A Chat With Ken Kirzinger (Jason Voorhees, Freddy vs Jason)

Part of our ongoing series of chats/interviews with the actors of the Friday the 13th series from the Return To Camp Crystal Lake reunion in the beginning of June, brings us to Canadian stuntman Ken Kirzinger. Ken was at the middle of one of the biggest controversies in the Friday the 13th film franchise when he was chosen to play Jason over Kane Hodder for the film Freddy vs Jason.

We will get into that situation a little later. First, we want to discuss Ken's involvement in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. In what would be an ironic twist of fate, Ken was actually the stuntman/actor that was originally chosen to play Jason in the film. If you listen to Kane Hodder's interviews or talked to him in person, he would state that another person was originally cast for Jason ,but he called Producers and lobbied to reprise the role, which he would eventually do. Ken Kirzinger mentioned that he was notified about the change, Kane reprising the Jason role, but was asked to stay on to help with various parts of the production. Ken agreed, and would go onto actually portray Jason in a number of scenes.

Ken's Involvement In Jason Takes Manhattan
As part of our Making The Franchise series, we have gone in-depth into the three exact scenes Ken played in Jason Takes Manhattan, which he confirmed to us during our talk. However, there was even another brief shot that Ken donned the hockey mask for. During one scene in the sewer system, Jason is chasing Rennie with a wrench. Rennie finds a bucket of toxic waste and throws the waste on Jason's head. Ken suited up as Jason on just this one shot of when the green waste was thrown onto Jason's Head.

Ken told us that the scenes he filmed as Jason were normally second unit shoots and that Kane would normally be off with the first unit. However, Ken did mention that he was specifically chosen to play Jason for the scene where the police car runs over Jason in the New York City alley. Producers did not want Kane to take that hit in fear of injury and losing him for the rest of the film. Indeed another ironic twist of fate for Ken later in his Jason Voorhees experience.

Most interesting, was Ken's mention that his portrayal of the cook in the New York City diner was not in the script and that he suggested he stand in as the character as a sort of gag. He mentioned the word gag as meaning that the sight of Jason picking up a taller man than himself and throwing him into a mirror would signify that Jason was definitely "pissed off" and not to be messed around with.

Jason Moves Slow In Freddy vs Jason
The situation of casting Jason Voorhees for the film was, as mentioned earlier, an ironic twist of fate. Now, Ken would swap roles with Kane Hodder, being the actor to replace the other who was already considered for the role. This decision sent shockwaves through the Friday the 13th fan community. Ken, however, had nothing but high Praise for Freddy vs Jason Director Ronny Yu and his approach to Jason for the film. Two key points that Ken touched on during his time filming was his restrictions on stunt work and just how slow Jason walked.

It was funny to listen to Ken explain how meticulate Ronny Yu was in having Jason Voorhees walk slow. He recounted the scene in the very beginning of the film where Jason is walking down Elm Street (A scene for which Jason was never seen in the final edit, except a shadow). Ronny would order take, after take, after take of Jason just walking. Each time, Mr. Yu would ask Ken to walk slower and slower. It got to one point where Ken said he felt like he wasn't moving at all. He stated that Ronny had a very specific vision of Jason, whereas he would have very slow movements, but when he would strike, it would be very quick and deadly.

As for his stunt work in the film, Ken was most frustrated that he was unable to perform the fire stunt for the rave scene in the corn field. He told us that he was most looking forward to that part of filming as he had experience in fire stunts and wanted to add something very special to the Jason character in the scene. However, the second twist of fate would hit Ken as now production did not want their lead Jason to incur injury with such a dangerous stunt. So, as Ken would replace Kane Hodder for the police car stunt in Jason Takes Manhattan, now, Ken would be replaced by fellow stuntman Glenn Ennis.

Another level of frustration for this one scene was that Glen had absolutely no experience doing fire stunts prior to his time on Freddy vs Jason. Ken felt that he would have done a much better job with the experience he had gained. However, he did say that the scene still ended up very exciting, but he would have really enjoyed seizing that one moment.

Ken's Contribution To the Franchise
It must be noted that Ken has been criticized quite heavily over the years for what the majority of fans call the least successful portrayal of Jason Voorhees. It has been a bit disconcerting to read fan's opinions that Ken did not care about the character or the series. However, that is very far from the truth. Ken's passion for the projects he was involved in should not be questioned as he truly enjoys his experience and most notably the fans.

Ken sacrificed a lot for his pair of Jason romps and should not be crucified for Freddy vs Jason individually as he literally was taking direction from a man that quite possibly for the first time in the franchise had a clearly defined idea of what he wanted Jason to be. Other Directors in the series relied on the actors playing Jason to carry out his persona. Kane Hodder took complete ownership of the character and worked with Directors that were willing to let Kane do his proverbial Jason thing. Fans should at least take that into consideration.

Ken should be remembered for being one of two actors who not only were in both Paramount and New Line/Warner Bros. Friday the 13th franchises, but was also one of two people to portray Jason Voorhees twice in the film franchise!
Powered by Blogger.