebuck: “I make faith-based family movies and they could go to I made one called Getting Grace. My first movie is about a teenage girl who goes into a Funeral Home to find out what’s gonna happen after she dies, but she ends up teaching the funeral director how to celebrate life so that one is called Getting Grace. My attention to detail is so much that I have an honorary funeral director’s degree. Yeah, it says, ‘Embalming and Funeral Directing.’ And when they gave it to me, I walked down the aisle and I gave the keynote speech and then they came in saying ‘…but you’re not allowed to involve anybody.’ Because, you know, sometimes for an actor, I spend a couple of months not working. I thought maybe I could pick up a few more bucks embalming people. But turns out that you have to be trained to do it. Not, just qualified if you did it in a movie.”

We talked a bit more about the funeral industry and his upcoming projects, and then he had to get on his way. Watch for Black Archives and as you enjoy The Munsters, remember that Daniel Roebuck prepared for this role since he was 12 years old!

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Written by Sarah Sigfried

Sarah Sigfried hails from the rural mountains of Virginia. She has enjoyed horror movies and ghost stories since childhood. A mental health clinician by day, she spends her leisure time creating nightmares. She dabbles in makeup special effects and horrifies her friends and neighbors each Halloween. Sigfried is an emerging author and is an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. She dominates pub trivia on horror-related topics and especially enjoys classic horror movies and 1980’s horror comedies. She lives with her spouse and their cat, Sam in a home originally built by a family of morticians.

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