By: Courtney Dabney
Fort Worth actor Michael Goggans developed serious acting chops from 38 years on stage at Hip Pocket Theatre under the direction of the theatre’s co-founders, Johnny and Diane Simons. Goggans has played so many characters that he can’t remember them all.
It’s doubtful, however, that he or anyone else will soon forget his macabre portrayal of “The Ghoul” in WGN America’s new bewitching miniseries Salem.
Set in the precarious world of 17th century Massachusetts, Salem delves into what really fed the town’s infamous witch trials and uncovers the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the shroud of this period in American history.
In Salem, witches are real, and they are scary. This definitely is a “mature audiences only” television show.
In January 2014, Xander Berkeley, who co-stars as Magistrate Hale, was advising Salem’s co-creator Adam Simon on casting. Fort Worth film producer Tom Huckabee suggested Goggans for a character called The Ghoul.
“I took an iPhone shot of Mike and texted it to Xander, who texted it to Simon,” Huckabee said.
Based on the job, Huckabee was able to get Goggans signed with Dallas agent Linda McAlister. Everyone was shocked that Goggans didn’t have a cell phone or a computer, and that almost torpedoed the deal, Huckabee says. “We got over that hump by having me handle most of the communications. I guess that makes me his manager,” he said.
Goggans, 61, still doesn’t own a computer and uses his cell phone for emergencies only.
Googans says he’s still trying to discover more about his character. “I definitely consider him human, but somewhere down the road he got lost along the way. I think the war had a lot to do with it, and somehow or another, for some reason, he’s gotten involved with the witches,” he said.
“And he’s not like real high on their list of people. Mary Sibley is the top-dog witch, and The Ghoul does what Mary Sibley tells him to do, no questions asked. Everybody should be afraid of Mary,” he said laughing. “And everybody is.”
Berkeley admits they were going out on a limb casting Goggans. “He’s a local hero in Fort Worth but never had really gotten out of town,” he said. “With Tom’s word being enough to go on, I went to bat for Michael. I knew I was going to have scenes with him and didn’t want to go to local casting because you never know what you’re going to get. I knew The Ghoul would be an important part of the show, and I’m really thrilled with the way it worked out. He’s great to work with.”
After filming Salem, Goggans shot Little Texas, a film directed by Dallas Producer’s Association president Christopher Bigbie and produced by Adam Deitrich, Fort Worth actor, writer and producer, former development director of Hip Pocket Theatre, and Devin Edwards. In the film, Goggans plays an abusive meth addict whose debtors are coming to collect. “I’m sure when local directors catch a glimpse of Michael’s screen presence and immeasurable talent, he’ll be shooting films in Texas and elsewhere for a very long time,” Deitrich said.
Salem aired on April 20 on television’s highly competitive Sunday night. WGN’s first original scripted series ranked as the network’s best telecast performance in more than seven years. It has been signed for a second season. The series is co-created and written by award-winning Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, who serve as executive producers alongside Prospect Park’s Josh Barry and Jeff Kwatinetz and David Von Ancken. Salem hails from Fox 21, the prolific cable production division of 20th Century Fox Television.