Zack Ward’s brief-yet-memorable cameo in Freddy vs. Jason, in which he would appear in the nightmare of Mark (Brendan Fletcher) as his older brother, who had supposedly committed suicide some years earlier, would prove to be one of the highlights of the movie. With Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) having taken the form of Mark’s brother, Ward gave a convincing impression of Krueger, impersonating both his mannerisms and facial expressions (although Englund would provide the voiceover).
Since working on the film, Ward has also appeared in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Charmed, Lost and Uwe Boll’s surprisingle entertaining (if flawed) black comedy Postal.
Zack Ward gives his thoughts on Freddy vs. Jason.
How did you first become involved in Freddy vs. Jason? Were you a fan of either series and were you interested in the project prior to being offered the role?
I loved the movies as a kid and can still remember being thunderstruck watching the commercial for the first one. When the girl (forgot name, sorry) sits into the chair and then falls through it!. Scared the hell out of me. It was the first horror movie that wasn’t just hack and slash, it had a real mythology, and made more sense than Phantasm. It had blood and magic, and I was a Dungeons and Dragons geek so it was mana from heaven. I heard that Freddy vs. Jason was being shot and finagled a script. Fortunately, there was a perfect cameo for me playing the brother to Brendan Fletcher, who I’ve known for a while. Got the part, got fitted for the prosthetics (super cool) and walked on set… naked. Well, not completely naked as I had on a skin colored jock, or as we in the business call a ‘cock sock.’ But it was a strange way to be introduced to the crew, especially after sitting in a bathtub full of blood, the ‘cock sock’ turned into a wet t-shirt competition for my nads and everyone could tell my religion, if you know what I mean.
Do you feel that the script mixed the two franchises well, and how did you feel about the movie aiming more towards a slapstick, comic book feel?
I have still have the original script and man, is it different from the movie, much darker and grittier, like a Batman Begins compared to Spider-Man 3. I understand why they pulled away from the darker script and went with the carnival ride: they were scared of putting off new fans and losing money. That’s what it always comes down to. But also, that was at a transitional time in horror films. The industry was just making the jump from Jason X in outer space to Hostel and Saw. They were scared; go risky and lose your core audience and scare off a new breed of fans, or stick to the schmaltzy slapstick ‘fun’ stuff that doesn’t offend anyone, no religious groups picketing your theaters and you still have a bunch of Last Action Hero-style one-liners that people can quote around the water cooler when they’re playing with their Freddy doll. I guess they made the right decision because the franchise is still alive and moving on to Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and the rumored Nightmare remake. I bet they’ll stick with comedy in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash but go gritty and real for the remake.
How did you prepare for your role? Did you study Robert Englund’s previous performances as your character is really Freddy using the image of Mark’s dead brother to manipulate him? How helpful was Robert with giving you advice on how to play Freddy?
I spent time with Brendan and we built a back story relationship for the brothers. We hung out and told each other tales of when we were kids, creating a feeling of history. Then Robert Englund put me through Freddy school. How to walk, tilt your head, smile, move your hands, enunciate, the works. It was great. Robert is sweet man and passionate about his work, very inspiring. After all these Freddy films he still has the drive to make it all matter and I think it’s that dedication to craft that catches the fans and drags them smiling through each film
Did you enjoy being subjected to so much make-up? How long were you on set for and how straight forward were your scenes to shoot?
I was on location for about a week. Most of what I shot never made it to the film. The make-up was easy as they had a great SP/FX team. Luckily it wasn’t on my face so it didn’t drive me crazy. Most of the scenes were pretty simple, once you get over walking around with your bum hanging out of an assless jock strap. The part in the bathtub was difficult only because the blood got in my eyes making it hard to see. Otherwise it was a great fun shoot. I even brought my mom on set as we were shooting in Vancouver where she lived at the time. Honestly, having your mom with you when your naked and covered in fake blood makes everything feel better, like cookies and milk.
Would you rather have had a more substantial role in the movie? Which other character would you like to have played?
Sure, but who? I guess Deputy Stubbs, but honestly, Lochlyn Munroe was perfect for the part. He’s a good guy and old friend and I couldn’t begrudge him anything. Trust me, I want to play Freddy in the remake and ROCK THAT SHIT, but I’ve done a lot of films, played a lot of parts, and I’ve learned you just can’t look backwards or it’ll drive you crazy. Now, on the other hand, I would have LOVED for all my stuff to still be IN THE MOVIE. I had a two-page monologue in the original script that was AWESOME. But that got pruned down to twenty seconds of pounding exposition. But you know the actors motto, “What four letter word do you say after every film? NEXT.”
What was your opinion on the movie when you finally saw it finished? Did Freddy vs. Jason have any impact on your career and have you attended any conventions since to promote your appearance?
I was disappointed for myself as what I shot wasn’t on the screen, and we shot some really cool shit. It hasn’t affected my career, stuff like that doesn’t make an impact, just another film notch on the belt. If it doesn’t make you an international name that guarantees foreign sales then it doesn’t affect how and what type of jobs you get; thats just the way the industry works. I don’t really do the convention circuit, although I do go to Fangoria to promote my film Postal, and I find I’ve got a lot of fans from all the horror films I’ve done. Apparently people like watching me die or being dead. I’m not sure if that’s healthy,but I’ll keep doing it as long as I can, and when I really die, I’ll charge a cover price to come to the funeral. But it’ll be worth it! I’ll have them prop the coffin up and people can take pictures with me. Trust me, I won’t mind.