Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kane Hodder: 'Friday the 13th's Jason on acting, ghost hunting

BY AARON SAGERS

Despite being 6-foot-3, and having been in show business for three decades, most casual audiences wouldn’t recognize
Kane Hodder, but they know his work. The stuntman and actor has appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows, and has left a mark on popular culture – and more often than not, it has been a big, bloody mark.

Although he has worked on blockbuster thrillers (
Se7en), super hero flicks (Daredevil) and Oscar-winning films (Monster), Hodder’s most enduring legacy is his time behind a hockey mask hacking through fornicating teens.

He portrayed killer Jason Voorhees in the classic slasher flicks
Friday the 13th, parts seven, eight, nine and 10, and is the only actor to play the undead, deformed maniac more than once. More recently, the actor’s role in the Hatchet films - as Victor Crowley, another undead, deformed maniac– has allowed Hodder to originate his own character in a cult franchise, the third entry of which was just greenlit in March. The result is a spot in the pantheon of actors who repeatedly left their mark on horror, alongside Robert Englund, Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Perkins.

But what’s a guy to do after making a killing in Hollywood? Hunt for ghosts, naturally.


While filming the 2006 supernatural horror film
Fallen Angels at the reportedly haunted Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Hodder and fellow stuntmen Rick McCallum (Hatchet, The Devil’s Rejects) and R.A. Milhailoff (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Hatchet II) – all of whom who potrayed demons in the movie - decided to form the Hollywood Ghost Hunters paranormal investigative group. The team appeared on a January 2011 episode of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and also organize events where fans and amateur investigators can join the hunt. Like other ghostbusters, Hodder’s crew ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but as “horror film professionals stalking the supernatural,” the ghosts may just be afraid of them.

On June 10-11, 2011, Hodder will get a chance to spook the spooks at
Rolling Hills Asylum (www.rollinghillsasylum.com) in East Bethany, N.Y., where he’ll be leading ticketed investigators through the famous haunted site, which has been featured on numerous paranormal programs.

A big, grizzled dude with intense eyes who looks too comfortable wielding a machete or with his hands around someone’s neck, Hodder is actually a likable man who’s just hacking and strangling for a scene or fan photo, and joined us to talk about his upcoming investigation and his work in the entertainment industry.


ON HORROR

Q: To begin with, you starred in a movie called The Rapture and May 21 was supposed to be Rapture Day. So what did you do on the possible Rapture Day? Were you concerned and afraid of not possibly floating up to Heaven? 

A: No, of course not. There's a couple of things. First of all, I think it's very funny when people predict the end of the world. I think it's ridiculous and you know, I laugh about it. And then, at the same time, I know based on the way I live my life and the work I've done, that I wouldn't go to Heaven anyway. I'm already resigned to going to Hell, so it doesn't matter when.

Q: Speaking of your work, you’ve had a lot of onscreen kills. What number are we at now?

A: Coincidentally, my biography (KILL!: The True Story of the World’s Most Prolific, Cinematic Killer) comes out Oct. 1 and we document the first 100 kills. These are one-at-a-time, hands-on kills, not like somebody gunned down 30 people with a machine gun. This is one-by-one-by-one. But it's up to 140 or so.

Q: You've been a busy boy. 

A: That's a lot of killing when it's one-by-one, and the first 100 are just eight movies. So that's a pretty good average, I think.

Q: You've been asked this question a lot and it might change over time, but what you favorite kill?

Hodder in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
A: For years and years, my favorite kill was the “sleeping bag” in Friday the 13th, Part VII, just because I killed somebody with something that isn't even a weapon. For the creativity of it, that was always my number one kill. Once I did the first Hatchet, that kill dropped down to number two. In the first Hatchet movie, I grab a woman and rip her head apart by her jaw. That is now my favorite all-time kill.

Q: Speaking of Hatchet, it has a cult following. The Victor Crowley character is very popular for horror movie fans. Have you noticed any kind of shift where people are starting to think of you more as Victor Crowley than Jason?

A: Well, I wouldn't say necessarily more, but after we did the second Hatchet movie, I think it's pretty well equal now between Jason fans/Victor fans, or Jason questions and Victor questions. Which is great because I love the Victor character, too. People already know that I always loved playing Jason. I never wanted to stop. But with Victor, I played the character from its inception. Instead of taking over from six different guys that had played the role before me, once each. You know, that's a little trickier. But when you devote a character from the beginning, it's really rewarding to be able to do that and it's nice. Even though I think I developed my own type of Jason, I didn't originate him. It's nice to originate a character.

Q: So are you going to come back as Victor Crowley in Hatchet III, and maybe number part four?

A: I believe so, yes. If it has anything to do with me, yes. I will be back. I love the character, and now I've done it two separate movies; it would drive me crazy to have somebody else play the character again. Yes, I would do it and I would hope Danielle Harris continues in three and possibly four, too, because we are very good friends. We've done a lot of stuff together. She's a tremendous actress and I think we could make another really good movie.

Q: If you come back for two more, this is suddenly going a section on your resume where you created a character, saw it through to the end of the series – and it will match the number of Friday movies you’ve done.

A: Right. If I could do equal the amount of movies that I did as Jason, and knowing I'm the only person to play the character, that would pretty much override the Jason stuff. Although I will never be ashamed that I played Jason; I'll always be proud of it, and always be very thankful because I realize how lucky I was to play that character. As most of these other guys do, too, to have played a character that is known all around the world. I fully understand how lucky I was.

Q: If there was another Friday the 13th movie and they approached you, would you ever want to go back to it? Or do you just feel like that's a chapter in your life that you are ready to close?

A: Oh no, I'm not ready to close it. I would definitely put that fucking hockey mask back on and rip some people up. I always loved it and never wanted to quit. If for some reason, I did have the opportunity again, I would bury the hatchet so to speak and just play the character again. I think I got a pretty raw deal on the whole thing but it would be more important for me to play the character again than have an ego about it, you know.

Q: You do so many conventions and then you go to paranormal events, what is the question that you get asked the most?

A: Oh there are several that are so common and that are so you know, obvious, but basically, “Did you like playing the character?,” whether it be Jason or Victor. Also: “Was it hard playing the character.” I don't think anyone understands how difficult it is to do physical things in that make-up. And, coincidentally, “If you had the chance to play Jason again, would you?” I don't mind answering it because if the right person hears it one day, maybe I will.

ON ACTING

Q: Is there a question that you never get asked that you wish one day someone would throw it at you?

A: Well, there's one that I don't particularly want to have asked but I'm surprised no one has asked: “How do you take a shit when you are wearing that make up, when it's a full body suit?” The answer is: You don't, because you have to take the entire thing off to do it.

Q: Well, I guess that leads to better growling, right?

A: Yeah, it does. More anger for sure. “Are you ever going to get the girl?” That's another good question.

Q: Will you?

A: I doubt it. Although in other characters, I have had love scenes and sex scenes. I mean, I had a sex scene in Hatchet II. I actually had my first kissing scene in a movie that isn't out yet, called Exit 33. Maybe things are turning around that maybe I'll be able to play some characters that aren't necessarily so horrible - although I'll always love playing those. It is nice to try a challenge of something else. I mean, [Hatchet director] Adam Green has me dancing in a movie called, Chillerama. I did a movie called The Afflicted with Leslie Easterbrook, and I play an abused husband, which was very cool. And I just finished, just as of last month, a movie called Tag. Believe it or not, I play a bisexual sadist who gets the tables turned on him by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the actor who played McLovin. We have a very, very tense, almost like sexually-tense scene together. His character is posing as a male prostitute and I pick him up in an alley and it's pretty creepy scene. He turns the tables on me and I get the worst of it. It is interesting playing characters like that and I'm having a meeting today with a director on doing a comedy. I will never move away from playing the bad guy because I will always love it, but it's  fun to do something else from time to time as well.

Q: As an actor, you are craving new roles where you are able to stretch out a little bit?

A: Yeah, any actor would. Like I said, I don't want to move away from the characters that I can play in my sleep. I can play the brutal character and the scary guy pretty easily. I will always love it. I'm just saying it's nice to have the challenge of something that you never expected to do. Because I went into this business to be a stuntman, I never expected to be an actor; I just got lucky and started getting opportunities and was able to pull it off, I guess.

Q: Speaking of stunt work, it’s not as if you ever stopped doing stunts just because you started acting. Was there ever a time when you’d walk on the set to do some stunts, and you find yourself being recognized as the actor?

A: Normally, if I'm going to be a stunt person on a feature, then I almost always end up being cast in a role before we ever start. Because it makes sense. You've got the stunt coordinator there every day, so you might as well utilize him in a character. In features, I don't really come across as a surprise with other actors but on TV stuff, I do. For instance, I've done several episodes of the show Chuck. I went in to just do some stunt things, just a little stunt role on an episode and realized that the main bad guy was being played by Lou Ferrigno. He and I are friends just from conventions and actually, I used to be one of the stunt men on The Incredible Hulk TV show. I've known Lou since the early ’80s and I didn't know he was playing a part because I was just called in to do some stunts. He didn't know I was coming in, and so that was kind of a surprise. And Zack Levi and I have become friends and we've done a movie together since then.

Q: Any times when others knew who you are, but maybe the “celebrity” doesn’t?

A: Every once in a while I'll go and just be an “ND,” what they call a Non-Descript stunt man and I'll come across some actors I've known in the past and were kind of surprised to see me. In fact, I'll give you a good story. It doesn't happen much, but it does happen from time to time. I was one of the stunt men on a movie called Under Siege and we were shooting on a battleship down in Mobile, Ala. I was working with Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey. I was just one of the stunt guys on the movie for about three weeks, and there were some visitors, some kids - like a boy scout group or something that came on the ship to visit the set. One of them recognized me from the Jason stuff and asked me to sign something. I didn't want to seem like an asshole; he had a piece of wood he was carrying around and so I signed it for him. That's the least I could do. He knew me from the Jason stuff. I signed it. Then, maybe half an hour later, I was looking and the kids were all talking to Seagal and I saw the kid give Segal the piece of wood to sign also. Seagal took it and looked at it and said, “Who the fuck is Kane Hodder?” I heard him say it, and now I'm going to get fired because I'm signing an autograph on his movie! But nothing became of it. It was just funny to see him do that.

Q: That is funny. After that, did you guys get along or was there just not any interaction with Seagal?

A: I've done three movies with him. That was the second one, actually. I've done Out For Justice and I did Fire Down Below after that. So we got along fine. I fought with him quite a bit in different scenes. He's a little more for the realism than I am even. I think you have to have some realism in the scenes to make them look authentic, but he wants even more so sometimes it gets a little rough.

Q: Speaking of getting rough, you suffered some burn injuries as a result of some stunt work. How did that impact what you would do for the job?

A: There's nothing I avoid except horses. I still do a lot of fire stunts. By the way, I'm not sure how that information became known on the Web, but I got burned in 1977. On July 13th. I know it says on IMDB I was burned in the early ’80s but it was 1977. It was  my first year in stunts, actually. So it wasn’t a great way to start my career. I did avoid fire stunts for a little while but then I thought, what the fuck, you know, get back on the horse, like they say. They I ended up kind of specializing in fire after that. I've never had an incident with fire ever since because I learned so much on that bad one. The only thing I avoid doing is horses because I never really learned how to ride a horse well so I leave it up to the cowboy stunt guys.

Q: Any movies in your career that you wish you could take back?

A: I've done some movies that ended up not being very well received but I would never say, “I wish I never did it.” Every single movie I've ever done, whether it be big budget, small budget, I've always enjoyed it because of what I did in the movie. Whether it be a cool stunt or whatever. I think it's kind of shitty for people to say, “I wish I never did that movie.” You know, fuck you. You should have known that ahead of time. If you knew that it was a small movie, don't do it then if you're going to have a problem with it. I'll never be embarrassed of anything I've done. In fact, with the characters I think are the most embarrassing I've played, I'll be the first one to tell people that they can get a good laugh out of it. Like a movie called, Hardbodies. I played a ridiculous character that's embarrassing as hell, but hey, that's part of your process of expanding your career. You do some things that you look at and say, “Oh my God, that's embarrassing. You've got to see this.” If you have any confidence in yourself, you make sure people know that.

Q: Give me an example of a movie you’re proudest of.

A: One of the movies I'm the proudest about doing the stunts in was Monster with Charlize Theron. She won an Oscar for it. I was the stunt coordinator on it and I also played the cop that arrested her at the end of the movie. I'm really proud of that because it is so well done and I think the action is good. There wasn't that much of it but what there is, I think was pretty, pretty well done and pretty scary. That's the movie I learned the most about acting. I have never been trained as an actor in any class or in any school or anything like that, but if I can pull off any kind of acting talent, it's because of watching people like Charlize Theron. I watched her for six weeks, every day - how she prepared and how she got to certain places. That's the best training an actor can have: observing. 

Q: If I remember correctly, Monster came out in 2003. So we're talking about a couple of decades into your career is when you learned the most about acting? 

A: Oh, for sure, for sure. Even watching other actors, too, but that's the one that stands out the most. I didn't have all that much action to do so I could really sit and watch her work. And it was just invaluable.

ON PARANORMAL INVESTIGATING

Q: What’s the real story with how Hollywood Ghost Hunters was founded? I've heard it emerged while filming at Mansfield Reformatory.

Hodder with McCallum
A: Yes, with my buddy Rick. Rick McCallum and I were doing a movie called Fallen Angels there and we would have the entire facility to ourselves for the movie. Whenever Rick and I had a chance, we'd go investigate wherever there weren't people, and there was only probably 25 of us in the whole place. It's a big facility, and if you're shooting on one end of the cell block, you could go on the other side and not even know anyone was in there. We just realized, at that time, that each of us was so much into the paranormal and ghost hunting. That's when Rick thought it was a good idea we form a group. Having a group of ghost hunters that are all involved with horror movies in some way or another is kind of a cool group because we're all used to being the ones to scare people - and now we're going out there to become scared ourselves. Also, we know all the tricks to making something look real when it isn't. There's nothing that can be staged that we wouldn't see through, you know.

Q: The story is that you saw a shadow person at Mansfield. Was that your paranormal experience?

A: I've always been interested myself but never, even to this day, haven't encountered or seen something that is so incredibly paranormal that it freaks me out. I always tend to explain things away scientifically. I'm a skeptic but I'm an open-minded skeptic. I think a lot of ghost investigators tend to get carried away with the smallest things wanting it to be paranormal and making it into more than it really is. I just am very aware that I don't want to do that. So I'm very objective about everything. But my interest in the paranormal goes back to when I was a kid -which is the same with Rick. It's just that we never had the opportunity to investigate something so completely as we did with Mansfield and that's when we really got started.


Q: Has there been any activity on other sets you’ve worked on?

A: I've heard of activity on other sets. Rick and I shooting a movie at a studio and he did some investigating and encountered some things. He's one of those guys that a lot of stuff happens to. I'm not sure if he makes too much out of things or if he's just one of those guys that attracts the spirits - which I guess I've heard could be possible. I have really never seen anything on a set. Other actors I've worked with have told me stuff. Danielle Harris, who is also in our group, tells me all kinds of stories that happen to her in her apartment.

Q: And you’re hosting an event Rolling Hills on June 10-11. So what’s the appeal of the location? 

A: I have not been there before. I'm not doing it to try and make some money or whatever; I've always heard good things about Rolling Hill so I welcome the opportunity to do a ghost hunt there and I'm very excited about it.

Q: When speak to your investigators at Rolling Hills, what are the main tips you try to pass along?

A: One main thing for me is for that I believe - and I think you probably will too if you are skeptical: I believe the power of suggestion is huge within ghost hunting. What I try and ask people to do is if they see something or hear something, do not specify what it is they saw or heard. I would rather have someone say, “Did you just see that?” and then have somebody else say, “Yes, I did. I saw this.” Then let’s see if it matches what the first person saw. So many times I've seen somebody say, “Did you just see that shape go across the hall real low?” and then because somebody has suggested that, other people think they saw it. The power of suggestion is huge, which is why in police work, when a crowd or several people witness a crime, they will try to spread those people out immediately. If one person says, “This is what the person looked like,” it will suggest that in the mind of other people and they will agree with it without even realizing that's not what they thought they saw … That's the biggest habit I want people to break themselves of. Don't say what you saw. Even write it down before you talk to each other and then compare it. Then, to me, that's more meaningful.

Q: With your own investigative style, do you prefer your own instincts or technology and gadgets?

A: I like a combination of both. I may think I hear or see something, but if it's corroborated with technology, that's the best of all possible worlds. I like both. You know, I've never been a big fan of the EMF meters or never was much of a fan of the voice recordings. But then when I caught that one during the Ghost Adventures episode, it was the only one that's ever been convincingly clear to me what someone was saying. I am such a skeptic that if I had heard that recording that somebody else said they were holding the recorder, I would have sworn somebody whispered into it.

Q: And what else can we look forward to from you?

A: I've done several movies that are going to come out. The book is my main focus right now; Adam Green read the manuscript and wrote a foreword. He was absolutely was floored by the material because it's a very honest book. It's not a resume of work history. It goes into my childhood, getting beat up. Also the burn injury, and all the struggling and personal issues that go along with that. A lot of stories are in the book that I've never told anyone before. I do have to go back to Germany to finish a Robin Hood movie that I started shooting before Christmas before the weather got too severe. It's Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood. I'm playing Little John and it's kind of a horror version of Robin Hood. The Sheriff of Nottingham is played by Tom Savini. Hatchet III is coming up later in the year. But I'm really looking forward to Rolling Hills. Anytime I get a chance to investigate a property that I've never been to, I'm all for it. The venue is great. I think we're going to have a good time.

KANE HODDER’S investigation of Rolling Hills is June 10-11. Tickets are $109 and include a meet-and-greet with Hodder, a lecture, tour and auction. They can be purchased at www.rollinghillsasylum.com

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