Interview with Derek Mears

Derek Mears is most known for his role of Jason Voorhees in the reboot of “Friday the 13th”. He is also starring in this years reboot of “Predators” produced by Robert Rodriguez. Movie Mikes has a chance to talk to Derek about his amazing career so far and found out that he is really “a fan representing the fans” and he is only getting started and going to have a long career ahead of him.

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Mike Gencarelli: Did you feel any pressure remaking “Friday the 13th”, one of horror’s most beloved series?
Derek Mears: I felt pressure from myself because Jason is my favorite horror character. You really want to do the character justice. When I originally went for the part I said, If I am right for the part, that’s awesome and if I am not right for the part that is awesome too because first and foremost I am a fan. I just want to see more films.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you prepare for the role of Jason Voorhees?
Derek Mears: I did a lot of character research. I grew up loving all of the films. I researched childhood psychology, wilderness survival and different things like that. Childhood psychology because Jason sees his
mother getting murdered in front of him when he was ten years old. Just tried to find that mental space to see where he is coming from. Basically even though you have no dialogue, you still do a full character research work.

Mike Gencarelli: So you put a lot more into it then just reading the script?
Derek Mears: You use the script as the blueprint. Being a fan of the guys that played Jason before me, you have to put that aside. You have to build off of what you have in the script and act like you have never seen it before.
Later on in the movie, since I am fan, I did little homages to the Jason’s before me.

MG: The sequel to “Friday the 13th” was just announced dead earlier this month, any word on that?
DM: I know the producers wanted me to return, which is super cool of them. They wanted to do a sequel but we waiting to see what happens. I really don’t what is going to happen now.

MG: Tell me about your upcoming role in “Predators”?
DM: I can talk a little bit about it, but I have to be kinda vague. I do not want people showing up at my door with baseball bats. Career-wise, I feel like I am going through my toy chest as a child and picking out different action figures that I love and saying I want to play this character, but for real though. This is amazing. The shoot was an absolute blast to do. I can say that K.N.B Effects knocked the designs for the Predator masks out of the ballpark. I try to have the fan boy eye first before the professional eye. I say “What do I think as the fan?” I am hesitant to see new designs of some popular characters but once I saw some of the designs that K.N.B did, I was so happy. I can’t wait for the fans to see it to see what they think. I am behind it 100%. It looks awesome.

MG: What was it like working with Robert Rodriguez?
DM: I didn’t talk to Robert too much but from being a fan of Robert, it was really cool to see him work. He let the director Nimród (Antal) run and do his thing. He was there overseeing things. It was interesting the see the teamwork between the two of them. Robert assembled this amazing crew in Austin and it was an amazing group of talented people. Everyone had a love for movies and just wanted it to be good, it wasn’t just another job. It was more of a family environment than a work environment.

MG: Have you always wanted to be an actor?
DM: Yeah. The reason I got into acting was because when i was a kid, I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and role playing games and I said “Man, this is what I want to do the rest of my life”. I am kind of doing that now, I am still playing Dungeons and Dragons and getting paid for it. Can’t complain. I am thankful everyday. I feel like I am a fan representing the fans. I am so lucky.

MG: You’ve worked stunts on “Pirates of the Caribbean 1 & 2”, what was it like working on such a big production?
DM: It was an incredible growing experience. I got to travel around the world. We were shooting in the Bahamas, the Caribbean and going to third world countries and experiencing some really amazing things. So first I was able to create with an amazingly talented group of people and second I learned so much about life. It was impressive and humbling at the same time.

MG: You’ve done stand improv, tell us a little about that?
DM: Yes I do, it is called the Make-’em-ups, it is like a “Who’s Line is it Anyway” for people that don’t know. I started a long time ago. I grew up in Bakersville, CA and I joined a group called Comedy Sportz at the age of 17. Comedy Sportz is competitive improv comedy. There are two teams and you complete for laughs and points from the audience. When I went to a show back then, I saw there is no script. You had to come up with scene and be funny just from what the audience gives you. I was impressed with these on-stage daredevils. I wanted to take classes just for the fun of it. I started playing in Bakersville, then when I moved to L.A., I joined their team there since Comedy Sportz is a big national franchise. I took like an eight year hiatus to focus on my TV and movie career. I recently just came back and I have been playing again for the last three years in Los Angeles. It has been a blast. It is like my creative doodle pad. You can go there and just let your brain run.

MG: You’ve appeared on over two dozen TV shows, how do they differ from movies?
DM: TV is just much faster. They have a week to do an episode. A film is fast paced but it you have a little more time to work.

MG: You play characters usually heavily makeup-ed or behind a mask? Do you enjoy that?
DM: It is usually 50/50 career-wise. I wear makeup half the time and the other half is my pretty smiling mug. It is funny because a lot of the stuff that has brought me attention to my career has been iconic characters that have been under masks or under prosthetics. It is all the same to me if you are wearing a mask or not wearing a mask you are still have to do character research. You commit 100% and the energy you create transfers through on screen. If I wasn’t wearing a mask in a scene, it is the same expression is going on and will be captured on the film.

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