Bob DeSimone first turned to acting with minor roles in several genre pictures directed by his brother, cult filmmaker Tom DeSimone. Following appearances in Chatterbox and Savage Streets (which Tom DeSimone was originally scheduled to direct), Bob DeSimone was cast in a minor part in the latest Friday the 13th flick.
Bob DeSimone discusses his experiences working on Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.
How did you first break into the movie industry and was it helpful having a brother who was a director?
I broke into the movies from doing stand-up. But, before that, I came to CA. as a drummer, worked in several bands, played with Taj Mahal, lots of studio work. Wound up in a band that signed on with Atlantic Records. We opened for Linda Ronstadt, America, Fleetwood Mack, and bands of that era. I was always intrigued by comedy and when the band went south I headed to the Comedy Story and gave it a shot. It got me going in TV. Did some TV shows and commercials as well. Make Me Laugh was a lot of fun. Having Tommy as a brother was somewhat helpful. There was ONE problem, though. He always had a hard time ‘Seeing’ me as anyone BUT ‘Bobby.’ It made it difficult. Assistants and producers would love what I did, but then again, they didn’t know me as he did. He always had problems with ‘friends’ or ‘family’ in his films. I’m in Palm Springs with him now (Thanksgiving). He says, ‘Hello.’
What led to your involvement in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning? As the movie followed on from The Final Chapter, were you hesitant about appearing in what was obviously an ever-decreasing franchise?
Danny Steinmann and I met on anther film. He told me he loved my work and any film he did, he wanted me on. We lost touch and when he was signed to do Friday, I got a call from Tommy. He said, “I notice Danny is going a film. Did you get in touch with him?” Well, I got in touch. All the bigger parts were cast. Danny put me in as Billy.”
What kind of advice did director Danny Steinmann give you regarding how to play your character? Were you given much room to improvise or attempt to flesh out your character before the inevitable death?
Both scenes that I was in had no lines per se. The first scene, I was to open the door and ask the kid to get out. That was it. I improvised the rest. In fact, it unnerved the other actress (I forget her name) that I was ‘eyeing’ her like I was. She actually stopped the scene and said, “He’s making me so nervous!” Steinmann came back with, “Well USE it, then!!!!!” So, when we shot it again, I couldn’t resist the little ‘tongue’ thing. Kinda my was of saying, “Fuck you” to her! The car scene. Again, no real lines. The script read that ‘Billy pulls up, calls for his girl, and does Coke while waiting for her.’ Danny was happy with the first scene I was in, and said, “You wanna Improvise in this scene? Go ahead, do what you want. We’ll just roll the cameras. Have a good time.” I was in heaven! A stunt driver drove up, got out, they took the passenger side door off and set up the shot. That was it. I put the coke (fake) up in the visor and told Danny I was ready. It was great fun for me. Being able to basically write your own scene on the fly. No script to worry about.
Do you think that the killer not being Jason, but a copycat, was a cheat on the fans who had come to see a Jason movie and why do you think Danny made the killer such an obvious suspect?
To be totally honest with you, I only saw the film once. It was at the wrap party. I didn’t get that involved in the script. I guess I would have if I had stayed in touch with Danny and actually gotten a larger role.
Over the years, the Friday the 13th movies have become a huge part of pop culture and are one of the most lucrative franchises in cinema history. Are you proud of your place in the series and how well do you feel the movie has aged?
Proud? Yes… of my part, I can say, as a performer, I’m happy with what I did. I had no idea of its impact until recently. I let the webmaster use my email address, and I was shocked at how many fans there are out there. I’ve have people writing to me from all over the world, not only for an autograph, but they send my lines in the movie along with their request! It’s amazing how these films have endured, and the fans they’ve picked up over time.
What can you reveal about the drug abuse that was rife during the making of A New Beginning? Was it as out of control as some people have stated or was it just a typical mid-’80s film set?
Well now… I can tell you this… what I used in my scene was Baby Laxative! Really! As for the other, I was only on the set a couple of days. I was aware of it, but I think that’s all I can say. Sets in the ’80s were like that, at least the ones I had been on. Not everyone, but the crew, because of their long hours and all would usually be holding. This would no doubt find its way throughout the production. Basically, people who did those things would do them on the set as well. And in the same token, those who didn’t, didn’t.
A New Beginning has often been referred to as the most brutal and sleazy entry in the series, due to many effects shots and scenes of nudity that were cut out of the finished movie. What can you reveal of this and was any of your scenes cut?
Sadly, I can’t shed any light on that. I only saw the finished product once, and wasn’t on the set for much more than my scenes.
Have you attended any conventions over the years and how do you think Friday the 13th: A New Beginning has affected your life and career? What have you been doing over the twenty-plus years since the movie?
Well, yes, I have been invited to some conventions. I haven’t as of yet accepted any, but probably will in the future. I’ve retired from showbiz since, but stilll play drums. Currently in a funk, R&B Band called Maddjakk. Not looking for fame any more, just play local gigs and have a good time. I’ve owned my own business since the ’80s that has done very well, married in ’94 to my beautiful wife, Lisa. We have two amazing and beautiful girls, Amanda, 11 and Gianna, 9. We live in Santa Rosa Valley, Ca.