Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Jason Voorhees: A Candid Interview
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing movie maniac Jason Voorhees of the hugely successful Friday The 13th movie series. We all know Jason from his huge body count, but I was curious: who is the man behind the mask?
DG: It's a real pleasure to meet you! You're quite a legend!
JV: Why thank you! It's nice to be recognized for my work.
DG: In your films, you never speak. Why is that?
JV: Well, when I'm out hacking up teens, I feel that being the strong, silent type is the best way to go. I know a few of my fellow killers follow this philosophy. Michael Myers really started the whole thing, and I come from his school of thought on the matter. Other maniacs, like Freddy for instance, like to taunt their victims, but that just isn't me. It's an artistic choice.
DG: Speaking of Freddy, you fought him in Freddy vs. Jason. Are you really rivals off set, or do you get along?
JV: We had a decent working relationship, but I wouldn't categorize us as friends. He really kept to himself when we weren't filming.
DG: Are there any other film murderers you do spend time with?
JV: Oh yeah! Michael Myers and I go way back! He was really like a mentor to me when I first got into this business. He took me under his wing, showed me the ropes. I'm sure you can see some of his influence in my work. He's a much more simplistic murderer than I am, but that just works for him, ya know? He's a minimalist, whereas I try to get real creative with my kills. Still, he's done some brilliant stuff! I mean, check out that nurse he kills in the hot-tub in Halloween II! That was just amazing!
DG: Anyone else?
JV: Leatherface and I hang out from time-to-time. I go by his place anytime I'm in Texas. He makes the best sausage around! Candyman is also a close friend, as is Pumpkinhead.
DG: You've now starred in 11 films. Is there any that stand out for you?
JV: I started out so young. I mean, I was just a kid when we did the first one, and my mom really was the star of that picture. I was barely in the movie, and I spent most of my time in the lake. Still, I learned a lot by watching the people on that set, especially mom. She really is my inspiration!
I'm also really proud of my work on part 6. That was a big comeback for me, and I was nervous that the public wouldn't accept me coming out of retirement, but they really seemed to like it.
DG: Speaking of the retirement, you've now "retired" twice. What is the story with that, and why do you keep coming back?
JV: I guess I just love the business! I mean, killing horny, drug and alcohol crazed teens is what I was born to do! When I first retired, after part four (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), I was just tired. The studio brought in that Corey Feldman kid as a possible replacement, but that wasn't what they ultimately did with the series. The next movie (Friday the 13th part 5: A New Beginning), they couldn't get Feldman back, since he was now hanging out with Michael Jackson, so they got some other guy to play his character (Tommy Jarvis). I really felt this was a bad move, and to top it off, they had a whole red-herring thing going by revealing the killer to be an ambulance driver or something. They still set up Tommy to be my replacement at the end of the movie, but by then the damage was done.
DG: You actually did a cameo in that film. Why, when you had retired?
JV: I really did it as a favor to the producers. I just appeared as a vision for Tommy. It was an afternoon's work, so it wasn't a big deal.
DG: So, why did you come out of retirement for the next picture (Friday the 13th part 6: Jason Lives)?
JV: Well, first off, I had taken a nice, long break. I had vacationed in Hawaii, and really taken some time to get in touch with my feelings. I did a lot of soul-searching, and discovered that I really missed eviscerating promiscuous campers. I also felt like I needed to come in and help clean up this franchise that I had helped build. I knew that I couldn't let the studio make another travesty like part 5. When Paramount called and asked me to come back for a new film, I jumped at the chance.
DG: So why did you retire again in the early 90's with Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday?
JV: I'll be honest with you, that was all just a big publicity stunt on the part of New Line. We'd moved over to that studio from Paramount, and they were eager for me to do a flick with Freddy. They had both of us announce our "retirements" so they could then make a big deal of it when we "returned" in a "vs." picture. Of course, that movie got stuck in development hell, and we wound up doing other stuff in the meantime.
DG: So, how did you come up with the infamous goalie mask that has become your trademark?
JV: You may remember in the first film I didn't have any mask at all. I was just this lumpy headed kid. That just isn't scary. I felt Michael Myers had really gotten it right with his mask in the Halloween series, so I wanted something like that. In the second film I had a sort of bag on my head, but that just wasn't working for me. I'd always been big into hockey, so when we did the third film I brought along a goalie mask on the first day of the shoot. I had been playing with some of my friends at a local ice rink, and I had it in my bag. The director saw it, suggested that I put it on, and the rest is history!
DG: What was the reasoning for the direction you went in Jason X? Why sci-fi?
JV: To tell the truth, I was really wanting to branch out and do new things. I had auditioned for a few romantic comedies, and I was even briefly cast in Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock, but that didn't work out.
DG: Really? I wasn't aware of that! What happened?
JV: Well, I kept killing the extras they had for the beauty pagent scenes, and the director and producers really didn't take too kindly to that. I mean, that is what I do, but they just didn't feel like it fit their vision of what they thought the film should be. Personally, after having seen the final film, I think it would have been a way better movie if they'd allowed me to take out a few of the contestants. It would have given it an edge. Still, I got to meet Bill Shatner, so it wasn't a total waste!
DG: Any other films you were a part of, but were cut from?
JV: The only other one was Moulin Rouge. I had really wanted to make a musical, and I felt like this was my chance. Baz Lurhmann fired me when I tried to kill Nicole Kidman during one of her numbers. Hey, if you had to listen to that screeching she calls "singing", you'd have tried to kill her too! I still feel that I would have done everyone a service if they'd allowed me to put her out of her misery. She sounds like a dying cat! He replaced me with Ewan McGreggor, which I find to be an interesting choice.
DG: Okay, so back to Jason X. You decided to make a sci-fi film?
JV: Yeah. I'd always been a big fan of Ridley Scott's Alien, and so I really pushed to get this picture made. I know some of the fans didn't care for me doing a space picture, as they felt I was pulling a "Moonraker", but I'm really proud of that film. I felt it contained some of my best work, and the cyborg costume was fantastic! Still, I had to listen to my fans, so that led us to finally doing the Freddy flick.
DG: At one point, it was rumoured you were doing a new Friday the 13th with Quentin Tarantino. What is the story on that.
JV: I had suggested Tarantino after I saw Kill Bill. I mean, if he can make a skinny chick like Uma Thurman into a bad-ass killer, just imagine what he could do for me! We met and discussed it, but Quentin was busy with other projects. I'm hoping we'll one day get to work together.
DG: You just completed the 12th entry in this series, a "reboot" if you will. What is up next for you? Sequel?
JV: That has been discussed, but I'm just not sure what will happen at this point. Right now, I'm busy with a pet project of mine that I'm hoping will hit the stage in the next year or so.
DG: Stage? What is this project you speak of?
JV: Like I said, I've always wanted to do a musical, so I've been working with Tim Rice to do Friday the 13th: The Musical. I think it's a great direction for me, and we're hoping to have some of the success that other films have had when they were adapted into stage musicals. I mean, if The Producers can be a broadway hit, why can't Friday the 13th?
DG: Is there anything about you that you feel your fans should know?
JV: Hey, I just want all of them to know how much I appreciate their support throughout everything I've been through. The Academy may never recognise me for my work, and I may never have Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt numbers, but I do have a loyal fan base. That means the world to me!