Superstitious people beware: Friday the 13th is upon us, and to make the day some already dread just a little creepier, the remake of the iconic horror film of the same name will be premiering that night. North by Northwestern had a chance to talk to one of the film’s stars, Jared Padalecki, in a conference call that covered everything from classic horror to — a little morbidly — how he might want to die.
As a spin-off, how do you think the new Friday the 13th will separate itself from the rest?
Well, Jason got a little… cheesy, toward the number 12 of his installments. I mean, it was like “Jason Goes to the Moon,” “Jason Shops at Target,” “Jason and the Muppets.” What started out kind of scary and like a horror movie ends up getting really cheesy and campy. Which is fine — that has it’s time and place, but I don’t think that time and place is with Jason Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake. So the guys who put together the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and the Amityville Horror remake and the Hitcher remake, they’re also behind the Friday the 13th remake. So if you see any of those, you see how they’re kind of new and sexy and hip and scary, but they still pay homage to the originals. That’s what they’ve done, from what I can tell; I know they were trying to. The word on the street is that they’ve done it really well and made it for a new generation.
The guys who wrote this film also wrote Freddy vs. Jason and they seem like fanboys. Is this a fanboy film that puts the original in the context of the rest of the series?
I don’t think it’s a fanboy film necessarily. Obviously the writers, like you said, are familiar with the character, are familiar with the franchise and the story, and in the first one the villain is the mother and the kid’s like some six-year-old dude who jumps out of the water at the very end. Then Jason becomes a lumbering, not really scary guy. It’s like, “Ah, that fat dude? I could just run away from him, he’s not gonna catch me.” But our Jason, played by Derek Mears, is like fit and capable and he feels like a guy who could have survived in the woods for however many years. He’s like a pit bull with a machete chasing you down, so you just feel like there’s no escape. It certainly pays its respects to the franchise, but we definitely were trying to make a new movie. So the most accurate way I think I’ve heard it described is a “re-imagining” of Jason Voorhees and Friday the 13th.
What did you do to prepare for your role, and how hard was it to pretend to be scared when you already knew what was happening?
Well for my role, I actually filmed Supernatural until April 28 and I filmed Friday the 13th on April 29, so there was really no time to change over. So what I do, when I’m preparing for a role, I just really try to familiarize myself with the script as much as possible and try to get some idea of what the director’s doing and what the editors are going to do and what kind of movie they’re making. I don’t want to play it cheesy and campy and then everybody else play it real. I want to know what movie I’m making, what story I’m a part of. It was really important to me because what I really liked about the Texas Chainsaw remake and Amityville and Hitcher was that, as wacky as the stories were, they were based in reality. The tried to make like a scary documentary, not just like, “Hey, we’re watching a horror movie.” So I really just tried play the reality of the moment and just make my character as real as possible.
Is Derek Mears a method actor? Is he Jason off screen?
No. Not at all. In fact, one scene we were filming on top of a bus we had a fight and I don’t remember what happened, the camera messed up or I missed a line, and so kind of in the middle of the take before they even called cut we just started dancing. It was like five in the morning and I was all beat up and I was like, “I’m having a danceathon with Jason Voorhees on top of an overturned bus.”
What was it like working with the rest of the cast?
It was really fun. It was kind of a young, hip cast and everybody had a lot of different things to offer, different backgrounds. It was nice and everybody was having a good time and we were in awesome Texas. One of the important things about this movie is the actors — we all felt equally a part. It wasn’t like this guy’s the lead and this guy’s the tenth lead. It was like hey, we’re all the lead and we all have to carry this boat, help this movie remain real. Because if one guy or one girl does a crappy job then you’re like “Ahh, I’m watching a crappy horror movie.”
What was the most enjoyable part of being in this movie?
I was a fan of the movie, I’m a fan of the franchise, I’m a fan of the genre. For me, my role specifically, I get to go head-to-head with Jason more than once. It was really cool having grown up watching this movie and watching Jason Voorhees and never thinking you’ll be part of it until all of the sudden there you are on set, fighting Jason.
There’s a lot of buzz about the death scenes in the film. Do you have a personal favorite?
My favorite, without giving too much away, is when Jason kills a police officer. Whenever anybody knocks on a door or rings a door bell, for whatever reason you always approach the little eye hole with trepidation. There’s always a wonder of what’s behind that door. So in the movie, I go to answer the door and I see Jason pop up behind the police officer and shove a fireplace poker through his head, through the door.
You’ve been in a lot of movies in the horror genre, is there anything you find particularly exciting or challenging about making horror movies?
No. I mean, there’s definitely a technique to acting scared because they’re about to roll camera and you’re supposed to be running from Jason and as they’re about to roll film, your hair stylist comes up and fixes your hair and your make up artist comes over and covers up a zit on your forehead. So it’s hard to be scared. One good thing about acting in this genre is that my acting has very little to do with what makes the movie scary. I’m there and I’m well-lit and I have make up on and people are getting paid to bring me coffee and it’s pretty posh job, but then once I do my work, then that’s where the magic happens… there’s so much done after my work is done that I feel like an audience member when I’m watching it.
How do you find acting in film is compared to TV?
I prefer working in film. You get more time to devote to your character. I fly to Vancouver tomorrow to shoot Supernatural and I have no idea what I’m shooting tomorrow. I haven’t seen the script… with film, I got this script in February, I didn’t shoot it until the end of April, so I had time to familiarize myself with the character and get some idea of what I wanted to do. Also, with film, there’s a definite start and a definite stop. With TV, there comes a time where you’re like, “I have to go on autopilot right now” because you’re doing it for nine months. With film, you can go pedal-to-the-metal the whole time.
What’s it like filming a death scene?
That’s a trick question so I’ll move on to the next one. I’m smarter than the average bear, brother.
What makes Jason so un-killable as a character?
I think with any of these iconic movies the villain is such a huge part and for me, what makes Jason so exciting is the mask and the size. He does have any cheesy one-liners. He doesn’t talk. You don’t see his face. He’s just this huge guy who lives in the woods — which is scary enough — and you don’t feel like you can reason with him.
Would you like to play Jason?
You know, I thought I would like to, but seeing what Derek went through, I don’t think I would like to be.
If you could be murdered by Jason Voorhees, how would you prefer he do it?
Machete, man. That mug’s gotta machete me. You want the icon to kill you, he’s gotta be in his mask and he’s gotta have his machete and I think machete to the head would probably be a way I wouldn’t mind.