Will the REAL Jason Voorhees please stand up?
Steve Daskawicz has gone virtually unknown to horror fans for close to twenty-five years until one Peter Bracke, author of the upcoming book Crystal Lake Memories, tracked him down for an interview in his book. Steve, who today goes by Steve Dash, was one of two actors that played the role of Jason Voorhees in the film Friday the 13th Part 2. Actor Warrington Gillette received screen credit and has gone on to make a pretty nice career for himself in recent years off of his Jason legacy on the convention circuit, in addition to it helping to promote his film project Bloody Social. But controversy arose once Steve Dash stepped onto the scene.
Let me just say that here at Dread Central we are not in the business of promoting gossip or mud slinging, however we do believe in giving everyone a chance to be heard especially when it is disputing a past article of ours. We are doing this interview with Steve Dash as a follow up to an interview we did with Warrington Gillette a little over a year ago, towards the end of our Creature-Corner days. Back then Warrington made some statements that Steve disputes, and he would like to set the record straight. I sat down with Steve at the recent Necrocomicon 25th Anniversary Friday the 13th Convention in Hollywood, California where he had plenty to say about his role in the film and that of one Warrington Gillette who also happened to be in attendance as well.
Sean Clark: So tell me how you got involved in Friday the 13th Part 2?
Steve Dash: Actually Cliff Cudney was the stunt coordinator and had called me in New York in 1981 during the Screen Actors Guild strike when nobody was working; I hadn’t worked in about six months. The only show that was shooting at the time was his show and the working title at that time was Jason, it wasn’t Friday the 13th Part 2 yet. So he said he was shooting this film up in Connecticut called Jason and that the guy that they hired to play the title role, a fellow by the name of Warrington Gillette, couldn’t do the stunts but had claimed he could do when they hired him in California so they were in trouble and needed a guy to play Jason. He asked if I wanted to come to Connecticut to do the job. I said, “Jason? So you mean I’d get the lead role in the film? Great!”
So I borrowed the twenty-five bucks for gas from my brother-in-law and drove up to Connecticut and met with Steve Miner, the director, and Dennis Murphy, the producer, and Cliff. They looked at me and said, “Well he looks pretty good, we’ll see if the costume will fit.” because they had already fitted Warrington. They took me up to wardrobe and I put the costume on and it fit. Then he said to me, “Get the bag.” “What’s the bag?” I asked, and they said they told me the bag goes over my face. “So I get the lead role in a film and no one gets to see my face? What kind of film is this?”
SC: So they didn’t even tell you that this was the sequel to Friday the 13th?
SD: No, I didn’t know about it. I hadn’t even see Friday the 13th to be honest with you.
SC: Had you heard of it?
SD: I heard of it, sure, because it was a big slash em’ up horror hit. And then when I went down with Dennis Murphy and Steve Miner again I asked them if I could get a copy of the script and they said, “Nope you don’t need a script because all you are going to do is chase a lot and kill a lot of people.” And that was my starring role.
SC: Do you have any idea how far along they were in the shooting when you joined up?
SD: Yeah, I think they were about a week and a half into shooting. They had shot some stuff of Jason walking in the woods and they had shot some stuff of Warrington. When they were going to shoot the window scene, that was all in preparation at that time.
SC: Have you seen the film recently?
SD: Oh yeah sure.
SC: So honestly how much of a difference was there in on screen time between what you did and what Warrington did?
SD: Well I think it is easier to say what Warrington did than what I did. I mean Warrington went through the window at the end of the film.
SC: With the prosthetic face appliances on?
SD: Right. That’s it.
SC: That’s all he did?
SD: That’s all he did, I did everything else in the movie. Every scene in that movie is me with the exception of the last scene where he went through the window. And actually he didn’t even dive through the window; they had to build a rig to swing him through the window because he was afraid to go through it.
SC: Now I actually did an interview with Warrington about a year ago and I asked him the same question. He claimed at the time in the interview that the only things you did in the film were a couple of insert shots of your hands performing some kill scenes.
SD: That’s what I’ve heard he has said also. For the last twenty-five years I haven’t even gotten involved with it until recently, when Peter Bracke called me about writing his book. As far as the validity of what he says and the validity of what I did can be substantiated and corroborated by Steve Miner and Cliff Cudney, the stunt coordinator. I also have scars on my body to prove that I did what I did, but I don’t have to prove anything. Warrington and I had a confrontation yesterday as a matter a fact. He signed a picture for a lady that was actually of me coming through the bathroom window at Amy. The lady said to me that she had a picture of him going through the window and I asked if I could see it. She showed it to me and it was my picture. So I went over to Warrington and I confronted him. I basically said, “Who the hell are you to steal my thunder and sign a picture of me with your name?” And he said, “Well, I didn’t know that was you. Look, I’m only here for the fun of it.” I said, “No, let’s get this shit stopped right now. Don’t ever say you did something of mine. You did nothing in that movie. I’ll tell you exactly what you did if you don’t remember. You did one scene in the movie where you went through the window and that was it. Period. You got it? That is the only scene you ever did. You wanna show a picture of you in the make-up; fine do it. You wanna show a picture of YOU going through the window with Amy; fine do it. But don’t show my pictures and sign your name on my pictures ever again.”
SC: Does it bother you that in the film’s credits they gave Warrington credit as Jason and not yourself and how did that end up happening?
SD: Well, what happened with that is when they hired me for the movie Steve Miner told me they had hired Warrington as Jason and Paramount wanted him to have that screen credit. The only credit they could give me was “Jason Stunt Double”, however Miner did tell me that my name would be directly under his name in the screen credits, but as it turned out my credit is in the back of the film. So Steve Miner and Paramount were not totally honest with me. I agreed that it was okay as long as my name was next to his as “Jason Stunt Double” and that’s fine, but the fact of the matter is I’m an actor that has done over 35 movies over the years, soap operas, advertisements, commercials, plays; I’m a professional. I don’t sign things that are not mine. And I certainly don’t want people signing their name to my pictures.
Warrington came over and apologized to me last night, saying he had a skiing accident and had lost his memory.
SC: Did he really say that?
SD: Yes he did. He said he had a skiing accident and hit his head and lost his memory and can’t remember what he did on the movie.
SC: Are you buying that?
SD: I’m also a retired New York City cop, what do you think I just got off the banana boat? I mean come on; I can look in a guy’s face to know when he is lying to me.
SC: Are you surprised by the fan following after all of these years?
SD: I am overwhelmed by how many people have taken an interest in this movie. I’ve gotta be honest with you, I never gave it much credibility myself. I did a movie and I did a lot of work in it and that was it. But when a man gets fired from a film and the stunt coordinator is responsible for replacing him, and he needs to replace him with a number one guy that can do the work, he called on me. When you stop and think about it; you look at Friday the 13th Part 2 and I acted under the bag on my head. I acted. It’s hard to act with a bag on your head but if you look at the film you can see that there is some acting there as well as the stunt work. So I think I did well. It’s my understanding, but I don’t know if it is true or not, on another sequel they had hired someone to play Jason but had to replace him with an actor because he couldn’t get the part right. Is that true?
SC: Yeah actually that is true. It was in Friday the 13th 6: Jason Lives. They brought CJ Graham in at the last minute to replace another guy that couldn’t pull it off, similar to what happened with you.
SD: See, if you look at part two which I think was the best Friday the 13th. I mean it was really a good one. I worked very hard doing it. Two days before I started shooting I was running around in the woods with the bag over my head, and I had to figure out a way to keep that bag close to my eye with double-sided tape so I could see where I was going. There was a lot of preparation that went into what I did. I’m thinking about it twenty-five years later, and I’m not getting the credit I should be getting. But now I am because you’re interviewing me and you’re interested, and I’ve been invited to a couple of other conventions and I’ve had hundreds of fans come to me and not to be conceded or anything like that; they’re adoring. They are very nice to me and I’m not a prima donna; I’m not a movie star but I certainly appreciate these people telling me how much they like me. They’re glad that they found out that I was the one who did the work. I can’t believe how many people are so knowledgeable about it. So yes, I find it fascinating and I am overwhelmed by it.
SC: So what is coming up for you?
SD: Well I will be making some other appearances at Chiller Theater in New Jersey in October and Scream Fest in Florida in August.
SC: Pete’s show, yeah he is a great guy.
SD: Yeah Pete invited me down and I have to take credit, he saw how I conducted myself with the fans and he liked it. He saw the great response they had with me. You know, as Warrington said, he does it for fun. Well, I don’t do it for fun. He said he was here to make money and I said it isn’t about the money; it’s about the fans. You lied to the fans. With me it’s about the fans; I’m doing it for them.
So there you have it, F13 fans, the real story about who the man under the bag was in Friday the 13th Part 2 and why the truth was buried for so long. Crystal Lake Memories is due out this Fall, be sure to pre-order a copy of it right here!