It’s not easy being Jared Padalecki, at least not on the big screen. There’s something about him — maybe it’s the cocky-jock good looks — that beckons the blades of lunatic killers. In House of Wax (notable mostly for its much-lauded Paris Hilton kill), he had his Achilles tendon sliced by a freak mechanic and was embalmed in wax, only to have his face peeled off and then die of shock. You’d think after such an ordeal he might want something a little frothier. But the actor, a regular on the CW series Supernatural, will next play Clay, who heads up to Crystal Lake in search of his missing sister in the highly anticipated remake of Friday the 13th. Big mistake, since Crystal Lake belongs to some guy in a mask named Jason. We spoke to the star about how he prepared to face off against cinema’s most famous killer, and found out that all it takes is a protein shake.
How are you? I had the most absolutely bizarre day yesterday. Right when I was about to call you, I heard my dog yelping. I was on set, and she was screaming and shaking. I went to take her into the trailer, and she started screaming again, so I grabbed her because I thought her paw was hurt, and she bit me on the hand, real quick, and my dog would never growl at me or bite me. Never. I found out that there was a short circuit in the trailer, and she was getting electrocuted. It was a really kind of shitty situation. She was just trying to get away from the stairs.
Is she okay? Yeah she’s okay. She was kind of whacked out for a few hours. But now she’s playing around, there’s snow on the ground up here, so she’s loving it.
How is the shooting of Supernatural? It’s been going really well. Today is our last day before the holidays, but we’re halfway through with our 15th episode, so when we come back we only have about seven and a half episodes left. We’ve really done quite a bit, and we’re all really happy with the work. Season 4 seems like it’s really found its stride.
Do you have a dark side? I guess so. Certainly my body of work would suggest that, but it’s nothing that I planned. I’m not at a point in my career where I can say, “Bring me a comedy,” and then 15 comedies will show up at my door. I came to Supernatural straight from Gilmore Girls, so I’ve had a steady job, and it’s just the way it worked out that the movies I could fit into my schedule that I was excited about were all in the sci-fi, horror, thriller genre.
How did you prepare for your role in Friday the 13th? It’s hard to describe the preparation for Friday the 13th. I don’t have a method … I just try to get some ideas and familiarize myself with the character. I filmed Friday the 13th on April 30th in Austin, Texas, and was filming Supernatural in Vancouver, BC, on April 28, so I flew straight from set to set. If you talk to anybody in the cast, it was kind of a crazy shooting schedule — a lot of handheld, a lot of run-and-gun. It was kind of like guerrilla filmmaking, but I think it’ll turn out great. Physically, I tried to bulk up for the role a little bit. The last thing I wanted to do was watch a movie where some skinny pretty boy was fighting. I tried to work out hard and drank my protein shakes. As it is, I like to work out and keep in shape anyway, so I just tried to lift heavier. And it was a good thing because when I got to set, Derek Meers, who plays Jason, is 6’5”, solid muscle. I am nowhere near that, but at least I looked like I could have run away from him a little better.
Do you end up fighting Jason in the movie? I do, a few times. I get to have a few confrontations with Jason, so I kind of lucked out.
So you got to put your strength to use then? At the end of the day, you’re fighting Jason, and no one can take Jason, but at least I wasn’t 140 pounds.
Has working on all of these horror projects changed your perspective on the fear factor of movies? Has it desensitized you to scary movies? No, not really. That’s one of the great things about horror movies in general — it’s total escapism. Even though I’ve done a few now, I can still go into a movie theater and sit down, and get scared. I thought it might, but it hasn’t.
What was the first movie that really scared you? I don’t know if it was the first one necessarily, but Stephen King’s It, about the clown. That was awesome. I loved it, it was terrifying and would give me nightmares, and I’ll still go back and watch it.
Did you ever try on Jason’s mask? I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t. You know what, maybe if they have it at the premiere or something, or maybe if I sneak in. I think it’s on high-security lockup right now. I didn’t even think about that. I totally should have done that! I’m so pissed off that I didn’t do it! Maybe it would have ruined Derek’s mojo. It’s like the pitcher’s mound. You can’t walk up on the pitchers mound. Maybe he doesn’t want anyone trying on his Jason mask. I wouldn’t want to piss him off.
What did you and the cast do in your free time in the creepy woods in Austin? I’m from San Antonio, which is an hour south of Austin, so I when I found out that the movie was shooting in Austin, I was ecstatic. I have a bunch of friends in Austin, so we’d go out to eat, and I’d go out to Lake Travis and wakeboard and jog around Town Lake. Austin’s a great city, so we just hung out. The cast got really close, and we still send each other funny emails. The guys and gals who all live in LA actually see each other, but I’m the lone wolf who’s off in snowy Canada. Everybody’s sending emails like, “Hey we’re all hanging out at the Platinum Dunes (Michael Bay’s production company responsible for the remake) Christmas party, wish you were here.” And I’m like yeah, I’m on set, I’ve got fake blood all over my face and my shirt, and I’m cold.
How were Danielle and Amanda compared to Paris Hilton and Elisha Cuthbert? They were great. I was lucky enough to do a lot more work with Danielle and Amanda than I did with Elisha and Paris in House of Wax. I wasn’t there for a lot of the physical stuff that Elisha had to do, and I didn’t really film a whole lot of the same scenes with Paris. But I got to see first-hand Amanda and Danielle doing the stunt bits, and getting beat up and bruised up, and just rolling with the punches. They were champs.
How did you decompress after a long day of screaming and shooting? A lot of times I like to have a glass of scotch or beer or something like that to decompress. But the days were so hard and frantic, that by the time I got home, I was literally too tired to twist off a bottle cap. My decompression was collapsing face first on my pillow. On the weekends, I’d drive to San Antonio to see my parents, or drive up to Dallas to see my brother.
After shooting this film, do you think you’ll ever send your kids to summer camp? Probably, if they annoy me enough.
Are you superstitious at all? I do a weird thing: If I’m going under a yellow light or when I’m getting on an airplane, I sort of kiss my finger and touch it to the roof.
Any nervousness about the release date on Friday, February 13th? Not really. I am so looking forward to that day, and being able to see it and have my family and friends see it, that I haven’t really thought about that. I don’t like to fly on Friday the 13th, so hopefully they’re not going to be flying me to some premiere somewhere. I’ve never liked to fly on Friday the 13th, even before I did the movie.
Have you ever sat in the theater in one of your movies before? I have. I’ve snuck into I think every movie that I’ve been in, usually right as they’re about to leave the theaters, a couple weeks or couple months after they’re released. I’ll go with a buddy and go in after the credits have started and sit in the back. That’s usually the only way I’ll watch the movie. I own all of the movies that I’ve been in, but I’ve never watched them. I’ve never been like, “Oh, I’m going to put my movie in.”
When you sneak into the theater are you focusing on the film or the crowd reaction? The film. I’m pretty lucky enough to avoid reaction. I’ve just accepted that there are people who are fans of me for no good reason, so I imagine that there are people who will be non-fans of me for no good reason. I just sort of catch the good with the bad and brush it all off my shoulders. I focus on the film and try to see what I like about my own performance, and what I’d change in the future.
Does anyone ever recognize you? Sometimes I’ll take a photograph beforehand or sign an autograph. I think I’m really sensitive to my own movies, knowing that it’s kind of a danger zone, so I’ll really sneak in — I have my hat down.
Does Clay turn out to be a hero? I’ll answer that with a quote. “Everyone is the hero of their own story.” So, he tries. For fear of the wrath of Michael Bay, that’s all I’m going to say. He certainly gives it a go. He gives it his best shot. So, in my book, he’s a hero.