Interview: Kane Hodder Talks Stunt Work, Acting and His Career in HorrorSeptember 10, 2015
While in Toronto attending Fan Expo Canada, we had a chance to talk to actor Kane Hodder about his career that has include playing the iconic role of the killer Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise.
You started your career as a stuntman. Was that something that had always interested you in one way or another?
Well, I was kind of that kid in high school that used to like to do dangerous things to entertain my friends, and I mean really dangerous things. For instance, when I was eighteen I lived in the Marshall Islands and I went to Hawaii to play a high school basketball game. Some of my friends and I went to a hotel called the Ala Moana and went to the thirty fifth floor on the balcony and we’re all looking at the view, and I thought it would be fun to climb on the outside of the balcony, three hundred and fifty feet down, just to see their reaction.
When they started shitting themselves as I kept quickly letting go and then holding on again, I asked them ‘What’s the matter? Why are you nervous?’
It’s funny because I’m shooting a documentary about my life right now and I just came to Toronto from Hawaii and we went back to that same balcony. That kind of mentality, once I saw the stunt show at Universal, I realized that people get paid for doing this. I just liked the reaction on people’s faces but people make good money doing this and I started investigating it and said you know, that’s what I want to do for a living. It took eight years of starving to get into the Screen Actors Guild, because I couldn’t get any work it was a safety issue, but once it started happening I loved it and still love the action stuff but it nice to also do the dialogue.
Do you think the work that stuntmen and women do is more respected then when you first started?
Yeah, I think stunt people do get more respect now than we did thirty eight years ago. The frustrating thing is that there are still actors who will do an interview and take credit for something we’ve done. That will never end. It’s a frustrating part of the business where an interviewer on a talk show will say ‘So is it true you did your own stunts?’, and that may have meant that the actor did a fight scene, so they say they did their own stunts even though they didn’t do the high fall or the car crash or the fire scene but because they did the fight scene they say they did all their own stunts. Sure, they did do something but don’t take credit for something you didn’t do. They risk their lives to make your character look good so don’t take credit for it.
Did that naturally lead into acting for you or was acting something you had always thought about doing?
You know, I really never did. I would have been happy being a working stunt person. As a stunt person, you are sometimes asked to play small roles where you have one line before the good guy beats you up, so you gradually started doing a little bit of dialogue within the stunt role that you might have and if you enjoy that then you try and get more and more of that happening. Sometimes this can lead to you playing a lead character, which might take a while to happen, but it does happen and I’m a good example of that because I never expected that.
When the acting roles did begin to happen for you did you pursue parts in horror films or was that something that just happened to come your way?
I always enjoyed horror, both as a kid and as a young man. Then when I was doing stunts in horror movies and was lucky enough to get the role as Jason the first time then that’s when everything changed. Once you get known in horror then every small horror film wants you to be in their movie because your name is known in the horror genre and that helps sell the movie. Very often, if they’re smart, they will offer you different kind of roles which I personally love. When somebody offers me something that I’ve never done before, that’s what I’m looking for. I will always love playing the bad guy but when somebody had confidence in my work to say ‘You know what? I’d like you to play this guy and he’s kind of funny, what do you think about that?’ Well I love it and its just increased steadily every year.
When you take on a role such as Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th or Victor Crowley from Hatchet, is it more physical or intimidation or even a combination of both?
It’s definitely a combination. Without a doubt there is physical preparation involved, just because of the nature of the role and what’s involved, but I also like to do certain things to prepare my mindset. I have methods with certain thing, like if I’m playing the main bad guy I don’t typically socialize with the other actors on the set. When it comes time for me to do their violent death scene, they want to be uneasy with me, it helps their performance and it helps mine knowing that they’re that way. I’ll sometimes, even to entertain myself, do crazy things on the set when they don’t think I know they’re watching me. I’ll do something like smash my head on a wall before we do the violent scene and they’ll be like ‘What? We’re about to do this scene and he’s over there banging his head against a wall?’ For me, I’m just doing it for them, it’s entertaining to me. When you wear a lot of makeup you have to do things to entertain yourself and I entertain myself a lot, at their expense.
When did you realize that the character of Jason, and maybe the hockey mask together, had become such an iconic figure in horror?
By the third movie, with Jason now wearing the hockey mask, I knew it was an image that would last forever. It still seems amazing to me that I played the character, to be honest. I remember back to when I watched the character as a fan, never once dreaming that I would do it one day. That’s why that first day on the set, putting that mask on, it felt like this was the biggest honor I could have achieved.
Why do you think the horror fan has such a connection with the character of Jason?
You know, I don’t really know. First of all horror fans are loyal like you would not believe, like when I was replaced as Jason, not wanting to be and unceremoniously replaced, then the fans were in an uproar. It was great because it made me realize I wasn’t the only one upset by this so it was kind of nice to hear that. Once these fans like a character they want to see more of what this character can do so they’ll follow, it doesn’t matter how many movies it is, they’ll keep coming back and checking it out which is good, that’s why I wouldn’t mind doing one more Friday the 13th movie and one more Hatchet movie. Who knows, maybe in the same movie, playing both characters? (Laughs)
What made you decide to do the book Unmasked?
You know, I was asked to tell my story because I have a lot of interesting aspects of my life so I thought ok, not really thinking that I was going to tell everything. However, once I started telling my story as a kid and stuff I thought I might as well tell everything that happened to me, even if it wasn’t good. Most actors are too insecure to say things that make them sound weak and I thought if I’m going to tell my story I’m going to tell my entire story. If people like it great, if they don’t that’s ok, it’s my story and so I talked about everything and without fail those are the things that I get the most response from, the difficult subject matter.
So what are you working on now and what’s coming up for you in the future?
Several movies are coming out that I’m very happy with. One is Love in the Time of Monsters, I play a funny character, it is a comedy about Bigfoot. Almost Mercy, which is a very dark movie but I’m funny in it as well. Charlie’s Farm, I’m not funny in that but I get killed. I’m doing one in England next month called Shed of the Dead and a big one with John Schneider that he wrote and directed called Smothered. That one is a comedy also and has a whole bunch of my friends in it, Bill Mosley, R. A Mihailoff, Don Shanks and several others, and we play ourselves getting killed off by a serial killer but in a lighthearted kind of way. Schneider is brilliant, I used to work with him back in the day on Dukes of Hazard. He didn’t know me but it was fun to work with him in that capacity.
You can see Kane Hodder next in the movie Old 37, which arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD October 6, 2015 from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Epic Pictures.
For more information about OLD 37, please visit www.OLD37TheMovie.com