Kane Hodder has killed more than 100 people…onscreen! Now, the stuntman-turned-actor who became a horror legend playing relentless killer and hockey mask aficionado Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th horror franchise is hoping to slay readers with his autobiography, Unmasked: The True Life Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer. We spoke with Hodder about the book, playing Jason, the real-life accident that changed his life, and his habit of peeing in costars’ dressing rooms…
Entertainment Weekly: You’re a big fellow and you describe yourself in Unmasked as “an a–hole with OCD.” My first question is, how can I avoid annoying you in the course of this interview?
Kane Hodder: [Laughs] It’s no problem. We’re not face to face, so we’re good.
Have you always enjoyed frightening people?
Oh, yes. And I still do, especially with Mike (Aloisi, Hodder’s Unmasked co-writer). To say it bluntly, I f— with him all the time, just because it’s fun. He’s kind of a milquetoast type of guy, so he’s easy to f— with.
Could you give an example?
Our first meeting ever, we met in Lake George in New York. We had a whole building to ourselves. I went to the restroom during our course of taping interviews. I came out of the restroom and heard him coming, so I hid in a stairwell and when he came out of the bathroom, I came rushing out, really low, barking and roaring like a dog. I believe he may have s— himself a little bit. It’s so funny to scare somebody like that. I guess I’m such an a—hole, I’ll do it first time I meet you. That’s how much I enjoy it.
You’ve played a lot of masked or disfigured killers: Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Victor Crowley in the Hatchet movies. How hard is it to breathe life into a role when no one can see your face?
That’s exactly the point. It’s so difficult to convey an intimidating presence when you can’t use your facial expressions or your voice. Playing Jason, my biggest focus was always to make everything look natural, with the walk, with the head turn, and everything. I never over-thought it. I just threw myself into the scene and did whatever felt natural.
So you just naturally have the body language of an unkillable psychopath?
Yes, of course! People say, how do you get into such a murderous, violent state so easily? And I always say — and I don’t say this as a joke — my normal personality is closer to that of a murderous psychopath than that of the average person. I really believe that. My trip to that demonic character is a shorter trip than other people would have to take. I’m not saying I’m a crazy maniac. But I’m closer to that than most people. [Laughs]
On the subject of being a crazy maniac, you reveal in Unmasked that you like to urinate in the dressing rooms of actors you’re about to kill onscreen. Which I’m fairly sure contravenes a number of health and safety regulations.
Oh, sure it does. And I’m overly concerned about that, I’m sure you understand.
More seriously, the book’s most heartbreaking chapters concern a fire stunt which went wrong early in your career and left you with burns over more than half your body. What was it like revisiting that period in your life?
Well, you know, with a traumatic injury like that, it never really leaves you. So talking about it again wasn’t that hard because it’s never that far away from me. Maybe some things I had not thought about for a while may have brought back a little bit of painful memories. But it’s nothing that ever really is gone. My sister always said that I should have written a book just about the burn injury because, she said, “in 20 years you’re going to forget a lot of things.” I always told her, “No, I won’t.” I’m just proud that I was able to overcome it. So, looking back isn’t so much sad as almost confirming: “You did a damn good job and you got through something that was horrific.” It’s almost energizing in a way.
You subsequently developed a form of post-traumatic stress disorder which meant you couldn’t be around family members unless they had just showered.
Probably the most devastating thing to me about the whole injury is the fact that it has caused me to lose touch with basically my entire family. And it kills me to know that. To carry the scars from the burn, and all the pain I went through, that’s one thing. But to lose your family as a result of something you cannot control, is just horrible. It’s hard to not — for lack of a better term — it’s hard to not hate yourself for letting that happen. But it’s beyond anything I can control. I have tried all kinds of therapies and everything else, but I don’t seem to be able to get over that. Looking back, it’s harder to get through than the pain, and that was unbelievably horrific. It’s a debilitating disorder that a lot of people either don’t believe exists or scoff at it: “Ah, come on, if you really wanted to get over it, you’d get over it.” Well, until you are actually in that position, you don’t realize how insidious it is.
After playing Jason in four Friday the 13th movies, you were let go without explanation just before shooting began on 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. Does that still rankle?
Oh, of course it does. I know things change, people change. But at least give me a reason. Even if don’t agree with it, give me a reason why you did that, and it’s a lot easier to handle. But to never be told why! It still stings, especially as I had already gotten the script for the movie, had already been told I was doing it. That makes it even worse. Nobody ever even called to say, “Look, we’re going with somebody else.” That’s a pretty hard thing to take in a character that I put my heart and soul into to make it interesting. Yeah, it’s always been hard to take. But even so, if it was ever offered to me again, I’d put that mask back on.
Presumably there must have been money men who thought, “Well, we can put a hockey mask on anyone.”
Yes, of course. I understand that there are people that think that. And I tend to think that was part of it. But honestly, I never made that much money playing the character. It wasn’t about that. I loved playing the character and I never would have jeopardized my chance of continuing by asking for too much money. Never.
You’re in a group called the Hollywood Ghost Hunters. How is the hunt going?
It’s good. Rick McCullum, the stuntman, he and I formed this group and invited a bunch of our horror friends to join and go ghost hunting. We’ve done it in quite a few places around the country and it’s going great. I personally don’t ever experience too much. Rick has experienced more than me. I don’t know if I’m unlucky or if I’m not receptive to them or what. I keep hoping for something major to happen.
Do you have those Ghostbusters boxes you can trap them in?
In Unmasked you mention that you once played a seven-feet-tall biomechanical werewolf in a film called Project: Metalbeast. Do you have a copy we could borrow? Because that sounds amazing.
[Laughs] You know, I just heard recently that it’s been rereleased with a different title. I can’t recall what the title is. But it was listed with me in the movie and I thought, I don’t remember doing a movie called that. Then I looked into it, and it was Project: Metalbeast.
I refuse to believe its new title can be better than Project: Metalbeast.
I might tend to agree with you there.
You can watch the blood-drenched, NSFW trailer for Unmasked below.