Actor inherits Jason’s mask in new ‘Friday the 13th’ movieWritten by Michael Punsalan | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Growing up as a child, the only two things that gave me nightmares were Jason from ‘Friday The 13th’ and Bigfoot from ‘Six Million Dollar Man.’ I was totally freaked out by them,” said Derek Mears, the latest actor to play legendary horror character Jason Voorhees. He will debut in Michael Bay’s remake of the Friday the 13th film series, scheduled for release on Feb. 13, which, yes, is a Friday.
Donning the hockey mask was no easy feat for Mears.
“It was so strange because it’s such an iconic character, and everyone knows who Jason is,” said Mears, the seventh actor to play the killer role. “It’s like when they say, ‘We’re having a new James Bond’, and everyone says ‘Daniel Craig, who’s that guy? He’s no Sean Connery.’ And then all of a sudden, you’re thrown in that role. Now I feel a responsibility to do a good job.”
While “Friday the 13th” producer Michael Bay is best known for directing Hollywood blockbusters such as “Transformers,” “Pearl Harbor” and “Armageddon,” rebooting a classic horror series is something he’s familiar with. While Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company produced the reincarnations of the “Amityville Horror” and both “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” prequels, its “Friday the 13th” that seems to be getting the attention.
“It’s definitely got a crazy buzz,” Mears said. “One night we were shooting in the forest and at different times, different cast members came over and said, ‘I can’t believe we’re working on a ‘Friday the 13th’ film; this is crazy!’ It was so funny, but then a little later a different unprompted cast member would say ‘Hey guys, did you ever stop to realize that we’re working on a “Friday the 13th’ film?” We just couldn’t stop laughing.”
The same eerie buzz was present the first time Mears put on the hockey mask.
“When I first went to see [special effects artist] Scott Stoddard, he was in his shop with a bunch of people working on different things like broken body parts or blood packs, just a room full of horrors — which was fantastic,” Mears said as he laughed. “Scott said, ‘Since you’re here, why don’t you try one of the masks on?’ Peripherally, everybody in the room stopped working and watched me. I picked up the mask and had a tingly feeling. It’s like when you watch ‘Star Wars’, and the initial music — you know, the horns — start to play and the title drops. You know how you get that chill? That’s the feeling to describe putting the mask on for the first time. I turned around and all of the workers in the shop started applauding and said, ‘Yeah, this is going to work.’”
While Jason’s trademark look might be the same, Mears revealed that the character and storyline aim in a new direction.
“They want to bring Jason back to where he’s not a slow-moving shark,” Mears said. “He’s a normal guy. He’s a hunter who lives in the woods. In my head, what’s going on in the script is very similar to John Rambo in ‘First Blood,’ where he’s the victim. He’s rejected by society and he just wants to be left alone. But then these kids come into his world and he has nowhere to go. He’s like a caged animal. In my mind, I play Jason like the anti-hero.
“As a fan myself, I saw it as an intelligent script,” Mears said. “It doesn’t dumb down the horror movie for the fans, but rather takes it to the next level. I’m not trying to promote the movie; I’m just a fan who’s excited that the script is really good.”
In person, Mears’ 6-foot-5” frame is almost as physically intimidating as his on-screen counterpart. However, his comical, well-spoken personality reveals an inner child who has longed to reverse roles with his childhood boogeyman.
“It’s a strange idea becoming what you’ve feared,” Mears said. “It’s exciting, but I’m a little nervous around it because I’m so passionate about it. The character has given me nightmares as a child, but I guess now it’s my turn to give nightmares to a new generation of kids.”
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