Until Crystal Lake Memories and Making Friday the 13th were released a few years back, most fans believed that C.J. Graham had played Jason Voorhees throughout Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. But the first actor cast to play the newly resurrected ‘zombie’ Jason was newcomer Dan Bradley who, after being fired from the production, would become one of the most respected and successful stunt coordinators in Hollywood. Bradley was introduced to performing at a young age, as his father was the director of a community theatre in San Fernando Valley and Bradley would be taught stage fighting with his five siblings. By the time that he had reached his teens, Bradley was already an experienced scuba diver and had developed a keen interest in street car racing on Van Nuys Boulevard. His passion for danger soon progressed to rock climbing and, perhaps inevitably, stunt work.
Bradley’s movie career commenced in 1983 with Ulli Lommel’s science fiction thriller BrainWaves, which would lead to a slew of low budget productions; The Devonsville Terror (once again with Lommel), Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Trancers. Following an eighteen-day stint on Stuart Gordon’s cult splatter flick Re-Animator, in which he would invite several of his school friends to appear as corpses, Bradley landed his big break as the stunt coordinator on New Line Cinema’s highly anticipated sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Following the tradition that was first started with The Final Chapter in 1984, the producers of the latest Friday the 13th installment requested that a stuntman be cast in the role of Jason, particularly due to the various dangerous set pieces that the script would demand (including an RV flipping onto its side, skidding down the road and then setting on fire).
Due to his already impressive résumé, Bradley was ultimately cast and transformed into the now-decaying Jason. The first day of filming would be a sequence in a forest during a paintball tournament between a group of company executives, with which writer-director Tom McLoughlin would demonstrate his love of slapstick and comedy. By the end of the second day, all of the daylight sequences with Jason had been filmed but Frank Mancuso Jr., who had championed the franchise after taking over as producer for Part 3, was disappointed with the diallies and demanded that McLoughlin fire Bradley and recast the role. At the urging of Becker, Graham was given three days to view the previous movies and have his head cast in preparation for joining the production the following Monday.
Following his brief time on the set of Jason Lives, Bradley continued to work on low budget genre pictures with House, Trick or Treat and the Critters series, before gaining mainstream exposure with Forrest Gump, Casino and Independence Day. With Three Kings in 1999, Bradley began to write all of the action sequences in his films himself, collaborating with his directors on utilising their script’s set pieces to their full potential. With his company, GO Stunts (co-founded with fellow stuntmen Scott Rogers and Darrin Prescott), Bradley has become the most in-demand stunt coordinator and second unit director in the industry, as well as revolutionising many of the techniques used in Hollywood on their big budget action movies. Bradley’s most recent projects have included Spider-Man 2 and 3, The Bourne Supremacy (and The Bourne Ultimatum), Crank, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Quantum of Solace.