Friday the 13th series alumni Kane Hodder and C.J Graham reveal what it takes to become Jason Vorhees!
Jason Takes Manhatten! Jason Goes To Hell! Jason Took Outer Space! No, really, he did. Watch ‘Jason X’ if you don’t believe me. Ok, so the makers of the ‘Friday The 13th‘ series had started to take liberties with the franchise by this point but the film was a fun excuse to waste 90 minutes of your free time. It was also the last time that actor/stuntman Kane Hodder would portray the classic movie monster. Hodder took over the iconic role of Jason Voorhees in the seventh instalment of the franchise, subtitled ‘The New Blood‘. The film was a Friday The 13th/ Carrie crossover in name only. The producers did attempt to get Sissy Spacek on board the film but with rights issues and legal issues and Spacek’s rejection of the project put paid to their hopes on that idea.
Before Hodder took over Jason’s mantle, Actor C.J Graham was the man behind the mask. Graham took the role on in the sixth film, ‘Jason Lives!‘. After the lacklustre and quite appalling attempt to reinvigorate the character in part V’s ‘A New Begining‘, Graham brought Jason back with a blast. The film was more lighthearted than horrific but it brought back the ‘proper’ Jason to the fans and to the screen. Another stuntman had originally taken on the role but, due to things not working out, Graham was approached to take over as the hockey-masked monster. And in doing so, set in place a template, a way of playing the character if you will that stayed with the series up until the recasting of the role, stupidly in my eyes, in 2003s ‘Freddy Vs Jason‘ which although Robert Englund was again fantastic as Freddy Krueger was letdown by a completely uninspired choice of Ken Kirzenger as Jason. And lets not even attempt to discuss Derek Mears attempt in the enjoyable but ultimate letdown of the 2009 remake.
Both Kane Hodder and C.J Graham were guests at this past July’s London And Film Comic-Con. Both were onstage together at a free talk discussing their time as Jason Voorhees. Both also were on hand to sign autographs and many fans merchandise as well as take photos with the guests. I myself indulged, getting both actors to sign a Jason hockey mask for me and to take a few photographs with me and a few members of Team Future Of The Force. Both men were extremely friendly and both were extremely funny, poking light-hearted fun at the Showmasters staff sitting with them at their tables for the fans to meet as well as interacting with their fans. Both men did photo ops with the paying customers but only C.J Graham, in an arranged shoot, dressed up in the now-famous outfit of Voorhees to shoot pictures with the fans.
Not unlike another guest, James Jude Courtney, who explained to me how he reacted on set once he put the famous Michael Myers mask on during the filming of 2018s ‘Halloween‘, Graham was a totally different person once the hockey mask went on. Instead of the friendly, nice and pleasant man (who, I have to admit, has the grip of a grizzly bear when he grabs ahold of your shoulder, in a friendly, joking way of course), you are standing in a room with JASON. No talk, no friendly greetings, no niceties, just pure unadulterated Jason. And it is a little unnerving, to say the least. But that’s the nature of things. You want to meet and speak to C.J Graham, the actor, you got it. All pure friendliness, fun and light. You want Jason, you get Jason, dark, nasty, non-speaking, pure evil. The contrast is frightening.
Kane Hodder has been a hero of mine ever since he put on that mask. To me and many of the fans of the franchise, he IS Jason. He’s played him four times on screen and has gone down in history as the quintessential Jason. Hodder, the man is a completely gentle, friendly and charming man, who had me laughing for most of our all too brief time together as he was signing my mask. He was making fun of an assistant sitting next to him, never taking anything too seriously and was someone who you could easily sit down with and hold an evening full of conversation. And then add C.J to the mix and you’d be looking at the rising sun of the new day as you could sit and listen, laugh and talk with both men all night without realising it. I did manage to speak with Mr Hodder and let him know my feelings on his being replaced as the character on Freddy Vs Jason. And he spoke to me with his feelings towards what happened.
It is common knowledge that C.J Graham was approached to take on the character again in the film and because of his friendship and loyalty with Kane Hodder, turned it down. Kane Hodder himself is a friend of Robert Englund and I was told the story of what Englund himself said of the film before it started shooting. Robert Englund looked Kane Hodder in the eye and said to him, “To me, this isn’t Freddy Vs Jason. To me, this is Englund Vs Hodder”. Both actors were chomping at the bit to work together and to both be part of a smackdown that had been coming ever since Paramount asked New Line Cinema if they would consider doing the film way back in 1988. At the time, Jason’s star was seriously on the wane whereas Freddy’s was riding high so New Line Refused. Now both franchises were under the New Line banner, it would make pure sense to have the titans together in a fight for the ages.
Only someone made the choice to not hire Kane Hodder, denying the fans and the world the one and the only chance they would get at having the two actors playing their iconic roles in the same film. To me and to the majority of the fans, this was a huge missed opportunity. Kane Hodder himself spoke to me and he expressed his sadness and his dismay at being passed over for the film. He explained he was all ready to do the film and was waiting for the contract to come through to confirm his appearance and he is still waiting to this day.
The panel both men appeared on was completely superb. As a Friday The 13th fan, it was amazing to be sitting in the audience, near the front row and seeing these two icons of the franchise live and in-person in front of me. Both were more than willing to speak and take questions from the audience and their interaction during the panel was a joy to behold. At one point, Graham made a comment about scaring the audience and the next made the poor woman conducting the panel jump out of her skin! Both were asked about their favourite kill in their movies and Hodder stated that the sleeping bag kill was his. He also revealed that originally, Jason hit the helpless victim in the bag against the tree five times but due to the M.P.A.A censorship at the time, the scene was reduced to just once. But when he saw the final film, Hodder feels like the kill was more extreme and nasty with just the one tree hit. Graham’s favourite from Jason Lives was revealed to be the killing of the sheriff, bent in half backwards. A nasty kill to be sure.
When asked if both or either man would consider returning to the franchise if and when the rights issues surrounding the property are finally resolved in a cameo role as a victim of Jason, C.J Graham confirmed he would love to appear again and thought it would be cool. Kane Hodder, however, was less receptive to the idea, stating that he wouldn’t be happy to appear in the role of a victim in any future film. Although I would like to see the two appear in a future Friday movie, I can understand both points of view. I get the feeling where Kane Hodder is concerned, after his treatment with the Freddy Vs Jason farce, its a case of him playing Jason or he doesn’t play at all. And that is quite understandable.
It was fantastic seeing both men in person and in the U.K. I’m not sure if they have ever appeared together before or if they have ever appeared together in England. It was a personal dream of mine to meet them both and I got my wish. Not only did I get to meet and speak with both of them, but I also got myself a personal memento with the signing of my hockey mask that now has a pride of place position in my home alongside my gained photos of James Jude Courtney at the same Con and my cherished signed photo of Nick Castle from last years event. It was an absolute pleasure meeting and speaking with the pair of them and would like to offer my most sincere thanks to them for the time they spent with me.
I would also like to say a massive thank you to Showmasters for their staging of this mammoth event. I found it to be a first-class showing and I enjoyed every second of attending it. And my thanks to all the hard-working staff for making the weekend flow so well, it wasn’t an easy task for them dealing with all the thousands of people but they managed it admirably.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a darkened living room, with my cherished autographed hockey mask beside me and am taking a long-overdue return trip to Camp Crystal Lake once again.
I just hope I make it back again and in one piece.
Until next time.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones and Horror movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!