We all enjoy the great horror movies like Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, and my all time favorite Nightmare on Elm Street. We take great pleasure in watching, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees , and Freddy Krueger terrorize, slice, and strangle people.
But, who are the people behind the masks? In some cases, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. In the Friday the Thirteenth, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween movies, there was more than one portrayer of Jason, Leatherface, and Michael.
Friday the Thirteenth – The Many Faces of Jason Voorhees
Below are the eight faces of Jason Voorhees. In the first movie, we see a young Jason, but when Jason grows into adulthood on the big screen, aside from good acting ability, the producers were looking for large men to play Jason.
Therefore, from the third movie on, all of the actors portraying Jason are over six feet tall and have a large build. Also, you’ll notice that a lot of them are stunt men.
If you remember, Jason didn’t start wearing a mask until the third sequel, so the first two Jasons didn’t really have masks, just gobs of makeup. Ari Lehman played the very first Jason Voorhees (a younger Jason) in 1980.
Lehman is a film actor and stunt man here and there, but he’s also a pop music recording artist, who goes by the name Ari Ben Moses. Check out the two pictures. Jason portrayed by Lehman looks like Lehman was out drinking the night before and has one killer hangover.
Born Francis Warrington Gillette in Baltimore, Maryland, Gillette played the part of Jason Voorhees in Friday the Thirteenth Part 2. Unlike most people who get a big break in Hollywood, Gillette didn’t continue a career in acting. In fact, he’s a clothing entrepreneur on the East Coast. I think sales are better when Gillette is not in makeup.
Brooker, born in London in 1954, was the first to wear the famous hockey mask in Friday the Thirteenth Part 3 (1982). Brooker is a former polo player, trapeze artist, and circus manager. He is currently a television show producer.
White was a professional stunt double for movies and television and has doubled for actors such as John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Richard Boone. Though Ted White portrayed Jason in the 1984 movie Friday the Thirteenth Part 4, he doesn’t like to be associated with the part. He says that he wasn’t thrilled to take the role, but he needed the money.
Tom Morga, our fifth “Jason”, is a professional stunt man for television and movies and has been since 1976. He’s done stunts for such movies as some of the Star Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
C. J. Graham:
As the actor of Jason Voorhees in Friday the Thirteenth Part 6, Graham wasn’t the original person chosen for the part. In fact five days after the original person was chosen, C. J. Graham was given a call because the director said that the other guy didn’t have what he was looking for in the role. Graham jumped at the chance and showed the right stuff to be effective in this Friday the Thirteenth sequel.
Kane Hodder, born in Auburn, California in 1955 is perhaps who comes to mind the most when we think of Jason Voorhees because he played the part in four consecutive Friday the Thirteenth movies (Parts 7 through 10). He is still an active stunt double, stunt coordinator, and actor in Hollywood.
Lastly, we have Ken Kirzinger originally from Saskatchewan, Canada who portrayed Jason in Friday the Thirteenth Part 11. Kirzinger is still currently working in Hollywood as a stunt double and stunt coordinator.
Nightmare on Elm Street – Freddy Kreuger
Most people know that the very talented Robert Englund played Freddy Kreuger in all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. In fact, we’ve seen in without the mask quite a bit over the last three decades as Englund has been acting in the movies and television from 1974 to the present day.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Leatherface
Of the five men that played Leatherface, you will see a diverse group. However, like the actors of Jason Voorhees, the actors of Leatherface were all rather large men. This again was probably for the intimidation factor.
Gunnar Hansen was the first Leatherface in the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. Hansen is no longer directly in show business, but instead is a writer. He writes books, screenplays, and documentaries.
Bill Johnson played the role of Leatherface in the second The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie in 1986. He’s still an actor and will occasionally show up in small roles on the big screen, but mainly performs locally in Texas.
R. A. Mihailoff:
Born in Augusta, Maine, this former professional wrestler went into acting with his debut on The Lathe of Heaven (1980), a science fiction movie made for television. His next role was as Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), the last of the original “Texas Massacre” movies. He continues to make appearances with small roles in several movies.
In its release in 1994, we saw Robert Jacks play Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Seven years later on August 8, 2001, the day before his 42nd birthday, Jacks died of an abdominal aneurysm.
Former body builder, Andrew Bryniarski played Leatherface in two movies: the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006). He’s also played several other movie roles including Charles “Chip” Shreck in the movie Batman Returns (1992) and Zangief in Street Fighter (1994).
It – Pennywise the Dancing Clown (It)
Have you ever even wondered who was behind the evil clown face in the movie It (1990) based on Stephen King’s novel? It was actor, composer, and singer Tim Curry. He’s also been in other films such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Hunt for Red October. In 1981, Curry even had the honor of hosting Saturday Night Live.
Halloween: The Many Faces of Michael Myers
When casting each the seven men who played Michael Myers, the producers of the Halloween sequel seemed to be more in tuned to looking at acting ability more so than size. In fact, the producers were extremely effective on finding actors that portrayed Michael Myers in the creepiest way possible. They were all brilliant!
In 1978, we witnessed the first of a new horror sequel, Halloween with a new horror villain, Michael Myers. As there have been several actors to play the part of Michael Myers, Nick Castle was the very first. Since that point, Castle acted in a few other movies in small parts until 1986. However, he began to direct television shows in 1982 and still does so today.
Now retired, Warlock played Michael Myers in the second and third Halloween movies. However, as an actor, but mainly stunt double, perhaps his largest accomplishment wasn’t this role in the Halloween sequel, but rather as Kurt Russell’s stunt double for over 25 years.
George P. Wilbur:
Now retired, George P. Wilbur was a stunt man for 40 years, but he’s best known for his acting role in the fourth and sixth Halloween movies in his portrayal of Michael Myers.
Don Shanks has been a stunt man and an actor for over 25 years. However, this Cherokee Native American is best known for his role in the fifth Halloween movie.
Chris Durand was the starring role as Michael Myers in the 1998 film Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. For most of his Hollywood career, Durand has been a stunt man. In fact, he was a professional stunt man from 1989 up until 2005. However, he is still currently acting.
We saw Brad Loree’s portrayal of Michael Myers in the 2002 movie Halloween Resurrection, but Loree is a renown stunt double in Hollywood and has an extensive list of stunt performances on many television and movie sets since 1985. He’s also been an actor on television and in the movies since 1993.
Tyler Mane, born Daryl Karolat on December 8, 1966 in Saskatchewan, Canada, isn’t only well known for his performance in the 2007 film Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Up until 1996, he wasn’t an actor at all. In fact, he was a professional wrestler. From 1989 to 1996, you may have known him by such names as “Nitro”, “The Big Sky”, and “Skywalker”. He is now pursuing his career as an actor.
Perhaps horror movies sequels such as Friday the Thirteenth, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween have been able to endure of many years because of their masked men. It’s the mask that allows more than one actor to play the part and your image of what the character looks like isn’t shattered. It also helps give great diversity to these horror movies as each one of these actors brings us something new and exciting, though we still have the same visual image of our favorite horror movie villains.
Conversely, it’s also nice to have the consistency of one actor as we see in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Robert Englund perfected the role of Freddy Krueger so much that I really think that if anyone else took his place, it wouldn’t have been as big of a hit. The great part is that we have a talented actor who constantly gave us thrills and chills on the big screen. However, the bad part is that actors age. Therefore, Freddy Krueger may not live on forever while Jason Voorhees and others certainly could.