Today is the birthday of horror legend Kane Hodder, best known for his portrayal of Jason Voorhees in four films from the Friday the 13th film series (films 7-10). He also helped create another iconic horror villain, starring as swamp killer Victor Crowley in all three films of Adam Green’s brilliant Hatchet series. Besides being a seasoned actor, Hodder is an accomplished stuntman. He took on the role of yet another legendary masked killer, portraying Leatherface during the stunts of Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.
One of our favorite recent performances from Hodder was the late 2015 independent horror film Old 37 (review here), in which Kane plays one of two brothers (the great Bill Moseley plays the other one) who intercept 911 calls in an old ambulance to perform medical crimes upon their unlucky victims. We had the unbelievable honor to interview our horror hero Kane about the film, his many contributions to the genre as an actor and stuntman, and his love of horror. Check out the interview below.
Thanks so much for your time, Kane. Can you start off by telling us how you became involved with Old 37? What attracted you to the project?
I first became involved when Paul Travers (writer/producer of OLD 37) approached me at a convention (Fangoria) and mentioned the idea. He said he wrote the movie for me. I thought it was a great concept and wondered why it wasn’t done before. I was amazed nobody exploited that area already.
You and Bill Moseley have such a great chemistry together in this film. It looks like you really have a great time together. How was it working with him?
Paul brought up working with Bill and I thought it was a great idea. We have a great chemistry together, and that’s what people say when they see the movie. In general, and as friends, the more I work with him… the more I respect him. I’m always impressed by someone who has amazing college credentials, and he’s a Yale graduate.
In this film, you spend the film behind a mask and you manage to convey so much emotion and express so much without saying a word. How difficult is it to act without being able to use your face and voice?
I find it much more difficult to convey certain emotions with a mask covering your face. It’s not only hard to convey but it’s also hard to make it look realistic… like you’re not acting. People who play characters with their face hidden, I feel they try too hard. You have to use your body but look like you’re not trying to. It’s a skill.
How would you describe your character in the film? (You play a sadistic killer, but you also seem to have this vulnerability that elicits sympathy from the audience. Could you tell us a little about that and if that was a key part of the script or something you brought to the table as an actor?)
I do play a sadistic killer. But, as you mentioned, I have a vulnerability and kinda get some sympathy from the audience. Most of that credit has to go to Bill because he came up on the fly with an idea during one of the scenes that I thought was absolutely brilliant. It was completely Bill’s idea to do the chicken dance when the cop’s visiting the junk yard. In that one scene, you dislike Bill’s character more and feel sympathy for mine.
How happy were you with how the film turned out? What was your favorite part of making this film?
The best part of making the film was working with everybody. I know it sounds like kissing ass but it was such a fun crew and a cool location (I’ve never shot anything out in eastern Long Island before). So it was fun being out there and obviously working with Bill, Brandi and everybody. Also, having my buddy Rick helping me with stunts because I was the stunt coordinator on the film. It’s like when you’re working with your friends and people you enjoy, it doesn’t even feel like work. I think the movie turned out great. My youngest son, Reed (who just started at Vanderbilt University) said that out of all my films, this is his favorite one that I did.
As you stated, you were also the stunt coordinator for the film. The “riding the space” stunt with Brandi Cyrus was exceptionally well done. How difficult was that to pull off?
We had two automobiles going on a winding road at 40mph and a stunt girl (Hannah Scott who did the stunt for Brandi) standing with one foot on each car and riding the space. A very difficult thing to do was figuring out how to safety her… I’m not going to go into how I did it because I don’t want people trying it. I’ve very proud of how we came up with how to lift her safely because you can’t have her connected to both cars… if the cars have to pull apart, she’s in trouble. We only had her safetied to my car, but we did it in such a way that she could stand on Rick’s car right next to me and make it look like she wasn’t holding on to anything. She was safetied with no way to fall, but I’m pretty proud.
It was a pretty ingenious method of safety that we came up with. All I had to do was drive and stay on the road. Rick’s job driving was more difficult. He had to drive right next to me at 40mph without ever looking forward. The reason for that is that he had to keep watch of the distance between the two cars. I watched where we were going and the entire time we were driving he would be looking at my car. Imagine driving a car 40mph and never looking where you’re going. Hannah did such a good job doubling that she did all the female stunts in the movie. It was a tricky thing, but the producer’s brought us in early so we could figure it out.
What was the most demanding/dangerous film you’ve been involved in as a stuntman/coordinator?
As a stunt coordinator, one of the more difficult ones was a movie called Frozen that I shot with Adam Green up in Utah. It’s not the animated one that everyone’s thinking of. It’s the one where people were stuck on a chairlift for a few days. It was a pretty terrifying premise (something that actually does happen in real life). It was such difficult working conditions. It was so cold and we were 6-7,000 ft up in the mountains in the snow in February shooting at night mostly for 6 hours at a time. It was especially difficult for the actors who had to be up in the chairlift for that amount of time. Not too hard to safety them in the chair but the working conditions were just very extreme.
Some of the fire stunts that I’ve done are very tricky. The big fire stunt I did as Jason in Friday the 13th still is my favorite. I’ve done a lot of fire stunts, even knowing that I had almost been killed by one. People still think ‘Why do you still do fire stunts?” I’m not really sure… I guess I’m just nuts! I always enjoyed them, and its such a challenge and takes so much preparation. It looks amazing when done well.
One of the more technical ones that I did was a movie called Fair Game (1995) with Cindy Crawford. It was shot in Miami with 4 stunt people. We were jumping out of a flying helicopter to the top of a moving train one by one at night. Tony Scott directed it. He likes to get a lot of coverage so we did it about 5 times. We were dropping 18 feet, which is pretty scary jumping onto the top of a train. The interesting thing is, after we did it 3 times and broke for a meal, it started raining. We thought, “Uh-oh, if we have to do it again everything’s going to be wet.” We did it 2 more times after that. It doesn’t look as dangerous as it really was.
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with, either behind or in front of the camera, that you’d really like to work with on a future project?
A person that I would like to work with again (even though that really isn’t the question) is Brad Pitt. I worked on Seven with him. Unless he’s changed, he’s an actor that has the mentality of a stunt person. He got hurt when we were filming, which is why you see him with a cast on his arm. He sliced his hand really badly and had to have surgery after putting his hand through a window a car. What I liked about him is that he wanted to finish the scene before he went to the hospital, and that’s a stunt person’s mentality where you think, “I know I’m hurt. but I’m not going to die…so let’s finish the scene.” Based on that, and the fact that he’s a decent athletic actor, I’d probably like to work with him again.
I’ve always wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino as a director on a full film. I worked with him on something called Four Rooms, but it wasn’t much.
What has been your favorite film project in your long and celebrated career?
Obviously, the Jason thing is always going to be on the top of the list. He was a character that I would go to the movies and watch. There were 6 movies before I was ever involved. If you could just put yourself in my place… I’m a horror fan. I loved watching Jason and Michael Myers. Then, all of a sudden, I’m the person playing that character. I felt honored to put that hockey mask on. I wasn’t about to not put my heart and soul into playing that character. That’s gotta be on the top of the list bc it was such a well known character, and it changed my entire career. I was happy to be just a stuntman, and all of a sudden people knew me as Jason.
Next would be Victor Crowley from the Hatchet movies. This was another franchise character to play…and this time from the beginning.
The fact that because I’m known for those characters and that other people want me to be in their horror movies (like OLD 37) just makes me feel very fortunate that my career as gone in this direction. I’m very happy about it.
Are there any roles you’d love the chance to return to? Personally, I would LOVE to get another Hatchet film. You’re brilliant as Victor Crowley.
Yes, of course! I would love to play Jason one more time. I think it’d be interesting for the fans to have me come back one last time. I loved the character so much. I would still embrace the possibility to do it one more time. I always had my fingers crossed for maybe one more Hatchet film as well. Who knows, maybe one, both or none.
Which director have you most enjoyed working with?
John Beuchler had confidence in me to play Jason the first time. and that changed everything. I feel indebted to him for that. I liked working with him because he was prepared, and I’m surprised he doesn’t direct more. Same with Adam Green, who is such a prepared guy and a good writer too. I would always have to add my own twists to a kill to make it more brutal…but in the Hatchet movies, I barely had to add anything because it was written so graphically that even I was happy with it.
A third one that has the same creativity as a writer and director turns out to be John Schneider. I did a movie with him called Smothered in Louisiana. I used to be one of the second string stuntmen on Dukes of Hazard and knew John for a long time. When he came to me with a horror project, I didn’t know what to expect. But it was so well written. He is one of the other directors that comes up with things on the fly and makes scenes even better.
What was the first film that turned you on to the genre and made you a horror lover?
I have always loved horror and I would say the first horror movie that had an affect on me was The Birds. When I was a kid and I watched the images of the guys with his eyes pecked out, that imagery stayed in my mind for a long time. I thought, “That’s pretty amazing that a movie could have that kind of impact on me.” Since then, I always have loved horror after that movie.
What are your top five favorite horror films of all time?
Obviously, The Birds is one. My all time favorite movie is The Exorcist because of the impact it had on society at the time. Besides those two, I’d also include Halloween, the original The Thing, and either Black Christmas or the first Amityviille Horror.
What’s one thing you think your fans would be surprised to know about you?
The one thing that comes to mind, and hopefully it doesn’t sound pompous, but most people won’t realize that I qualify for Mensa, an international high IQ society. Also. I’m an avid poker player.
I know you stay incredibly busy and always seem to be working. What’s next for you? Anything you’re really excited about?
There are all kinds of things. SMOTHERED just came out on VOD. I also did a film in London with Bill Moseley again called SHED OF THE DEAD, a horror comedy that is currently in post-production. There’s a documentary of my life (visual version of my book). I’ve been doing the motion capture for Jason for the video game. It’s going to be a really involved FRIDAY THE 13TH VIDEO GAME, and I’m helping with the stunts. The game is going to be incredible and should be out in October.
Old 37 is now widely available on DVD or VOD. Check out the trailer for the film below.
Smothered is now available on VOD and available for pre-order on DVD (release date: April 19, 2016).
“Friday the 13th: The Game” is available for pre-order here.
Kane Hodder will also be making an appearance at the 2016 Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas, Texas on April 29-May 1, which we’ll be attending and providing extensive coverage of.