Jason Voorhees (/ˈvɔːrhiːz/) is a character from the Friday the 13th series. He first appeared in Friday the 13th (1980) as the young son of camp-cook-turned-killer Mrs. Voorhees, in which he was portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S. Cunningham and Tom Savini, Jason was not originally intended to carry the series as the main antagonist. The character has subsequently been represented in various other media, including novels, video games, comic books, and a crossover film with another iconic horror film character, Freddy Krueger.
The character has primarily been an antagonist in the films, whether by stalking and killing the other characters, or acting as a psychological threat to the protagonist, as in the case of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Since Lehman's portrayal, the character has been represented by numerous actors and stuntmen, sometimes by more than one at a time; this has caused some controversy as to who should receive credit for the portrayal. Kane Hodder is the best known of the stuntmen to portray Jason Voorhees, having played the character in four consecutive films.
The character's physical appearance has gone through many transformations, with various special makeup effects artists, including Stan Winston, making their mark on the character's design. Tom Savini's initial design has been the basis for many of the later incarnations. The trademark hockey goalie mask did not appear until Friday the 13th Part III. Since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, filmmakers have given Jason superhuman strength, regenerative powers, and near invulnerability. Some interpretations suggest that the audience has empathy for Jason, whose motivation for killing has been cited as being driven by the immoral actions of his victims and his own rage over having drowned as a child. Jason Voorhees has been featured in various humor magazines, referenced in feature films, parodied in television series, and was the inspiration for a horror punk band. Several toy lines have been released based on various versions of the character from the Friday the 13th films. Jason Voorhees's hockey mask is a widely recognized image in popular culture.
The physical design of Jason Voorhees has gone through changes, some subtle and some radical. For Friday the 13th, the task of coming up with Jason's appearance was the responsibility of Tom Savini, whose design for Jason was inspired by someone Savini knew as a child whose eyes and ears did not line up straight. The original design called for Jason to have hair, but Savini and his crew opted to make him bald, so he would look like a "hydrocephalic, mongoloid pinhead", with a dome-shaped head. Savini created a plaster mold of Ari Lehman's head and used that to create prosthetics for his face. Lehman personally placed mud—from the bottom of the lake—all over his body to make himself appear "really slimy."
For Part 2, Steve Miner asked Carl Fullerton, the make-up effects supervisor, to stick to Savini's original design, but Fullerton only had one day to design and sculpt a new head. Fullerton drew a rough sketch of what he believed Jason should look like, and had it approved by Miner. Fullerton added long hair to the character. Gillette had to spend hours in a chair as they applied rubber forms all over his face, and had to keep one eye closed while the "droopy eye" application was in place. Gillette's eye was closed for twelve hours at a time while he was filming the final scenes of the film. False teeth created by a local dentist were used to distort Gillette's face. Much of the basic concept of Fullerton's design was eliminated for Part 3. Miner wanted to use a combination of the designs from Tom Savini and Carl Fullerton, but as work progressed the design began to lean more and more toward Savini's concept. Stan Winston was hired to create a design for Jason's head, but the eyes were level and Doug White, the make-up artist for Part 3, needed a droopy right eye. White did keep Winston's design for the back of the head, because the crew did not have the time to design an entirely new head for Jason. The process of creating Jason's look was hard work for White, who had to constantly make alterations to Richard Brooker's face, even up to the last day of filming.
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