Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday opened like any other Friday the 13th movie. An attractive young woman arrives at the seemingly deserted Camp Crystal Lake and immediately strips off to take a shower. When the house is thrown into darkness she goes to investigate, whilst still wearing nothing but a towel. Stepping out onto the landing, Jason Voorhees suddenly jumps from out of the shadows and almost takes her head clean off with his machete. Running outside into the woods, the woman is chased by Jason but then suddenly the FBI appear with machine guns and a rocket and blow him to pieces. The woman, at first believed to be his next victim, is revealed to be an undercover agent and the trap was created in order to destroy Jason once and for all. In the role of Agent Marcus (named after the film’s director, Adam Marcus) was Julie Michaels, a rising actress and stuntwoman whose subsequent career would see her work alongside such stars as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pamela Anderson.
Michaels’ career would begin whilst studying NCAA Gymnastics at the University of Washington, when an injury would prompt her to seek an alternative way to fund her studies. Entering the Miss America Pageant, Michaels won two titles and would then audition for Follies on Broadway, which would soon be followed by Dreamgirls USA in Los Angeles. Attracting the attention of Hollywood producer Joel Silver, Michaels would land her first acting role as Denise in the 1989 action hit Road House, in which she would appear alongside heartthrob Patrick Swayze. Despite feeling awkward about kissing her co-star and the nudity required for the role, Michaels would receive support from his wife, Lisa Niemi, who would offer the newcomer much needed advice. Michaels would encounter tragedy during the shoot, however, when her boyfriend committed suicide, although she would prove her dedication to the role when, the following morning, she was performing a strip scene for the movie.
Despite her reservations about becoming an actress, Michaels was taught martial arts under the guidance of Sensei Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, a legendary kickboxer who has also appeared in movies alongside such action stars as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan. Michaels’ next significant – albeit minor – role came two years later with a memorable turn in Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break (once again starring Swayze), in which she would share a fight scene with Keanu Reeves whilst naked. Although not a fan of the horror genre, Michaels was cast as Agent Marcus in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, in which she performed all of her stunts, including falling over a bannister onto the ground below. Kane Hodder, once again reprising the role of Jason, was known for his method approach to the role and would adopt the technique during the scene in which Michaels runs out of the cabin in an attempt to escape from Jason. Hodder, who was not supposed to be acting during this specific shot, was hiding behind the door (without the knowledge of either the crew or his co-star) and jumped out, scaring Michaels and prompting her to jump over the car instead of running around it. Marcus must have been impressed with the take as this was used in the final cut.
Having completed her work on Jason Goes to Hell, Michaels read for a role in another horror picture, Kevin Tenney’s low budget sequel Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway. Having attended the auditions with blonde hair, the film’s casting director, Tedra Gabriel, refused to allow her to try out for the part as he said she was not suitable. Dyeing her hair and requesting that her agent re-submit her under an alias, Michaels eventually landed the role. Throughout her subsequent career Michaels would balance her acting chores with a variety of dangerous stunts, most notably when she appeared as a stand-in for Pamela Anderson on the 1996 movie Barb Wire. One sequence required her character to jump from a second-storey fire escape onto a track whilst being handcuffed to her co-star, but the stunt would backfire and Michaels would break her back. Although her acting career had failed to take off as she had hoped (despite appearances in Baywatch), Michaels was soon in demand as a stuntwoman and would work on such high profile projects as Batman & Robin, Titanic (an experience she considers a low point due to several of her colleagues being injured during the shoot) and The Scorpion King.
Following her accident on the set of Barb Wire, Michaels almost encountered further injuries whilst working on the 2001 comedy Rat Race, which nearly resulted in her getting her hair caught in a helicopter’s tail rotor. Following a comic turn in the horror Vampire Resurrection (also known as Song of the Vampire and released through Charles Band’s Full Moon), Michaels appeared in a variety of television shows, including She Spies, Desperate Housewives and House M.D.. Michaels would later find a new fan base when her likeness was used for the character Rayda in AC Comics’ Femforce, whilst in late 2009 there was also discussion that she would be cast in the role for a live action adaptation. Most recently, Michaels appeared in an episode of Lionsgate Television’s hit show Weeds and is set to co-star in the fantasy The Legends of Nethiah.