Jason: The Victim of FRIDAY THE 13TH?

According to the latest man behind the hockey mask, Jason Voorhees is just a poor, neglected sod who's fighting the jerk-faces of the world for all of us.
Derek Mears, the newest custodian of Jason Voorhees' hockey mask, thinks that the machete-wielding mass murderer of Crystal Lake really is just an outcast to whom audiences can relate.

"Society has kind of rejected him," the affable Mears said in an interview at July's San Diego Comic-Con International. "And he's accepted it and wants to be left alone. And now they've come in on him and invaded his area, and now he's fighting back. So it's almost kind of like, 'Yeah, I wish I could do that. My boss is a jerk face. I can't do that, but Jason can do that.' And they can kind of live through him in a fantasy sort of way."

The upcoming Friday the 13th reboot movie from director Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) stars Jared Padalecki (Supernatural) and Amanda Righetti (The O.C.) as members of a youthful group that stumbles upon the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake and its sole camper who, in the new interpretation developed by writers Mark Swift & Damien Shannon (Freddy vs Jason), was an abused child who grew into a mentally ill adult.

"So I've taken the stance that it's almost like a Vietnam flashback, where someone has been victimized and abused so badly that when things resurface and these kids start to encroach on his area, he is once again having a flashback," said Mears. "It's a moment so intense that he's getting his revenge [for] when he saw his mother get murdered. He's still in the moment, like these people just recently murdered his mother, and he's having his revenge."

As if to emphasize visually the character's lifetime of abuse and neglect, producers Andrew Form & Brad Fuller discouraged Mears from adding bulk to his lanky frame, preferring Jason to be malnourished but "functional."

"The idea is basically, he lives off the land," said the martial arts-trained Mears. "And the movements, from time to time, I would do little homages to some of the guys who've played Jason before me in alternate takes. I don't know if they're going to use it or not. We'll see, because I haven't seen the final product. But just giving respect to the guys who have come before me. But all in all, I've kind of done my own thing."

Footage previewed at Comic-Con by Form & Fuller showed that Mears' "own thing" includes eschewing the slow, stalking lumber of old in favor of faster, more "pro-active" and deadly movement. No longer does he amble along and inexplicably catch up with his prey. Now, Jason Voorhees actually runs them down.

Mears praised his co-stars, who insisted on taking his abuse themselves. "I thoroughly manhandled them and beat the crap out of them every single day. I asked them if they'd want to get their [stunt] doubles and they went, 'No no no. It looks better with me so we can get the full shot, so let's do it.'"

The tall, bald stuntman-turned-actor, who described his experience breathing new life into the hockey masked man as "the closest thing to feeling like a rock star," revealed that there is one way to keep from being another statistic as Jason (blade-)edges closer to 200 career kills.

"Just make friends with him," Mears said with a grin. "That way, he won't be lonely. Grab a good Nerf football. A nice game of catch with Jason. No! He's like a wild animal. Let him be. Go your own way."

Friday the 13th opens February 13, 2009.

[Original materials by PATRICK LEE & CINDY WHITE at Sci Fi Wire, BRIAN GALLAGHER at MovieWeb, PUPPETMASTER at MoviesOnline and LARRY CARROLL at MTV.ca.]
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