‘Friday the 13th’ Interview: The Fearless First Jason Ari Lehman Part II

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After an amazing first chapter on Friday the 13th, we’re finishing our conversation with the series’ first Jason, Ari Lehman. Enjoy Friday Freaks.

Ari Lehman as young Jason scaring Alice (Adrienne King) in Sean Cunningham’s ‘Friday the 13th’ – Courtesy of Paramount Pictures


In the ’80s, one horror franchise ruled the land. Using John Carpenter’s Halloween as inspiration (or ripping it off if honesty is your thing), Friday the 13th began etching its mark into the annals of horror history.

And a big part of that history is Ari Lehman. Playing young Jason Voorhees in the original’s iconic finale, Lehman helps make Friday the 13th a genre classic. Two days ago, on Friday the 13th, we brought you Part I of our conversation with Jason Voorhees originator Ari Lehman. Today, we continue that conversation.

So build that campfire, stay drug free, and lock that cabin door as we bring you Part II of our conversation with Friday the 13th’s first Jason, Ari Lehman.

Catch up on our interview with Ari Lehman in Part 1 before you read our second chapter.


Sean S. Cunningham ‘Friday the 13th’- Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1428 Elm: While Sean Cunningham is a master of the macabre, it’s amazing how gentle and guiding he was with you in one of the film’s most iconic scenes. Probably the most iconic actually.

Ari Lehman: Yeah he saying that, that I’m the director, really made me feel special. But also, that I was responsible for pulling the scene off. So I thought, “Should I come out sort of timidly or should I come out all gang busters?” So I chose the latter because she killed my mother, I’m gonna try and kill her back!” So that’s when I come out of the lake. And they used that first take. But with the power of Gifs, you can see the first take over and over. But the scene is two takes together. So I come out of the water, and then the second take is tight in.

1428: So that scene was only two takes? You guys only did each shot once?

AL: Yeah, that was only one each. And then there was the drowning scene. You know, the scene with Mother Voorhees when she was remembering me. The scene with “He wasn’t a very good swimmer.”

More from Friday the 13th

So I remember when ‘Jaws’ came out when I was a kid. We all loved that film. And I remember going to the beach. We’d go, we’d play, and mom would be there on the side of the beach with sandwiches. And I’d be like “AHHHHHHH!”, just to mess with her. Mom would run to the edge and scream ” Ari, are you ok!?” They had all seen ‘Jaws’, so they were all scared thinking a  huge shark would eat one of their kids .

So when I did the scene, where the flashback happens, I just imagined I was being eaten by Bruce the shark. When I did it, everybody said “That was amazing! You’re great!” So it was one take and done.

1428: So I suppose you could say you killed that scene?

AL: Haha right. So I thought “Wow, adults are kind of crazy aren’t they?”

1428: That they are. So especially at a young age, the Jason makeup from the original film looks like a lot to go through. While someone like Kane Hodder goes through it a lot, a kid may find it to be a huge process. How was having all that applied to your face? What was the process like?

AL: The one thing that was shocking is they said, as all great makeup men do, “Don’t look in a mirror. We’re not going to provide you with any mirrors.” And this was a five or six hour process. Then they spin me around after it was all over, like a barber’s chair, and then leave. They tell me to open my eyes when they’re gone. So I see me as this boy and think “Wow.” Because at first I was really scarred. I thought “Who is that?” It was this little boy.

Then, after a bit, I recovered and thought “Ok, now I need to get into character.” You know, who is this kid and whatnot. I needed to figure out who he is inside. That led me to having a lot of sympathy for Jason. And there is supposed to be a certain level of empathy for the character. He’s supposed to be revolting but also sympathetic. I think they achieved that in many ways. Through Tom Savini’s work but also in the way Sean (Cunningham) directed the scene.