Most people would think twice about questioning Kane Hodder’s judgment, but the actor/stuntman who has turned the role of Jason Voorhees into a career says that there are some who do. “A lot of people consider me an asshole for doing these kinds of movies,” says Hodder, who also recently completed bit parts in “Pumpkinhead II” and “Demolition Man”. “Some people really hate me for it. But that’s OK. It’s fine with me, because just as many people consider me a star for doing those same films.”
Hodder, completing a last-minute round of press interviews a few days before “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” makes its theatrical bow, is a real student of the “Friday the 13th” mythos. He’s been a fan since the original and, having played Jason in the last three entries, is one of the few constants in what has been a long-lived, and continuously panned, series.
“There have always been some good points in the previous eight Friday films,” Hodder reflects. “There have been some good stories, some of the films have been directed pretty well and there have been some good performances. The biggest problem has been that all of these elements never came together in the same film.
“I’m convinced that how well actors played Jason in the previous films had a real bearing on how well the films were received,” he continues. “Excluding myself, the guys who did real well as Jason were Ted White and C.J. Graham. But the main difference between myself and the other Jason actors is that none of the other guys had the fun I’ve had playing the character. They all seemed to have the attitude of ‘Yeah, it was fine, it was a job.’ I thoroughly enjoy playing Jason, and I think it’s this enthusiasm that comes across in the Friday movies I’ve done.”
This was the attitude that Hodder recalls feeling when he stepped onto the set of “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.” I always felt Jason was a cool character, so when I got the part I was determined to not only enjoy playing him, but to be very serious about doing it as well as I could. And, even though the makeup was uncomfortable and miserable to work in, I think I did a damned good job.
“Attitude is everything when it comes to the character,” he continues. “I’m real natural when it comes to looking scary. If you’re not seriously trying to frighten people, then the fear these movies are intended to generate doesn’t come across. I truly try to scare the shit out of people all the time. Between takes, in the makeup trailer, you never know when I’m going to go ‘Boo!’ That’s the main reason I keep getting asked back to play Jason.”
However, Hodder says that the scariest thing about returning for “Jason Goes to Hell” was that New Line and producer Sean Cunningham were entrusting the fate of the franchise to a rookie director, Adam Marcus. “I was leery of Adam at first, primarily because he was so young,” he admits. “I was concerned that we would get on the set and his age and inexperience would cause all kinds of problems. But, during early meetings between us, he seemed to know what he was talking about and was intent on doing things a certain way. That’s when I started getting a good feeling about him and, once we started shooting, I wasn’t disappointed.”
One problem Hodder did encounter on “Jason Goes to Hell”, however, quite literally centered around trying to breathe. “The tough part was that this time, the hockey mask was imbedded into the latex, so I couldn’t remove it between takes,” he recalls. “In the last two films, that was kind of my saving grace, because I was able to do something physical, then slip off the mask and get some air between takes. Not this time, I had to try and catch my breath with the mask over my face. It was much harder than I had anticipated it would be.”
Turning away from Jason, Hodder recalls a part that got away several years ago – one which would have thrust Hodder almost immediately into the horror spotlight. “I had a meeting with Wes Craven about playing a character he was developing called Freddy Krueger,” reveals the actor matter-of-factly. “At the time, Wes wasn’t sure what kind of person he wanted for the role of Freddy, so I had as good a shot as anybody else. He was initially thinking of a big guy for the part, and he was also thinking of somebody who had real burn scars. But obviously, he changed his whole line and went with Robert Englund, who’s smaller. I would have loved to play the part, but I do think Wes made the right choice.”
Trivia buffs should take pleasure in learning that Hodder did step in for Englund in the new Friday film – sort of. The stuntman placed Krueger’s glove on his own hand for the film’s showstopping epilogue, the setup for the rumored Jason vs. Freddy team-up.
Returning to “Jason Goes to Hell”, Hodder believes that no matter how good the film turns out, it won’t change anyone’s opinion about the Friday films as a whole. “The critics will dump all over this movie just like they’ve done with the previous eight, and many of them will do it without even bothering to see the movie,” he predicts. “But I truly believe that this movie will legitimize the Friday films as much as they can be legitimized. The bottom line is that this film is for the fans – the people who have been there from the beginning and have sat through the good Fridays and the shitty ones. With “Jason Goes to Hell”, I think the fans will be able to honestly say that they’ve seen a pretty damned good film, which is what they deserve.”