Jason Voorhees made his debut in Friday the 13th in 1980, though it wasn't until Friday the 13th Part III in 1982 that the character earned his iconic hockey mask, an identity he assumed in all subsequent sequels. Multiple performers brought the character to life throughout the series, with many fans considering Kane Hodder to be the defining persona behind the character. The actor made his debut with Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, going on to become the only performer to play Jason more than once, ultimately playing Jason in four consecutive films. Hodder recently revealed that a number of factors contributed to what made his interpretation of the killer such a success.
"I think maybe some of the previous guys didn't really find the role that interesting because they're like, 'Well, I don't get to show my face and I don't talk, so how hard is it going to be?'" Hodder recalled to ComicBook.com. "They took it too lightly, I think, because it's far more difficult to be scary without using either one of those tools, or your voice or your facial expressions. I would put the costume on and look in a mirror and do movements and see what I thought looked good or scary or natural because my whole goal was to make the performance look like I was not acting. I didn't want anyone to say, 'Ah, it's just a guy in a mask trying to be scary.' I just didn't want that thought to enter your mind and so that you just watched a fucking terrifying individual, regardless of what he was doing."
In addition to the mental approach to the character, Hodder detailed specific, subtle decisions he made to help make the villain feel more "alive," despite his multiple on-screen "deaths."
"And I incorporated the heavy breathing technique, nobody had really done anything like that," the actor shared. "So that if Jason is standing there staring at you, I thought it looked like he could be a mannequin if he's not doing anything else. So what can I do to make him look like he's about to explode, even though he's standing motionless at the moment? And that's when I came up with the breathing thing and that seems to be, according to most fans I've talked to, my signature move of playing the character. Everyone that dresses as Jason at a convention will always do the breathing thing when they stare at me. And most of the time, they're trying too hard. Once again, it's a tough thing to do something like that and not make it look like you're acting. I mean, it sounds like a simple idea, but it's really the key. Don't look like you're performing."
Hodder's last appearance in the series, Jason X, hit theaters in 2001 and, due to legal disputes, there seems to be no new sequel on the horizon. Despite being out of the role for 18 years and having amassed dozens of roles in his career, Hodder feels as though Jason is such a close character to him, he'd be able to reprise the role effortlessly at a moment's notice.
"I think it's fairly natural for me," the actor admitted of tapping into the character. "I do feel like if I got called and I started tomorrow, I could get right back into it because, an example of how accurate that feeling is, is when people will either say, 'Hey, come on, do the Jason walk,' and I respond with, 'Well, that's just kind of how I walk.' I do just walk like that. It does look natural because that's how it is. Or I'll be walking through a convention and I'll hear somebody say, 'Oh, he's doing the Jason walk. Look at that.' And once again, it's just, hey, if it's close to your normal personality, it's easy to get right there."
He added, "Obviously I'm not as violent as Jason, so that part of it comes from stunts and fighting with characters and actors. You have to make a fight scene look good, so you have to have that ability as a stunt person and you can bring that rage pretty quickly in a fight scene. I think that ability helps with this character."
What do you think made Hodder such an iconic Jason? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!