Interview: Derek Mears (Dead Snow 2)
Horror icon discusses his career playing monsters in Dead Snow 2, Friday the 13th, Predators and more
It's rare but every now and then a sequel comes along that blows the original out of the water. Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is gorier, nastier and funnier than the first film in just about every way. This time Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) is leading his Nazi zombie horde in an attack on a small Norwegian town while Martin (Vegar Hoel), the only survivor of the last film's bloody massacre, is out to stop him using his new found powers to raise an undead army of his own. 'If the first film was Evil Dead II this is Army of Darkness [aka Evil Dead III] times ten,' laughs actor Derek Mears.
With his imposing 6'5" stature Mears has appeared in several films as various thugs and heavies but it was being cast in in Wild Wild West where he really found his niche. 'They needed someone big who could do stunts to play this Frankenstein-type monster. Rick Baker did the make-up and when they were looking for actors to play aliens in Men in Black II he recommended me. To have a legend like Baker [a seven-time Oscar winner for his make-up and special effects work] vouching for me was just unbelievable.'
While Mears doesn't always appear on screen behind layers of prosthetics it's his work as some of the most iconic monsters in film history that has made him a horror hero. In particular playing psychotic serial killer Jason Voorhees in the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th. 'I wasn't nervous about taking on such a famous role, I'm such a horror fan and Friday the 13th is my favourite horror franchise of all time, I was just excited and couldn't wait to give my twist on the character.' It's the personality Mears brings to his creatures creations that has made him the go to guy for such roles. 'I really wanted to capture the humanity of Jason what has made him this killer.' Another of Mears most famous roles was bringing to life the 'Classic Predator' in Predators (2010). 'I didn't really have to do much research I'm such a horror geek I'd seen all the [Predator] films so many times I already knew how they moved.' Obviously acting under layers of make-up presents its own challenges. 'I always think pain is fleeting but a film lasts forever.'
In Dead Snow 2 he plays yet another hulking monster, Stavarin, the leader of the reanimated Russian zombies. 'I came across the first Dead Snow on Netflix and loved it.' Mears then worked with Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola on his first English language film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters playing a troll. 'When Tommy said he was making Dead Snow 2 I couldn't wait to get involved.'
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is available on DVD from Entertainment One.