INTERVIEW: Christian Sellers
How did you first hear about FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 and did you audition for a specific role? What was asked of you during your audition and who did you meet during this process?
“A good friend at the time, Harris Kal (recurring role on Happy Days) with whom I was studying at an acting school in North Hollywood told me about an interview he’d been on where the casting directors had been particularly nice, which is not always the case. He said that I should for sure go meet these guys; so I set it up and went in to read for them. And indeed, they were very cool. I went in scheduled to read for the same part my friend had auditioned for (Andy). At the end of the audition, the casting directors said that I wasn’t really right for that part but I was right for the lead and they asked me if I would come back the next day to read for the producer and director. Of course I said yes and on my way out they gave me some background on the character – that he was not a city boy, but a guy who lived in the mountains and probably worked in construction. They suggested that I not wear nice ‘interview’ clothes but something consistent with the character. On my next audition I showed up wearing blue jeans, work boots, parka, and I came in carrying lumber over my shoulder and a Skil Saw. Well, everybody loved that, including producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. and director Steve Miner. The reading went well and they were trying to get a sense of my personality by asking me some questions. They asked me what I thought of Part 1 and Part 2; when I shrugged and told them that horror films weren’t my thing they rolled their eyes as if to say, ‘Oh geez, just our luck!’.”
As with many of the sequels, during pre-production FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 was originally known under a different name. Can you remember what it was called and at what point were you told the truth?
“I think the working title was Crystal Lake or something similar. Once we were on location, it was well known that this was a F13 production.”
Did you get to read the script before you were given the role of Rick and what were your thoughts on the story and how the characters were written?
“Yes, I had done two months of screen tests as they were trying to find the leading actress for the film so I had a glimpse of some of the script. Once we started filming a couple of months later the script was constantly being updated. I liked my character because he wasn’t goofy like many of the other characters (ok, maybe the hayloft scene was a little goofy). By the way, my character’s name in the script was Derek and was changed to Rick when it was realized that Dana’s character couldn’t scream a two syllable word as easily as a one syllable word.”
Were you a fan of the horror genre at that time and how did you feel about the genre during the early 1980’s, particularly with regards to the slasher film which had become immensely popular?
“I always hesitate to say this, but I’m not really a fan of the horror genre. I think the genre carved a deep niche for itself during the 1980’s that is sorely missed today. I think that there’s a real opportunity for someone to step up and make a simple, yet powerful horror movie in the same vein as the early F13 films where it’s fairly believable and realistically scary, but slightly ‘campy’.”
When did you first get to meet your co-stars and did you all immediately become friends? As many of them had been literally taken from the streets what was the general atmosphere on set?
“Actually, although most of us hadn’t had much experience, we had all been studying for some time. We were all so excited to be working on the film and the set on location was like going to camp. Lots of laughs, games, great food and yes, good friendships developed. During the preproduction period I played tennis with Steve Miner and became friends with many of the cast.”
Were you dubious about working alongside 3D, especially as how notoriously difficult it can be to act with? Were there any specific difficulties you remember having during the shoot?
“No, I had no clue as to the potential technical difficulties that we’d be facing during the filming. The setups definitely took longer because of the 3D, but then everything takes forever on any film (except low budget DV films). The cinematography crew used a Looma crane which had its own set of difficulties because I think it was a relatively new piece of filming equipment. We also had one weekend where thousands of bees nested in the cabin which delayed shooting for a few days. The weather wreaked havoc on us as it ran from scorching heat to freezing cold. One accident occurred which was nearly fatal when a dolly scaffolding collapsed.”
Were you given any major back story or details regarding your character, specifically how old Rick was or how he knew Chris? He seemed a lot more mature than the other protagonists, were you told any more than what was revealed in the script?
“Not really. Only that Rick and Chris had been ‘an item’ the previous season and he was frustrated at her holding back as he greeted her that first day, teased her in the barn/hayloft scene and confronted her that night at the lake. Also, as you noticed, he wasn’t as young or immature as her goofball friends; but actually, both Rick and Chris were somewhat ‘separate’ from the others, which lent to the drama when they returned from the lake and were alone. Then when Rick is killed, it ramps up the suspense.”
One of the characters, Debbie, was pregnant and is later murdered along with her boyfriend. Were any questions raised as to what the writers were intending by including this as her situation seems to add nothing to the story?
“Wow, I never really thought about that but that is a pretty creepy plot line, now that you mention it. Maybe it just added to the heinous nature to the whole massacre; or it added to Jason’s callousness.”
As many of the characters from both PART 2 and PART 3 were carbon copies of those from the first film, would you say that Rick was a counterpart to FRIDAY THE 13TH’s Steve Christie and PART 2’s Paul Holt? What kind of instructions were you given on how to portray the character?
“I’ve never seen Part 1 or Part 2 so I really couldn’t say. I wasn’t given any direction about my character one way or another. The director Steve Miner pretty much left it up to me. I think a general statement would be that an actor usually doesn’t want to be influenced by another’s performance or portrayal so will avoid that type of background work unless requested to do so.”
PART 3 is notable for the introduction of the hockey mask, which is first seen when Jason fires a spear into Vera’s eye. Can you remember who suggested using the mask and was there any indication that the filmmakers may wish to use it again in the future?
“I wasn’t around when that “Icon of Horror” was birthed nor did I have any knowledge of any discussions about its future appearances. Larry Zerner (‘Shelly’) could probably answer that question much better.”
What are your thoughts on your death scene, where your eyeballs fly out towards the camera. In 3D this is an impressive effect but on the normal release it looks rather humorous. What can you remember about the day that scene was shot and did you get to keep the prosthetic head?
“Man, I wish I could have kept that mannequin – that would have been very cool. A little back story on my death scene: Two months prior to the start of filming I was sent to the special effects lab to have the mould made that would ultimately become the life size replica of myself. I was covered in plaster over my upper torso and then finally covered in silicon when they completely covered my face, including my nose and mouth with only two straws sticking out of my nostrils to allow me to breathe. It was extraordinarily claustrophobic for a few minutes as they were using an electric saw to cut the mould off of my head. It was three in the morning the night we shot that scene and when they wheeled out the ‘model’ of me, it was totally creepy, no doubt about it. It took a lot of work to line up the central axis of the lens with the center of the eyeball. And yes, in the theatre the 3D looks pretty good; or it did in 1982 anyway. Now it seems a bit cheesy, especially on a TV.”
Were you present for any of the actors’ deaths and, if so, do you remember how much gore was cut out prior to release? What can you reveal about the alternative ending that was filmed but never released where Jason decapitates Chris during a dream sequence?
“No I wasn’t present during any one else’s death scenes so I have no idea what was cut to get the ‘R’ rating. I’ve only heard from fans like yourself about an alternate ending – I knew nothing about it during the filming.”
What effect did PART 3 have on your career and how come you decided to change your profession to become a chiropractor? What made you decide to return to acting all those years later?
“Well, I made a strategic mistake after making Part 3 in that I changed agents. The new agent seemed to think that the F13 role would catapult me to another level when we should have simply built upon it with more appropriate roles. I realized also that the career of an actor is very insecure and that many very talented actors languish in poverty their entire careers. I wasn’t comfortable that I wanted to dedicate my life to something so unpredictable so I went back to college with the plan to get a degree in marine biology and then decided to go on to graduate school at Life Chiropractic School West. I’ve really missed acting and always harboured a desire to continue acting, so when I left active practice one of my goals was to see if I could get some film work. Scott Goldberg, an awesome young director in New York has been kind enough to use me in a few of his films which has been a great gift for me.”
Have you attended many conventions over the years to meet fans of the series and was it an enjoyable experience reminiscing about your role for CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES and HIS NAME WAS JASON?
“I’ve only been to a couple of conventions and they’ve been a great experience in that F13 fans are awesome! They’re so friendly and kind that I feel a real sense of loyalty to them. Peter Bracke who authored CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES is a prince of a man – a highly dedicated writer and a consummate professional. For his book, we talked for nearly two hours and I came to really respect his commitment to his craft. When he invited me to the launch party at Universal Studios, I was stunned by the quality and beauty of his book – it’s one of my prized F13 possessions. I recently ran into him at a film studio in LA where they were filming some interviews for a F13 documentary to coincide with the release of the F13 remake.”
Are you pleased to see the movie finally released on video in 3D and how do you feel the effects compare to modern 3D?
“Actually, I wasn’t aware that it had been released in 3D on video – that’s awesome! What’s it like?”
Your friend, Scott Goldberg, told me last May that you were expressing interest in appearing in the recent remake. Sadly nothing came of it but is this true and what made you want to become a part of the series again? Have you seen the new movie and which character would you have liked to have played?
“Well, I heard about the making of the remake at the last minute so it was nearly impossible for me to properly get in touch with the production firm. Plus, sadly I don’t have a demo reel right now – Scott’s helping me put one together as we speak, so hopefully that will help my ‘comeback’. I haven’t seen the new movie – how is it?”