Fright Exclusive Interview with FRIDAY THE 13TH/HATCHET III’S Derek Mears!!
Kane Hodder, Ted White, just a couple of the names associated with the great Jason Voorhees. Another name that is definitely up as far as fans are concerned, is Derek Mears. Whether people loved or hated 2009’s FRIDAY THE 13TH remake, one thing is undeniable, Mears’ take on the hockey mask-wearing killer was one for the books, and he breathed new air into the Crystal Lake slasher. Having quite the resume already, Mears now stars in BJ Mcdonnell’s HATCHET III, as a merc leader of a team sent to stop the crazed never-dying Victor Crowley. Mears was nice enough to talk to Icons of Fright about HATCHET III, FRIDAY THE 13TH and well…Bakersfield? Read on!
Hey man, I have a few questions for ya, but first off, Rob G (Icons of Fright’s head honcho) told me to tell you hi.
Holy crap, punch that guy in his lady balls for me.
I will, I’m going to see him in a few days so I will definitely punch him in the balls for ya.
(Laughs). No, I love him, he’s great, Rob G.
Yeah, he’s awesome. So anyways, your character in HATCHET III is a tough as hell Merc, did you have to do any particular training for that role, or did you just jump right into it?
Honestly, for most of my jobs, if I’m unfamiliar with something, then I’ll go research it and do training, but from previous jobs, I have a lot of tactical military training on how to do things so I just used that. I did do research for specific hand signals if that counts. So I knew a lot of it already. I sound like a jerk, huh? “Oh, I knew it already, I’m totally trained”. (Laughs).
How did your involvement in the film come about?, Where you a fan of the first two before joining the third?
Oh yeah, I was totally a fan. Actually, when HATCHET II came around, Adam (Green) asked me to be in it, but I was unavailable because I think I was still working on PREDATORS at that time. When HATCHET III came around, I had already known BJ McDonnell (director of H III) from previously projects that we had worked on together, I knew Adam, so when they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I just said “Are you kidding me? Yeah!”. In fact, I don’t even think they finished the question, before I said yeah. They said “It’s a low budget”, and I said “I don’t care what it is, I’m in”. The cool thing is, and it’s just one of the reasons that I love those two guys, they’re so humble, is that they said from the beginning, “we’re making this movie for the fans, and that’s our goal, for the horror fans to be happy”.
I talked to BJ a while back, and he mentioned that it was the lowest budgeted movie in the series, but it really doesn’t feel that way, it’s pretty grand in scale.
Yeah, yeah, which is nuts, because we shot in the Louisiana swamps proper, in New Orleans, it was a crazy shoot. The scope of the film is so raw and wide, because BJ is such a fantastic cameraman as well a director. Just some of the shots…the shots alone, even outside of being a horror movie, are just beautiful. I was stoked to be a part of the process.
When it was first announced that you were going to be in the film, a lot of fans were buzzing about the inevitable “Jason Vs. Jason!!” showdown, between you and Kane Hodder.
Was that something that excited you at all?
The thing is, that I had been asked that before. Kane and I have been friends for a while, and we had been pitched different projects, where they said “it’s you against Kane!”, and it just wasn’t the right project. When this came along, it felt like the right time, and we were all friends and said “Ok, let’s do this, and do it right,” and I was stoked man, I was happy to do it. I think I’m going to end every one of these questions with “I’m stoked, I’m happy to do it!”. (Laughs).
I think you have the best final line that I’ve heard in years!
(Laughs). I haven’t seen the dvd yet, but hopefully there’s a blooper reel on it, because when that final line happened, BJ said “Just do it a series of them, do whatever you want to do,” and there were a lot of them. The one that made it into the movie was one of the scripted ones, Adam wrote that one. There was one, where at one point, where we were filming and when he slams me against the wall, everyone was like “Holy shit, these guys are really going at it!”, and I just said “Uh, hey man, I’m a really big fan!”, and everyone just started laughing.
Yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Where you surprised at all how well received the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake was by the fans?
Actually no. I mean, you never know, while working on set, how something is going to turn out, but as a fan myself, working on that set, there were people who were extremely passionate about making it good. Well all loved the franchise and really wanted it to turn out good. When you’re that much into something, and you pour your heart and soul into, you fight for certain things, and there was a scene that I really fought for, which was the scene where Jason was on the roof. We were running out of time, and I just said “You know what, clock me out! Clock me out, and let’s just get this shot, because it’s never been done before”, where Jason would be smart and set stuff up like that. For me, it wasn’t about the time, it was about the quality, and giving a new take on the character.
I know for a fact that Platinum Dunes were online, and on imdb.com reading feedback from fans on what they expected and what they wanted to see. They would read that stuff, and actually bring us ideas, saying “the fans really want this,” and they were openly trying to incorporate what the fans wanted. I’ve worked on projects before where the producers didn’t care what the fans wanted, but these guys really did.
Yeah totally, that’s really cool. Another role of yours that I’d like to talk about, is your role as Bullseye in Joe Lynch’s TRUTH IN JOURNALISM short.
(Laughs). Ok, shoot!
Man, I really liked it, I think it was the best Bullseye yet. Would you ever be opposed to playing that character or another similar character like that in a feature Marvel movie?
Oh man, are you kidding me?! I’m a HUGE nerd, I grew up loving comic books, sci-fi and horror. That’s my career, and I’m totally fine with that. When Joe asked me to be in it, we were doing the Boston promotion that Adam Green did, to raise money for the Boston bombings. When we were there, Joe was like, “Hey man, this is a super super secret thing that nobody knows about, not even our closest friends know”, and he explained the whole TRUTH IN JOURNALISM thing, and said “Uh, would you want to play Bullseye?”. I looked him and said “Are you kidding me, I would LOVE to play Bullseye, that would be great!”. A lot of times, though I have a background in fighting, I just don’t get the opportunity to FIGHT, and throw high kicks and get down & dirty. So doing a character like that, I would love to do something like that, and let loose.
You’re obviously well known for playing Jason Voorhees and some real tough guy roles, but you have a large comedy background, beginning in Bakersfield, CA, right?
Yeah, I grew up there and my background is all improv comedy and I’ve been doing it professionally since I was 17. I actually still do it here, in Los Angeles. It’s such a blessing to get known for a certain thing, you know, I’m known for FRIDAY THE 13TH and for punching people, but for people to notice the comedy background is flattering. People will tune into my Twitter or Facebook page and say “wait, you actually have a brain..”, and it makes me happy. It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship, because there have been people that have sent me messages saying “I had a really bad day, but I looked at your Twitter and it made me happy and laugh”, so it makes me laugh and it also makes them laugh. I don’t think I’m anything special, I have a lot of “dumb” in my head, but I just decided to step on the gas pedal and start to share those thoughts.
If I’m not doing a TV or film job, I perform with two different groups, here in Los Angeles. I do the Comedy Sportz on the weekends, and I perform with a new group, that I’m so excited about called The Resistance. We do action/adventure stuff, and it’s completely improvised. We’ll do fights on stage and we’re bring stunt pads and scenery and it’ll just work together. It’s always a really nice compliment when people ask “how long did you guys rehearse for this?” and well, we don’t. We just show up and go for it. It’s a lot of fun to tell quality stories that people find comedic.
Totally. I was caught off guard when I read that you started in Bakersfield, I’m from Visalia, CA.
Oh, get out town, really?! That’s so crazy, we’re friends! (laughs) It’s basically the same upbringing.
Yeah definitely, I used to go to a lot of punk and hardcore shows at Jerry’s Pizza in Bakersfield growing up.
Oh my god, yeah, Jerry’s, where they had all of the bands playing a lot.
Yeah, it’s a dive in the best of ways. So my last question, is one that you’re probably tired of answering…
..Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. (Laughs)
Go for it.
Is there ANY chance that we’re going to see you in FRIDAY THE 13TH 2 or a second HANSEL AND GRETEL movie?
I don’t know man, that’s actually a good question. I’m stoked that they’re moving forward, supposedly, with HANSEL AND GRETEL 2 AND FRIDAY THE 13TH 2. I know that before it was announced that Paramount now has all of the rights and were moving forward on FRIDAY THE 13TH 2, the guys at Platinum Dunes said “Look, you’re our guy, we want to do it with you,” and I said “I would love to do it, hypothetically, if that happens,” but I haven’t been offered it yet and it’s not officially greenlit yet, so they can’t offer anything. What I told them, and I’ve also told fans, is that “Even if I’m NOT a part of it, as a horror fan and as a fan of the series, just make it happen,” because I want to see more of the Jason character. I wish I could tell you more, because I would like to return. I’m doing a lot of projects right now, but I would love to come back..we’ll see what happens.
Alright man, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today.
Oh man, thanks so much for the questions, I really appreciate it.
HATCHET III hits DVD/Bluray August 13th via Dark Sky Films.