It’s been almost two decades since we last saw Kane Hodder pick up the old hockey mask and machete as Jason Vorhees, bringing a quality to the role that has arguably yet to be bettered. These days, Hodder has swapped the machete for a hatchet and is fast becoming known under a different alias: Victor Crowley, the murderous, swamp-dwelling ghoul that stalks the characters of Adam Green’s hugely successful Hatchet parts one and two.
With the release of the third Hatchet installment just around the corner with promises of things being three times as bat-shit crazy as the preceding films, Hodder remains one of the hardest working and in- demand horror icons working today.
We were luckily enough to check in with him and get his thoughts on moving on from his accomplished stunt work to become one of the biggest modern bogeymen in modern American horror…and just exactly why wasn’t he brought in for Freddy vs. Jason.
ShockTillYouDrop.com: What are you up to right now?
Kane Hodder: Well, right now I’m doing a film with Bill Moseley. He and I are playing brothers in a movie called Old 37. It’s about the fact that he and I drive an old piece of shit beat-up ambulance and we respond to 911 calls before the real people get there. We take the victims away and sometimes do horrible things to them.
Shock: Is it going well?
Hodder: Yeah, it’s great! I’m also the stunt coordinator on the movie. My buddy Rick McCullum and I have been doing alot of good driving stunts so far and we just got into the character stuff in the last couple of days. I’m actually going to that big horror convention in Stockholm and then I come back here to New York to finish the movie.
Shock: Was it a career aspiration to move into acting from stunt work?
Hodder: You know, at the beginning it really wasn’t. I always wanted to be a working stunt person and that’s all I anticipated doing, never thinking that I would do any kind of acting because i have never been trained in any way and certainly never thinking anyone would ever want me to sign an autograph for them! (laughs) Of course everything changed the first time I played Jason. All of a sudden it was completely different – it was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it but I just never expected it. I think I tend to appreciate my situation and appreciate the fans sometimes more than other people might because I know without the horror fans I wouldn’t be known as I am now. I attribute all that notoriety to the fans and that’s why I try to be as accommodating and friendly to them as I can.
Shock: Can you talk about landing the gig on ‘Friday The 13th part 7: The New Blood’?
Hodder: Well I had done a movie called ‘Prison’ with Renny Harlin, it was his first American film and Viggo Mortensen was in it – it was a fantastic cast. We shot that up in Wyoming and I was the stunt coordinator on the movie. At the end of the shoot there was a character called Forsythe that has to come up out of the ground like a rotted corpse. Whoever was playing that character was going to be in full prosthetics in head to toe – three and a half hour make up so the whole body looked decayed. They had set it up for a make- up effects guy to wear that and at the last minute he couldn’t do it so the next logical thing was to ask somebody that was there – a very logical choice was me because I’m a stuntman and maybe I could put up with the make- up and all that..They said, ‘will you play the part?’ and I said of course! We did that shot – I think I was only in the make- up two days – at the end of the movie when this character comes up out of the ground, Renny decided it might be cool to have live night crawlers, big worms, all over my body so it really looked like a decaying corpse. I said sure, let’s do that and I suggested when I scream what If I had live worms coming out of my mouth? He said like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘sure! It’s not a big deal!’ I still don’t think it was a big deal. They washed them off, I put ‘em in my mouth and screamed..I think based on how enthusiastic I was in the part, trying to make It as good as I could and John Buechler was the make- up effects coordinator on the movie and he liked how I worked in the make- up. It’s a completely different process – the acting through prosthetics like that..based on that ability to work like that…John Buechler was hired to direct ‘Friday the 13th part 7’ and immediately said ‘Hey, I’d like Kane to play Jason because he worked well in the make- up and there are alot of stunts for Jason to do in this movie.’ In the previous movies and even in subsequent movies, there wasn’t that much stunt work for the Jason character. Since she had the telekinetic powers she made things happen! Buechler just thought I was the best choice for the job. I did a screen test and was able to secure the role! Based on that performance, each director for the next three movies after that one wanted me to play the part.
Shock: Were you familiar with the films before you were cast?
Hodder: Oh yeah, absolutely. I’ve always been a fan of that character and loved horror anyway..
Shock: You must have been pumped!
Hodder: Are you kidding me? When I realised I was gonna be wearing the hockey mask that I’d been watching…I considered it an enormous honour and still do.
Shock: You’re the guy considered to be the ‘real’ Jason.
Hodder: Well, that’s what people seem to think. Obviously it’s hard to dispute that I did it four times and nobody else did it more than once. I guess based on that, I guess I would be considered more the character. Also most fans that talk to me say that just the performance so was over and above what other people had done. That’s not me talking, that’s other people telling me, so..
Shock: Did the direction for playing Jason differ much over the movies?
Hodder: The only person who gave me direction was Buechler. With specific movements and things like that it was a combination of my ideas and his interpretation that made it work and after that I think all the directors I worked pretty much thought ‘well he knows the character now’ for the most part would let me do what I thought was right. Of course they’d always have suggestions here and there but pretty much left it up to me to do what I thought was right with the character which was really, you know, for an actor, it’s fantastic.
Shock: You made an appearance as Jason on the Arsenio Hall show for ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’..
Hodder: Yes, I did! (Laughs) It was so much fun. I don’t know if I would do it again because I always took the character seriously and didn’t want to make the character too funny but at the same time they said, ‘All we’re gonna do is have Arsenio ask you questions and you’re gonna stay in character.’ It’s not funny at the expense of the character, you know what I mean? It’s not mocking the character but it’s done in a funny way where Jason is still Jason and somebody else is the funny one. Based on that I thought it was OK. It was alot of fun. He told me before we started shooting the show that he was quite nervous to be around me in the costume and he said ‘Please don’t fuck with me too much’. It was hard for me not to! Once somebody says please don’t fuck with me then that’s exactly what I’m gonna do! I didn’t do too much. At the end of that clip you can see that I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards me.He got quite nervous and backed away. He really wasn’t too comfortable with me as the character.
Shock: I always wondered this – were you ever given a real reason for not being asked back for ‘Freddy Vs Jason’?
Hodder: I was not. I was replaced and STILL to this day never given a reason why.
Shock: It didn’t make much sense..
Hodder: I don’t think it does! I mean, the fans kind of grew to know me as the character and now all of a sudden they put someone else in there for no reason. I think that whoever made the decision didn’t realise that horror fans would give a shit. Their contention when they made the decision, whoever it was, was that ‘well it’s a guy in a mask! Nobody’s really gonna care who it is..’ well, that’s what I’ve been told anyway..I think once they said ‘Wow, we didn’t realise that people would be upset..’ Then they put out a bunch of bogus reasons, like saying I asked for too much money which is asinine. I would have never done that – I never did that. I never jeopardised my playing the character by doing something stupid like that. I loved playing the character and I did it for whatever money they were going to pay. It made me mad when I heard reports that I asked for too much money because we didn’t even get to that point! I was given the script, I had a lunch meeting with an executive at New Line and I was told I was doing it! So it was even more confusing and frustrating when I get replaced after that happens! The they said ‘we wanted an actor with more expressive eyes..’ which was kind of ridiculous since Jason has only one eye and what people have always said about me is that I have expressive eyes!
Shock: Did you ever ask Robert Englund if he was given a reason?
Hodder: Yeah, I’ve asked and he was never given a reason either..I can only assume that it had something to do with it being shot in Vancouver and they used a Vancouver stuntman to play the character. I don’t know if that had something to do with it but I shot ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ in Vancouver and Jason X in Toronto! It’s not like that I had not shot in Canada before..I guess I’ll never know why and I guess I’ll just have to live with it. That’s how Hollywood can be sometimes.
Shock: Were you approached for the ‘Friday The 13th’ remake?
Hodder: Nope. They never did. I haven’t seen it but based on what I heard about it..Even as a horror fan, I don’t think it would have been the Jason I would have wanted to see, forgetting the fact that I played the character.. It was too different from what I was used to as a fan, so I never saw that one.
Shock: It wasn’t very good.
Hodder: I’m not disappointed to hear that! (Laughs)
Shock: How do you feel about new actors stepping into iconic roles?
Hodder: I wasn’t crazy about the fact that Robert was replaced. I mean, especially him! He was the only person to play the character! I was one of seven guys at the time..getting back to the’ Freddy Vs Jason’ thing, Robert put it in a way that I kind of agreed with –he thought that horror fans weren’t necessarily just waiting for ‘Freddy Vs Jason’, they were waiting for Englund Vs Hodder. That’s kind of nice to hear from the guy that played the other character. I think as a fan I feel the same way. Here’s the guy that has originated from and always played the Freddy character and here’s the guy that played Jason the most! That’s the battle I wanna see, really! I mean, yeah, when somebody has become known for playing a character..come up with another character, how’s that? Instead of taking someone else’s character and recasting, you know?
Shock: How did you approach playing Jason compared to Victor Crowley?
Hodder: Well, I approach it slightly differently. I mean they’re similar in alot of ways – they don’t speak, they have a big hideous make up face..What I wanted to do with Victor was make him similar to Jason but different..He’s a different kind of guy. He’s very violent and ruthless but I thought Victor should be a little more jumpy and unpredictable and twitchy, kind of fast, whereas I never saw Jason that way. With Victor I think it kind of works. As ludicrous as it is that Jason never runs and he still catches everyone, I just thought that was how the character should be. He’s just a little more unpredictable.
Shock: Do you still like the idea of playing Jason?
Hodder: I do. I always loved playing Jason because of the trademark mask, it will always be a highlight in my life but the Victor character is very cool. With this third movie that we shot it’s, believe it or not, more violent! Adam Green didn’t write hatchet, have it be successful and now say ‘Oh shit, now I gotta write a second one what do I do?’, he wrote the first one knowing he wasn’t going to tell the whole story until he did at least three of them! Now that may be a shooting for the stars kind of attitude but he turned out to be right. So it was easy for him to write the second and third one. They made this movie darker..and there are three moments in Hatchet 3 where the audience will be absolutely stunned. Its not because of a graphic kill, its more what you see on the screen. It’s hard to explain but its more of a story thing. Their jaws are gonna drop! I say this with complete conviction and I’m a horror fan – If I was watching this movie and I saw this come on the screen I would be absolutely astonished! There are three of those in this film. I can’t wait for audiences to see it!
Shock: Why do you think the Friday fan base has endured all these years?
Hodder: I think it’s a familiarity thing. People in a sick way sometimes kind of indentify with Jason. People just can’t wait for that hockey mask come on the screen and see what he’s gonna do next. I don’t know if it’ll ever die out. There’s a whole new generation of Jason fans now. Because it’s gone on for so long. That’s 32 years now from the time of the first movie. So basically there’s three generations of Jason fans. At a convention I’ll see a grandfather, his son and his grandson, all come having seen my movies and all want an autograph from Jason. That’s pretty cool to me to know that’s it’s endured for that long. You know, one day I always think in the back of my mind that I’d like to put on that hockey mask one last time, you know? But who knows. You never know.