INT: David Kagen

I remember seeing FRIDAY THE 13th PART 6: JASON LIVES (READ ARROW'S REVIEW HERE) and sort of feeling shocked. It had all the bits that made for a good F13 movie, minus the nudity, but you could actually say it was different from the others. The humor and the tongue in cheek nature were surprising but really helped make it fun. This and the sort of cult status it has achieved has made it a fan favorite throughout the years.

One of the reasons why it holds up well is the cast. And David Kagen as Sheriff Garris was certainly one of the aspects of the film that made it work. David played him as a nice guy with a low tolerance for some a-hole that is trying to mess with his daughter. Usually parents in these films are just annoying and not really worth your time. But Garris is a great character that ends up having one of the franchise’ most memorable death.

Thanks to the latest release of Jason Lives, I got the chance to talk to David on the phone. He continues to work, especially in television. But what is nice to hear is how fondly he looks back at fighting a hockey masked psychopath. It was a real pleasure talking with him about F13 and the idea of meeting the fans at a few upcoming conventions. He’s a great guy and hopefully along with other fans of this series, we’ll all get a chance to meet him face to face.

When you were offered the role of Sheriff Garris in F13: PART 6, did you have any knowledge of the world of Jason Voorhees?

No. I mean, the thing that is astounding to me is the age range that it appeals to. From very young kids to people who are senior citizens. And recently when I did an autograph signing, you know I’m starting to do that now, [I found] that people are just really sweet. Just nice, regular folks who just get off on this stuff.

Fans are very loyal to these films. I personally have seen every single one in the theatre, except for Part 2, for some reason that one looked really scary at that young an age.

[Laughing] Let me tell you, I went to one, I went to Part 6 at a theatre on Hollywood Blvd.. It was like a ten o’clock show or a nine o’clock show. Now, I don’t normally go to movies to see these kinds of movies but this one of course I knew inside and out so it’s not going to scare me. Well I knew when all of the killings were gonna happen and I sat in the back and I watched people jumping out of their seats, [Laughing] grabbing each other. But also what I loved is that people were yelling at the screen, I mean, they participate. You know, ‘Don’t go there!’, ‘Watch out… NO!’, you know, it’s just wonderful fun, I was totally relaxed and they’re getting totally scared to death. And then after the movie, a bunch of kids, young guys saw me and… ‘Oh my God, you’re in that movie!’ you know, they were just as nice as they can be. And at some point along the way I went to my niece’s public school and did a talk and everybody knew me from Friday the 13th. So it gave me access in a way to teach, which was really nice.

Well the thing that made Jason Lives special, is that it was the first one to not take itself so seriously.

This is what I hear from people.

Going into it, how aware were you as an actor of the more humorous approach?

I was aware of a lot of it, maybe it was good that I wasn’t aware of some of it. Because instead of trying to be funny, you know, I would just really commit to something. You know, that’s what’s known as ‘screwing the pooch’, I would just commit to that and people just loved that. But I wasn’t trying to be funny, I was involved in getting this kid under control, you know, that Tommy Jarvis kid…

You both had great chemistry together, you and Thom Mathews.

Oh thanks. I feel like I sound Pollyanna but he was a really nice guy. He really cared, he really tried to do a good job and threw himself into it. And he was completely down to earth. Nothing… you know… he was just real down to earth. And throughout the filming, because we were together a lot, we got to talk. You know, I don’t remember any particular conversations but it was just very easy to work with Thom and I enjoyed it. I’m hoping that I’m going to go to a convention in a couple of months and maybe see him there. I told some people to tell him that I’d be there so he’d show up.

Yeah, I’ve never really seen him at any of the conventions. I’m actually a fan of the guy, he did some great flicks, kind of the Steve McQueen of B-Horror flicks.

Funny… yeah… well I haven’t done… well this is just brand new you know, and my wife has been really encouraging and saying, ‘You should go to that.’ You know, I still get fan letters every so often, I get fan letters.

Well he was a good character. The thing about him is that even though he has the clichéd, ‘I don’t believe you.’ type of thing going on, he is still likeable. You didn’t play him as a jerk, I just got the sense that he was just trying to help his daughter.

You know, the thing about it is you just try and make him somewhat well-rounded and not one note. You know, I worried that it was too one thing and it’s hard to watch yourself and be objective, but evidently a lot of people liked it. You know, and I’m certainly glad to hear that that came across as hey, I’m trying to take care of my daughter and I’m trying to do my job and all that kind of stuff. And of course Tom [McLoughlin] gave me the opportunity. That fight scene with Jason where he kills me, right before he kills me was added to the script.

When was it added, at what point during the shoot?

I found out very shortly before we did it. I was down there shooting and it was not written in the script. And I took it as a great compliment. They liked what I was doing and they thought it was a good idea. They thought it was good for the story that I should have that, that I should try to do that, that I should have that kind of scene where I would try to protect my daughter, go after Jason and risk my life and lose my life… you know, not to get too serious about it but we just thought that was good. It was a wonderful opportunity for an actor to get to do something like that.

No how easy was it to film the sequence?

They didn’t seem to have a whole lot of problems, I mean, the stunt people worked it out. The stuntman was also very supportive and great to work with. You know, they blocked it out and then we did it.

How long did it take?

You know, it was a couple of few hours as I recall.

Wow, that’s it.

The things that go on, you know, lighting and all the technical stuff are what takes the longest once the actors kind of get it down. That’s just the way it is, that’s not faulting them. And then there is a thing where I pick up a rock and I hit [Jason] on the head with it… well that rock is not a rock, it’s made of some very light material, like Styrofoam. And during one of the shots, I hit him on the head with the rock and dropped the rock, and there was a wind machine and the rock blew across the frame [Laughing].

Now that should’ve been on the DVD [Laughing].

So that kind of technical stuff. I mean, when I watch that scene, I can’t believe how fast I was going. I looked like they were over-cranking the camera or whatever, I was going fast. I didn’t realize I was going that fast.

Now being the sixth film in an obviously successful franchise, was there in thought that so many years later, you’d be once again talking about it with another DVD release?

Not a clue. Not a clue. I mean, I wish I were that clairvoyant or smart or whatever. I know it was very popular and I do continue to get fan letters over the years. I run into people in all kinds of places and environments but I never… I didn’t know… I had no idea. But Tom contacted me and said, we’re being re-re-re-released. So you know, it’s nice. And Tom’s been very successful since that movie. He’s up in Canada directing a movie and after that he’s directing another movie. He works a lot.

You are new to the whole convention world in regards to this film correct? You haven’t done one yet?

I haven’t. And there is a guy who is trying to set these up. He’s hoping sometime this summer, certainly in the early fall, there are a couple of really big conventions. But I think during this economic situation that we are going through, they are waiting a little longer before they book people. My plan is… my hope is that I can go to a couple of these over the second half of the year.

I think fans would be happy to meet you. As I mentioned, fans of this genre are pretty loyal and even with all the double dipping we’ve been asked to do, there is a special place for most of us in regards to these films. And having people like you come and meet and talk to us and sign autographs and such is something that I think is really special.

Well I don’t know what’s kosher here, this is kind of new for me, but if you tell your readers to contact these places and say ‘We’d like to see David Kagen at these conventions.’ I’m sure that would help. I think that would make a difference to hear it from the fans.

I for one hope to see you at the conventions as I love what you added to what ultimately could’ve been a throwaway role. You really were terrific and you made it more than just let’s see this guy die.

Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.

If you have a favorite convention, and you’d like to talk to Sheriff Garris [aka David Kagen], let them know. He really is a nice guy and a talented actor. Can you tell I dug Jason Lives?


Extra Tidbit: David teaches acting for film in Studio City, California. You can find out more at www.davidkagen.com.
Source: AITH

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