Taking part in a conference call to promote the Michael Bay-produced Friday the 13th “reimagining”, Texas-born actor Jared Padalecki proved to be a genuinely down-to-earth interviewee, effortlessly funny and filled with cheerful enthusiasm. A veteran of television, having starred on both The Gilmore Girls and the Vancouver-shot hit series Supernatural, the actor was eager to communicate his excitement over the highly anticipated Slasher film project, as well as to tell some amusing anecdotes regarding on-set hijinx and surreal shooting situations. Unfortunately for Mr. Padalecki, however, the topic of conversation often tended to shift away from the affable young man on the phone, and over to the hockey mask-wearing, machete-wielding white elephant in the room: the unstoppable, immortal horror icon Jason Voorhees.
So how does this Friday the 13th film differentiate itself from the eleven previous films in the series?Well, Jason got a little cheesy towards the end of [the latter instalments], I mean it was like “Jason Goes to the Moon”, “Jason Shops at Target”, "Jason and the Muppets"... What started out kind of scary became cheesy and campy... Which is fine, I mean that has its time and place, but I don’t think that kind of place is with Jason Voorhees and Camp Crystal Lake, you know?
The guys who put together the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and The Amityville Horror remake, they’re also behind [this film], and if you see any of those you see how they’re kind of new and hip and scary.
Despite being positioned as a remake, this Friday is completely unlike the 1980 original, based on Jason’s presence alone.
This is totally a reinterpretation! And not just of the original, but of the whole franchise. I think the writers have done a great job with paying homage not just to the first [film], but also to some of the ones in the middle as well. I mean, the original, with the mom being the killer and Jason just being a little boy, is not as scary to me. In my opinion, people go to see Friday the 13th movies to see Jason! You don’t want Jason to be some punk little kid! And you don’t want the killer to be Pamela Voorhees!
Our Jason, played by Derek Mears, is fit and capable, and he feels like a guy who could’ve survived in the woods for however many years. He’s like a pitbull with a machete, chasing you down so you feel like there’s no escape!
Is he Jason 24/7, even off-camera?No, not at all! In fact, one scene we were filming on top of a bus, we had a fight, and I don’t know what happened, like the camera got messed up or I missed a line, and so in the middle of the take we just started dancing. It was like 5 in the morning, and I’m all beat up and having a dance-a-thon with Jason Voorhees on top of an over-turned bus!
Have you seen the finished film yet?
Actually, I saw twenty minutes of it...
How was it?It was bad-ass, it’s amazing! And I’m not even saying that because I’m in the movie! I had a smile on my face the whole time. It’s better than it needs to be, I think, [and the movie] looks beautiful. It’s scary, it’s loud, it’s abrupt! The sound effects, the special effects, the gore and everything!
Now you’ve done a number of projects involving the horrific and frightening, ranging from TV’s Supernatural to the film House of Wax. Is there anything challenging that draws you to these types of roles?No, I mean there’s definitely a technique to acting scared because, you know, they’re about to role camera and they’re like “Okay, you’re running from Jason, you’re fighting Jason!” And then as they start rolling film your hair-stylist comes up and fixes your hair... So definitely it’s hard to be scared, but luckily one of the greatest things about acting in this genre is that my acting has very little to do with makes the movie scary.
Once I do my work, then that’s when the magic happens. They add sound effects and jump-cuts and weird point-of-view shots where somebody’s spying on me, [which] makes it exciting to watch because there’s so much done after my work is [finished] that I feel like an audience member!
So, was there any competition between you and your Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles (who recently headlined My Bloody Valentine 3-D) over who could make the better Slasher film?
There is no competition. We are actually pretty close buddies man, we get along really well. We’ve worked together for years now. We actually live in the same house up in Canada where we shoot, so it’s nice man. And I think we both know we’re not in competition with each other. It’s like, it’s good to know a guy that’s happy for my success and vice versa. That’s cheesy, I’m like the Brady Bunch, but it’s cool, man. He’s a Texas
boy and I’m a Texas boy, and its not like the L.A. bullshit of “I want what you have and what can you do for me?” It’s like “You go get yours, I’ll get mine, and that’s fine!”
So how did you prepare for this particular film? I actually filmed Supernatural until April 28th, and [then] filmed Friday the 13th on April 29th, so there was no time to changeover. So what I do, when I’m preparing for a role, is try to familiarize myself with the script as much as possible and try and get some idea about what the director is doing, what the editors are gonna do, and what kind of movie they’re making.
Had you seen all of the previous Friday’s?I haven’t seen all of them. I guess I’ve seen one through four, and the last one; Freddy Vs. Jason.
Did you do any stunts?I did some of the fight scenes, but I also had a stunt man to do everything. I think I heard Harrison Ford say one time “I don’t do stunts. I run, jump and fall.” I guess that’s how I feel.
What was the most enjoyable part of being in this movie?I get to go head-to-head with Jason... More than once! So that was really cool, having grown up watching those movies, and watching Jason Voorhees, and never thinking I’d ever be a part of it.
Why do you think Jason is such a lasting character?
Yeah, he’s been around for a long time. I think with any villain, and with any of these iconic movies, I think the villain is such a huge part. But what makes Jason so exciting to me is the mask. I mean, with Freddy it’s kinda, like, corny. Like “I’m gonna be in your dreams!”. [Jason] doesn’t have to do any cheesy one-liners, you don’t have to hear him talk, you don’t have to see his face... It’s just this huge guy that lives in the woods, which is scary enough, and you don’t feel that you can reason with him. You can’t go, like, “Well I’ll just stay awake!” or “Maybe I can talk him down from the ledge...” It just feels like he’s big and he’s bad and there’s just no escape.
Would you like to be Jason one day?I thought I would like to be, but seeing what Derek had to do, and what he had to go through, I don’t think I would like to be... I’ll just leave it to the professionals and [...] enjoy it from the other side.
If you could be murdered by Jason, how would you like it done?With a machete, man! Machete through the head would be the way I wouldn’t mind [going out]!
*Originally printed in SFU's The Peak: Feb. 16th, 2009.