Man Behind The Hockey Mask
An Interview with Derek Mears, the new Jason
of Friday the 13th
the new Jason Voorhees was cast, I had particular reason
to be excited. I had known him for almost twenty years.
Mears stepping into an icon...
Mears was fresh out of high school when he joined ComedySportz,
a loose network of improvisational comedy franchises. That
was back in the early 90s, and our two cities (San Jose
and Bakersfield) would exchange teams.
bonded over both being Dereks, and long before the internet
and Hollywood zeal brought comic book fans into the main
stream, we had a great time comparing notes on our comics
college, Mears moved to Los Angeles, where he carved a niche
for himself as a stuntman with acting chops, and an ability
to bring life to heavy make-up prosthetics. He's been a
variety of creatures over the years, including for both
Men in Black movies and Jon Favreau's Zathura.
yet despite a skiill for monstrousness, he's an incredibly
talented comedian, actor and singer. You can check him out
sans make-up in this
video from Channel101.com,
a website featuring a lot of L.A. comedy minds (including
Jack Black and Drew Carey) throwing together low-budget
but entertaining pieces.
Comic-Con this past summer, the two of us finally got the
"official" go-ahead to talk -- and here's the
conversation. Later, Mears confided one other important
piece -- as a young kid, he used to dress up as Jason for
Halloween. So clearly, it's fate.
McCaw: What is going to be the difference between
you playing Jason and guys like Kane Hodder? What makes
you the Jason for the 21st Century?
Mears: Truthfully, you’d have to ask the
producers or other people. I just kind of, not to talk myself
up, but I just do my own thing. I’m really blown away
to be here. In no way can it be a comparison from actor
to actor. I
think it’s more a comparison of the writing of the
character this time around that Mark (Shannon) and Damien
(Swift) have written, it’s a fuller actual character,
not just a homicidal guy in a mask. You have different notes
to play. You have different ranges. You understand the extreme
torment the young child has gone through. And then you have
a complete flip, the other side of the emotional piano,
where there’s the intense kills, the anger, the pent-up
passion is released in a negative way.
to the other Jasons, I’m a big fan of the other Jasons.
I really wouldn’t compare from actor to actor.
McCaw: Okay…what makes you right for this
man looking for a mask...
Mears: What I’ve been told is that they’re
excited about my passion for the character. I make my living
doing acting, stunts and doing a lot of being comfortable
with creature prosthetics. And this character is a triangle
– has all three of that added into the character.
I think that’s why I got hired.
McCaw: What would your preferred method of dispatching
naked college girls in the woods be?
Mears: A note that says “do you want me to
kill you? Circle yes or no.”
no idea where that came from. Do you mean for me or for
McCaw: Whichever seems safer to answer.
Mears: There’s so many different ways…I
mean, he’s an angry cat.
McCaw: Let’s change that, then…what’s
your favorite method of dispatch that Jason has used?
Mears: Oh, man. The sleeping bag kill. Where he
picks her up – is that in 6 or 7? They’re going
to kill ME that I can’t remember – he slams
it against the tree over and over again. That’s so
great. I love that one.
McCaw: You’ve done stunts. You’ve been
movie monsters. And now I’m going to totally destroy
your reputation. You’re one of the nicest people I’ve
ever known in my life. And yet you’re always playing
the rapist, or the killer…
Mears: It’s true, it’s true.
McCaw: I’m afraid to show my daughter your
work because she’ll be traumatized, and I say, “no,
he’s mommy and daddy’s friend…he’s
Mears: It’s funny, because you and I know
each other from a background of…we started off doing
improv comedy together. It’s a big leap between the
McCaw: So when are you going to get the nice guy
role – or would you want to?
Mears: Totally. They’re just different aspects
of my personality. There’s a “hey, I love everybody…”
and have a good time playing with friends, and there’s
another side where you switch to fight mode, and I want
to rip everybody’s head off.
said it before, it’s the Swayze comment – (Patrick)
Swayze in Roadhouse – “you be nice until it’s
time not to be nice.”
McCaw: You’ve done a lot of work with (the
comedy website) Channel 101. Are you going to use this new
juice you have to help them?
Mears: Of course. That’s my family. I’ve
learned so much from Channel 101 that I’ve brought
to the industry with me as a learning ground. And it’s
just plain fun.
headshot...he is a nice guy, really.
have been shows where I’ve been, hey, here’s
a suggestion…if we shot it like this…and it’s
all from learning from 101. What Rob (Schrab) said in his
conception of 101 – so many people move to Hollywood
and wait to be creative. “Once I get my big deal for
my screenplay or my big Hollywood directing job…”
“everyone’s creative and that’s our job
as artists to create. Why are you waiting? Do it now. It
doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a huge
budget, just get it out there.”
has been really helpful with that. It’s been a great
McCaw: Are you with this role for the long haul,
assuming there’s a Friday the 13th Part 2?
Mears: Or a Saturday the 14th?
McCaw: If they remade that one, would you play
the Jeffrey Tambor character?
Mears: No. Noooooo. No.
McCaw: Seriously, we know Jason’s not a character
that – oh, even if he does die at the end of this
movie, he’ll be back.
Mears: If it’s a similar tone, if it’s
a similar character as it was in this one, I would love
to. But of course, that’s up to the producers, if
they want me back. If it’s this type of Jason, the
intelligence and the actual character, you could go places
with it. So yes, I would love to.
it was off to different places at the Con, but I thank Derek
for his time and await that nice guy role...