Interview by Royce Freeman
HOW DID YOU FIRST OBTAIN THE ROLE OF JASON IN FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD?
I had done a movie called "Prison" and I played a character who was long-since dead. So there was heavy prosthetic makeup involved and in fact, head to toe makeup, and three hours worth of appliances and a body suit. And John Buechler had designed and applied the makeup to me on that movie. And he really liked how I worked in the makeup, cause people when they wear that kind of makeup, they don't really use it. They just kinda stumble around. He liked how I used the makeup to make it look even better. And the following year, he was hired to direct Friday the 13th Part VIIand since no one before me had even played the role more than once it was kinda wide-open as to who would play Jason. And he convinced them that he wanted me to based on my work in the makeup and my background as a stuntman. And so I played the part and they really like it, how I performed so they asked me back for Part VIII and again for Part IX. So, basically because of John Buechler pushing for me and then I guess y'know I did what they wanted to see, and they finally said "okay, this is the guy."
OUT OF ALL THREE FILMS WORKED ON IN THE SERIES, WHICH WAS YOUR FAVORITE?
Part VII for sure. I think its the only one, out of the ones that I've done, that was kinda scary. And it had the best action for sure. And a decent storyline with the telekinesis and all that.
WHICH DIRECTOR GAVE YOU THE MOST CREATIVE FREEDOM TO VOICE YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE WAY A CERTAIN SCENE WAS SHOT OR THE WAY A CERTAIN DEATH WENT?
Actually, I've been very lucky because all three directors gave me as much input as I wanted, especially regarding what the character would do, certain situations, how he would react, things like that. Y'know cause, I can't remember who, it wasn't Buechler, but someone thought maybe Jason should run, and I said "I don't feel he ever would run." And they kinda agreed with me. So, things like that regarding the character, they were really opened. All three of them were, which was real nice for me because, not necessarily that all of my ideas were exactly right, but they let me have as much input as I wanted. I think that made the whole performance better.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST MEET SEAN CUNNINGHAM? WHAT KIND OF PRODUCER, DIRECTOR IS HE AS FAR AS OFFSCREEN?
I love working with Sean because - I actually met him when I was the stunt coordinator on "House", the first "House" movie. And I've done every movie that he has done since "House" which was, I think 1985. I've been the stunt coordinator on every one he's done, so it was kinda interesting that he had brought Jason into the existence really and I was already working with him before I played the part so it was kind of a coincidence that he would come back and later produce the last one. And we had already been working together anyway.
HOW LONG WOULD YOU REPRISE THE ROLE OF JASON IN THE FRIDAY THE 13TH SERIES? DOES IT EVER GET BORING TO HEAR THEM CALL YOU UP AND SAY 'WANNA PLAY JASON AGAIN'?
To me, it doesn't get boring at all. It is the most fun I have doing movies. I've done over a hundred movies but those by far are the most enjoyable. It may be the hardest work also, but the most enjoyable. And I love playing the character. I like to come up with new little things about the character, little nuances that no one else tried to put into the character. And I think it comes across on the screen.
WHAT ARE YOU FEELINGS ON THE ROLE OF JASON VOORHEES, THE FANS WANNA KNOW YOUR ANALYSIS OF THE CHARACTER?
Y'know, I don't really think that deeply about the character. But it seems to me that it is fairly obvious, the revenge factor and it has become a natural thing for him to kill everyone he comes in contact with. I don't get too deep into it.
IN YOUR MIND IS THERE ANY GOOD IN JASON VOORHEES, IS THERE ANY INNOCENCE TO HIM, IS HE ALL BAD?
Oh, there certainly is still the innocence and good in him. I've tried to keep a little bit, believe it or not, and it'll sound funny, but I've tried to keep a little bit of integrity in the character. There are a lot of little things that the fans don't know. For instance, in Part VIII, there was a scene written in the script where, if you remember the movie where the encounter with the survivors and Jason on the docks right when they arrive in New York, the dog is there. There was a scene written where Jason kicks the dog and goes after the people. As ridiculous as it sounds, I said, "Oh, that's not right. I mean, Jason can pull people's limbs off and beat them to death with their own arms, things like that, but he's not gonna be kicking any dog." You know, you gotta draw the line somewhere.
ARE YOU KNOWN AS JASON VOORHEES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
Oh certainly yeah.
DO THE KIDS AT SCHOOL CALL YOUR KIDS THE CHILDREN OF JASON VOORHEES?
They probably will. I have two little boys and they're real young. One of them is just 3 and 1/2 and the other is 10 months today. So, they haven't really had that much teasing or whatever from the neighbors or the neighborhood kids. But the whole neighborhood definitely knows and there's so many 13s in my life. There's 13 houses on my street, and it just, people know and it's kinda fun. Sometimes the neighborhood kids' friends would come over and ask for a picture and stuff, but its pretty subdued.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE THREE DIRECTORS YOU'VE WORKED WITH IN THIS SERIES, JOHN CARL BUECHLER, ROB HEDDEN, and ADAM MARCUS?
As far as the people themselves, all three of them were great and like I said before very enjoyable to work with. I think Adam probably had the best production quality in the film. I mean, I think "Jason Goes to Hell" was, if you look at the production quality, it was one of the best. Buechler definitely had the best sense of horror, how to scare people, how to build up the suspense, and then deliver the scare. And Rob was really creative with the writing. I mean, he wrote most of the dialogue. All three had different good points about them.
WHAT WAS THE MOST FUN YOU HAD FILMING THE THREE MOVIES?
I would have to say, going to Time Square in Manhattan and shooting a few scenes. Because we were there all night, one night, right in the middle of Time Square in the traffic island, and I'm used to shooting most of my scenes out in some desolate lake so there aren't too many on-lookers bystanders. And when we were in the city there were hundreds of people lined on both sides of the streets. They had police barriers and everything else and I'm out in the traffic island, in full makeup with my mask on. And because I was so out in the open, I decided never to take the mask off while I was out in Time Square just because I would like to keep a little of the mystique there. And I honestly felt like I was one of the Beatles or something because being on that traffic island looking, and seeing hundreds of people cheering and stuff. And if I did any kind of Jason move like the patented head-tilt, or just stare at them, they went nuts. And I had the best time. That would probably be the single most enjoyable part of playing the character.
IN THE ENTIRE SERIES, NOT ONLY THE ONES YOU'VE BEEN IN, WHAT IS THE ORDER THE FILMS RANK TO YOU, FROM FAVORITE TO LEAST FAVORITE?
Well I guess I have a little bit of prejudice. Out of all of them, I would say 7 was the best for me. I think the story and everything was the best. And then I'd have to go to Part 1, and then probably 4, and then maybe 8. I just think 7 was the best.
IN THE THREE FILMS OF THE SERIES, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE AND YOUR LEAST FAVORITE SCENE?
My favorite scene out of all the ones I've done, and it happens to be my favorite kill also. The sleeping bag scene from Part 7. It was just such a powerful, shocking scene because you don't expect it and the way that Buechler edited the scene, I think it really really effective. And I had just brought the biggest cheer from the audience, when I snuck into a theater and sat in the back with a paying audience.
AS FAR AS YOU KNOW, WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT WERE CUT FROM ALL THREE FILMS?
Oh sure. In "Jason Goes to Hell" there were a couple scenes in the diner that weren't used. The big one that comes to mind, was that there was a hole different ending to Part 7 which was filmed. In fact, I have the footage of it. It turned out that it was too identical to the ending from Part 1. So that's why they didn't use it. It involved a friend of mine who is a stuntman also, was fishing in a boat, at the end of the movie, and I come jumping out of the water and grab him by his neck and pull him under. And that whole scene was never used cause it was fairly obvious that it was trying copy the first one. It was a good scene.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF DIRECTING A FRIDAY THE 13TH FILM? HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ASKED?
I haven't been asked. And because the character is so demanding, I'm not sure if it would be possible. I mean, I certainly would like to have all the control. But I don't know if I physically could do it. A lot of people don't realize that I wear latex head to toe. My whole head is covered and then there's the body suit of latex all the way down to my ankles. And its exhausting to work in, just to perform in let alone to be sitting around directing other scenes. So, I don't think its physically possible for me to even think about that because I put all of my heart and soul into playing the character, and I don't think I could do the rest of the film justice.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT STUNT TO PERFORM IN EACH OF THE THREE FILMS FOR YOU? OUT OF ALL OF THE THREE FILMS, WHICH WAS STUNT THE HARDEST?
Well Part 7 had the most stunts for sure. The one that surprised me the most, I did the fire stunt, and everything where Tina ignited me and that's a dangerous stunt, kinda tricky to do. But the one that was kind of shocking was when the front of the porch roof came down on my head. Because they had it all rigged, the special effects guys had it all rigged so that with a push of a button the whole roof would. And it was like a 30 foot long roof and most of it was just real wood, and they tried to make the middle section which would come down on me, out of Balsa wood but you have Balsa 2x6s on edge, not flat, but on edge, they're very very strong even thought it's Balsa wood. And so even though the middle was Balsa wood, it was connected to all real wood, and it didn't give at all, the Balsa at all, because it was so connected. So when you see that roof come down on my head, you can tell that it drilled the shit outta me. It just about knocked me out.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO THE CAST DURING FILMING THOSE THREE FILMS?
There's a million things, I've talked about different stories. Like for Part 7, we were down in Alabama there was a set of course by the lake. And in order to get back to my dressing room, I had to walk about, or be driven about, a quarter of a mile on this kinda semi-circular dirt road, or if I wanted to, I could cut through the woods on a little path. And sometimes when I'm playing the character I like to be by myself with my own thoughts and I keep the mask on, that's a little method. But that's what I do. And I decided to go back to my room, but I thought I'd walk through the woods on the trail, and it was about 2 o' clock in the morning, cause we were shooting all night. And I'm walking on the trail by myself and I see this person approaching me and there's no one anywhere near either one of us and I don't recognize him as being a member of the crew or anything. He stops me and he says, and you have to keep in mind I have the mask on still. He says, "Excuse me, are you with the movie?" And he was a little nervous, I guess. But when someone asks sort of a stupid question like that, I'm gonna make sure they pay for it. So I just stood there and once again did the head-tilt. And he begins to look around, and says "You are with the movie right?" And that was my cue to make a little lunge for him and a little grunt. And he just took off, running backwards and fell over a tree and just left. And I never found out who he was. But Buechler, the next day, had said "Y'know we were supposed to have the local sheriff come out and visit, and I don't think he ever showed up." And I said, "Oh really." I never told him the story but I do a lot of things like that with scaring people in the makeup. Like "Jason Goes to Hell," my favorite thing to do was, cause you can't see not one part of my real body because of the latex, if I sit motionless with the mask on and close my eyes so you can't see through the netting in the eyes, you can't really tell if it is a person or not. And I had kinda an accomplice, if there was a visitor on the set. He would show them around and end with me kinda propped in a corner, standing a little awkwardly. And he would say, "Hey, look. There's the Jason dummy we're gonna use for the explosion scene later. Oh yeah, just touch it. It feels really real." And they'll be touching me, and poking me, and I don't move at all. And when I think it's the right time I'll jerk to life and make a big roar of something. It just scares the piss out of them. I enjoy scaring people.
WHERE DID YOU FILM JASON GOES TO HELL, WAS IT FILMED IN CONNECTICUT?
No, it was all filmed in Los Angeles. Well, the sheriff's station was actually the sheriff's station in Malibu but everything was local.
HAVE YOU KEPT IN TOUCH AND/OR WORKED ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS WITH ANY OF THE CAST OR CREW FROM PARTS VII,VIII, and JASON GOES TO HELL?
John Buechler is still a very good friend of mine. A coupla makeup people that I've worked with on these films I've worked with since. I kept in somewhat touch with John LeMay and Kari Keegan.
HOW HAS PLAYING JASON VOORHEES CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
With stunts in general, it hasn't impacted my career too much. I've always worked steadily doing stunts and I guess I always will. But it has opened a lot of doors with more acting roles. Even though there was no dialogue in that part, people are more interested to see "Let's bring in that guy that played Jason and see if he can act." I've done a lot of acting parts because of the association with Jason. I mean, obviously if you ever say "Wishmaster" I only had like a two minute scene, really a cameo. If I hadn't played Jason, they wouldn't have given me Starring Billing.
I GUESS ONCE YOU RETIRE AS JASON VOORHEES YOU WILL PASS THE BATON TO ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN IF THEY GET INTO ACTING, HUH?
Sure, it won't be a baton, it'll be a machete. I will pass it on. I mean, for our holiday cards, our seasons greetings cards my wife and kids and I had done various Jason themed cards with me in full costume and my little boy and his version of a costume. But he has a hockey mask that he wears around the house and for trick or treating and stuff, so I'm sure I'll try and pass it along with all my tips about maiming.
HAVE THEY STARTED FILMING FREDDY VS JASON: MILLENIUM MASSACRE YET?
No, we have not yet. They're still trying to get a script that everyone likes.
WHY DO THE PRODUCERS NOT WORRY ABOUT CONTINUITY AND LITTLE THINGS THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULD NOT PICK UP?
They don't know how knowledgeable the fans are. I mean if you look at how I had the wrong eye missing in "Jason Goes to Hell". First time I went into KNB and looked at makeup, I said, "Whoa, boy. You got the wrong eye missing there boys." And they'd been working for months on the makeup so it was already far too late to do anything.
IS THERE ANY EXPLANATION AS TO WHY YOU WENT FROM BEING A BOY AT THE END OF PART VIII TO BEING FULL GROWN IN JASON GOES TO HELL?
No, it's just that I've always hated that. Going back to a previous question, what scene I didn't like in one of them. That was the scene, where Jason turns into a little boy at the end of Part VIII. Somehow in Rob Hedden's mind, I think, it was a valid ending and knew what he wanted but I don't think it was presented so that people could understand it. I hated that whole ending. And I fought it to the bitter end, but I was over-ruled. That's why I pushed to ignore that ending when we began 'Jason Goes to Hell'.
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