Russell Todd’s first foray into acting came with a minor role in the low budget thriller He Knows You’re Alone, which also marked on the screen debut of future Hollywood star Tom Hanks. This would lead to Russell being signed with a talent agent and landing the part of Scott in Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2. Roles that would follow would include such classics as Jim Wynorski’s science fiction flick Chopping Mall.
Russell Todd talks about his time on the set of Friday the 13th Part 2.
How did you win the part of Scott in Friday the 13th Part 2 and what were the auditions like for such a movie? Having already appeared in the previous year’s He Knows You’re Alone, what kind of genre experience did you feel you brought to the role and were you a fan of those kind of teen horrors?
I saw an ad in the NY Backstage paper and thought, “What the hell, I can do that!” i went on the audition without an agent and got a call a few days later offering me the part. I was so excited knowing what a hit the first Friday the 13th was and to be making the sequel was pretty cool. I felt I had no advantage whatsoever having done a bit part in another horror flick prior. I really wasn’t a big fan of horror prior but started seeing more of the genre and realizing how popular they really were.
Was it an enjoyable experience working on a low budget movie in the woods? What were the positive and negative points to making a non-union film?
We had a blast out at the lake making the film. All of the crew and other actors would try and scare each other on the walk back from the lake to our cabins. They would hide in the bushes and whisper or say the infamous ‘kill, kill, kill’ chant and then jump out. We knew we were making the movie and Jason wasn’t real but it still made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck now and then taking that route home at night! It was a great group of actors and crew that got along very well and we laughed often, perhaps to soften the gore we were creating all around us. I think it was a union film or became one since I have been getting residuals from SAG for ever! May it play forever on every Friday the 13th!
How unpleasant was your death scene, as you spent it hanging upside down? The original effects were rather bloody but the MPAA were forced to trim the gore down, can you shed any light on what was cut out?
Being strung up side down for a few hours would normally be very uncomfortable and not too fun but when you knew it was due to making the sequel to Friday the 13th all that disappeared and it was pure joy! My best friend John Caglione Jr. had cast my neck for a foam latex appliance that would have the pre cut wound in it and tubing running from it up my leg to a guy in the tree with a pup. When Jason slices my throat I just had to lean my head back to reveal the pre cut wound and the blood would be pumped to it. Well, it pumped and pumped and pumped and went on for what seemed like hours. I was trying to stay in character and do my best death work but the blood was finally running into my eyes and causing REAL pain.
Eventually, the cameras stopped rolling and I was just covered in blood. Perhaps too gruesome for the MPAA but very effective. On a funny side not, they saved my death scene for my last day of work. I has called home that day to tell my folks about the scene and they got extremely nervous. It seems they were afraid they saved my death scene for the last day because I was really going to be killed and this might be a snuff film I was making! They had never heard of the original film and even though Paramount’s name was attached to it, they were still gravely concerned.
What was your opinion on the look of Jason in the movie, somewhat resembling The Elephant Man, and the way the character has become such a recognisable figure? Are you proud of your place in the Friday the 13th history and what do you think of the movie itself?
When you see how Jason’s look has grown and changed it seems very basic and simplistic how he was costumed and made up in our film. But all things have a beginning stage and grow from there. It worked fine for the film and obviously had a strong impact on the viewers anyway. I am very proud to be part of such a legacy and look back at it as one of the most enjoyable experiences of my acting career. I was young and full of adventure and adrenaline while making the film and knowing it will be shown all over the world in perpetuity always puts a smile on my face. The film itself stands on it’s own and continues to scare and frighten viewers all these years later. We must have done something right!”