Whilst many actors have portrayed the character of Jason Voorhees over the years, only one actor has the distinction of being the first ever Jason to don the infamous hockey mask. Whilst he had obscured his features behind a sack in Friday the 13th Part 2, the makers of Part 3 knew that they needed something more memorable for the second sequel. There had also been some concerns over the portrayal of Jason in the previous film, with director Steve Miner and the producers feeling that a lumbering killer who lacks intelligence or aggression was not as menacing as they had hoped. Despite Part 3 being set almost immediately after the events of Part 2, Jason would be undergo a significant makeover, whilst the role would also be recast with someone more athletic and agile. Richard Brooker had only recently relocated to America, following a relatively successful career in Europe as a trapeze artist.
After discovering an advert in a casting magazine called Dramalogue, which requested a tall actor for a role in an upcoming horror movie, Brooker arrived at the audition and met with Miner who, after a short conversation, offered the young actor the part of Jason. The task of redesigning the look of Jason for Part 3 fell to Stan Winston, a rising special effects artist who had befriended Miner years earlier whilst he was still a struggling stand-up comic in Los Angeles. Brooker made his way to Winston’s workshop in Northridge, California, where his face was cast in plaster in order for Winston to create a latex mask for the actor. Despite his impressive work, Miner and the producers felt that the new design looked too much like a monster and so Miner turned to Douglas J. White, of Make-up and Effects Laboratories, to create a new Jason.
Brooker would be subjected to between six and seven hours a day of make-up for approximately two weeks for his unmasked scenes, in which Jason would now be completely bald (as opposed to the random strands of hair he was given in the second movie). With the make-up finally applied by lunch time, Brooker was unable to eat due to the prosthetics and was instead forced to drink tiger’s milk through a straw. Miner would allow Brooker a certain amount of creative freedom in which to portray the role of Jason, even encouraging improvisation with his movements. The only instruction that the director would give him was that he was not to ask what Jason’s motives were, as he kills without reason. Even prior to wearing the hockey mask his co-stars were intimidated by the six-foot-three-inch actor, with Steve Susskind (in the role of gluttonous shopkeeper Harold) nervous during a sequence in which his character was to be hit in the chest with a meat cleaver. Understandably, the most difficult aspect of the shoot for Brooker would be the 3-D, in which he would have to conduct each kill in a very specific manner in order for it to pick up on the dual lenses.
Much speculation has surrounded who was responsible for the introduction of the hockey mask, but all on set were unnerved when Brooker first walked out wearing the mask, for the sequence in which he fires a spear into the eye of Vera (Catherine Parks). Much of Brooker’s unmasking during the climax of the movie would be cut out of the final cut, as an alternative dream sequence would have shown Jason beheading the heroine, Chris (Dana Kimmell), although the producers eventually settled on an ending that paid homage to the original movie. Whilst Jason’s new mask would become a symbol of popular culture, Brooker’s work on Friday the 13th Part 3 allowed him to become a union member and would lead to a modest career as both an actor and stuntman on movies such as Deathstalker.