Quantcast Paul Kratka interview - FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3

Paul Kratka - Rick
of Friday the 13th 3!!!
If you think back to some of the most memorable moments in the entire Friday The 13th series, the one death scene that's bound to "pop" up is the demise of Rick in Friday The 13th Part 3, played by actor Paul Kratka. After a lengthly hiatus from acting, the lovable lead of Friday The 13th Part 3 is back in Scott Goldberg's zombie epic 'The Day They Came Back'. Mike C. & Techno Weenie Vin caught up with him at the Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors in NJ to learn more about Paul's experiences on Friday and beyond! Read on for the FRIGHT exclusive interview with Paul Kratka!!! - by Mikec. & Vin. 10/05

What was the first horror film you remember seeing? Any early favorites?


Wow... gosh... I can't honestly remember! Horror films weren't my passion as it is for so many of these awesome fans. I kinda got into them when I got hired to do Friday The 13th Part 3. So, that was my first introduction into "horror". When I went to read for my 2nd casting interview, they brought in Steve Miner & Frank Mancuso Jr. to sit in, and they had asked me, "Have you seen Part 1 or Part 2?" "No, I haven't. I really don't watch these kind of movies." And they looked at each other and thought "Just our luck!" (laughs)

How'd you initially get into acting?

I went to Santa Monica college in the late 70's. I always in the back of mind thought I would enjoy drama or acting. So, I took a drama class and I went to audition for one of their productions, and I got a major part in one of their plays. And I was hooked into acting from that point on. And I started studying in Hollywood and started doing commercials and was often called in as an "on camera spokesman", because of my voice & my look. I'd do a lot of that kind of work. I was able to make a living that way very quickly.

How'd this lead you to get cast in Friday the 13th Part 3?


I had done some commercials and I'd done some work on General Hospital, I was studying acting in North Hollywood and one of my friends had gone to an audition and he comes back and tells me "You really have to go meet these casting guys. They are the coolest casting directors!" Because sometimes casting directors can be very insensitive or they can have their own agenda. They don't treat actors with respect or consideration or courtesy. But my friend told me these guys were really cool and that I should go in and read for them. So, I went in to read for the same part my friend had done and the film wasn't being called 'Friday The 13th' because they were trying to keep it a secret. At that point, they were considering doing it as a non-union film. And kept everything under wraps.

So, I didn't know WHAT it was. But I went in and read for the part my friend read for, and these casting directors Dave Eman & Bill Lytle - really nice guys. And they said "You're totally not right for this part, but can you come back and read for the lead of this film instead." And as I'm leaving, they mention "By the way, Paul. Don't come in dressed nice, in slacks. This part is about a guy who lives up in the mountain area. He's a carpenter. So, just come in casual." So, I showed up to the next meeting wearing blue jeans, and work boots & jacket and I was carrying a couple of 2 x 4's and a skill saw. And I walked into the interview like that and they said "That's SO cool!" They ate it up. At this point, I think they were fairly committed to casting me, but because they didn't have to sign the contract for a while, they had me keep coming back to read for a month or two as they tried to find a leading gal. Because I think they ultimately wanted Amy Steel (of Friday 2) back, but she wasn't available. They wanted Dana Kimmel & she was unavailable. So, they had me read over & over with different gals and doing screen tests with them. But I still didn't have a contract, so I was nervous! But I realized I was there guy, because they kept bringing in people to try and fit with me. That's how it all came about. It was really an awesome experience.

What were your reactions to the subject matter of the film? Any reservations about doing it?


Not at all. This was the early 80's. And that's when horror films were really hitting their stride. They were kind of at a zenith in terms of their popularity. So, this was a major motion picture even though it's considered a "B-Movie". You and I know that "B-Movies" make "A" money. I promise you that any of the first few Friday The 13th films made more money for Paramount then some of their huge films did. So, it was a huge thing for me. I felt like I won the lottery. I was stoked. It didn't bother me all.

How difficult was it working on a film shooting in 3D?


That was a challenge. The technical way they shot that film was the first time they had ever done that process. I'm not knowledgeable enough, but I remember 2 lenses on the camera at one time. I'm not sure the name of that. But it was the first time they'd tried it, so it took a LOT of time. Movie makings a slow process to begin with, but this was even more so. So, they were nervous about shooting this in 3D. For me as an actor, I was in La-la land. It was a very enthralling experience for me. They had this thing called a luma crane, a special crane that would hold the camera that they'd move around for specific shots. There were a lot of challenges with that. One day, it fell down and almost killed somebody! But for me... I showed up everyday, the food was awesome and I had a great experience. Then we switched from day shooting to night shooting. And that was kind of eerie showing up late at night and working all through the night. Even though you're shooting in pieces, which dilutes any of the suspense or creepiness of it - probably the creepiest thing for me was the night we shot my death scene. Months before we had started shooting, I had gone into a special effects lab and they had created this mold for my whole upper body. They literally encased me for this process and I only had 2 straws to breath thru. It gets very claustrophobic.

When it came down to shoot my scene, they brought this thing out on a cart, which was my upper body and it looked exactly like me. It's 3 in the morning, we're out in the mountains, it's dark & cold. And it was very surreal seeing this thing of me. The detail was amazing. It had this ability to collapse, because they had to do multiple takes of the head crushing and the eye coming out. It was just very surreal and eerie to see this.

Tell us a little bit about the cast you worked with?


A couple of us like David Katims and Tracie Savage we all studied with the same acting teacher. So, we kind of knew each other. Larry Zerner... to this day is the nicest guy. And very funny with a great sense of humor. People often ask me about stories and rumors that Dana Kimmell was difficult, or because she was morman, she was objective. But I was unaware of any of that. I thought she was really sweet and professional. I mean, I had this vision in my head that I'd have this torrid affair with the leading lady... (laughs) but she was a morman and that didn't work out. (laughs) But she was really sweet, and Richard Booker who played Jason was probably one of the nicest guys you could ever work with. I just got a call from him the other day and he was in town working on some Fox show and he wanted to get together for a bit. He's this British guy, and a complete gentleman, through and through... and he went thru hell. Because they put him in all this make-up and all this padding and there were days that it was so hot out there. And then we had days that were freezing cold, but he worked his butt off.

Well, this was Steve Miner's 2nd film as a director. Mind you, his first film in 3D. What was working with him like?


I think he did really well looking back. I had become friends with him - we played tennis together. He was a really nice guy but I know he was under a lot of stress. I remember one time going up to him during filming and I kind of complaining that we weren't doing enough takes - the classic "actor's whine" and he looked at me and said, "Paul... (exhausted) I don't really care. I've got this multi-million dollar picture going on here. I've got producers breathing down my back. Weather you're happy or not, it's not my concern!" I mean, he said it in a nice way, but he was pretty much saying "Come on, you've got this nice job. Don't bug me!" (laughs) He thought this was not going to be a classic in terms of what most people consider a classic. But now it's ironic because IT IS a classic.

It is a classic! (laughs)

Frank Mancuso, Jr, who was the producer was very young - probably about 26 at the time? His father was head of Paramount at the time. And they were all just very relaxed to me. It was hard work, but they were having a good time. I think they were more stressed with the technical side of things and the schedule. Because we had HUGE weather problems. Some people were convinced our set was cursed, ya know because it was Friday The 13th. One weekend we had bees roost the cabin. So, we had to have a professional come in and smoke them out, so that delayed filming for a day or two. One weekend it just got so cold & it was raining, and the luma crain fell. There were a lot of stressful moments, but besides that it was a blast. I mean, we had the great caterer...

So, it was good food on the set. (laughs)

We were well fed. It wasn't low budget in terms of food! (laughs)

Friday The 13th Part 3 has gone on to become a fan favorite, especially when they do the occasional revival screening of it in 3D. Have you ever had the chance to attend one of these screenings with a huge group of fans?

Two years ago actually, they did a 3D film festival at the Nuart theater in Santa Monica, which is one of the last independent film theaters in LA and they did this 3D festival which started on a Friday the 13th, and so they called and asked if I would introduce the film. You know, I'd been a chiropractor for all these years since, and that was my first indication that it was a really big deal. I always have people coming up to me and saying Friday 3 is their favorite, and sometimes I think they're just stroking me, because I was in it, but perhaps because of the 3D effects and the fact that Paramount had to put a little more money into this entry as opposed to the other ones, maybe they just spent a little bit longer on the script. Definitely technically it's a better movie...

...there's a lot of great characters in it, too. Whereas in the later films, the characters are inconsequential or gimmicky. Part 3 had memorable characters.

The thing I understand now from talking to people like you, whom are such authorities on the horror genre is that Part 3 stuck to the essence of "horror" movies. It wasn't overly complicated. It was a group of young people, who all go off and get killed. The characters were believable. At the time, the bikers were believable. I mean, they're kind of campy now when you look back at it (laughs) but they were believable, and that's what makes a horror movie scary. When the characters are relatable. The characters were realistic. And the first time I saw the movie in it's entirety, at a screening at Paramount, I thought it was very scary. You see bits and pieces when your making it, but the way it was cut together when complete was very scary and the music was awesome. I think part of it's long lasting appeal is that they stuck to the formula, it was believable, and they put a little more time & effort into the script and the filming.

What was going on with you shortly after Friday the 13th Part 3?


That's interesting. Looking back now, I made the mistake of changing agents. And I went to an agent that thought because I had done this film, that it put me in another league. And it really didn't. It was a very good thing to have on my resume. But at that time, I was going in and reading for things up against Christopher Walken. And I just don't think that was the wise way to go. I leap frogged a step and I should've concentrated on some more work. And it didn't happen right away, so I started to get worried about dedicating my life to a career that can be so unpredictable. Actors can languish in poverty forever and still be fairly decent. It's interesting now, 23 years later, I'm starting to get ready to retire from chiropracting, and kind of revive my film acting career - Scott Goldberg came along...

How'd that happen? How'd you hook up with Scott Goldberg?


Well, probably a week doesn't go by that I don't get an email or letter from a Friday the 13th fan. And Friday the 13th fans are the greatest. They're so passionate and polite and kind. Scott emailed me and said "I'm an independent filmmaker, and I'm going to make a movie and would you be in my movie?" This is after we had had some initial contact. People are always grateful when I write back. And I always return everyone's email. At first I thought, yea right... But then 6 months later, he emailed me again and said "we're ready to shoot the movie. And I'd like to know if you'd do it." So, I did a little research, checked him out. Make sure he was legit. And he sent me the script and it looked cool. And Scott was very honest about it, he told me it was an independent film, and not a lot of money involved, I'll pay for your flight to come out here. So, I thought, ya know, if you can accommodate my schedule, then i'll do it. Scott Goldberg is the nicest, nicest guy. He's very bright. He's one of those guys who's almost like a savant. And the filming was a lot of fun.

Tell us a bit about 'The Day They Came Back'? What's it about and what part do you play?


It's a zombie film. And... basically, these zombie's come back, and there's this governmental task force/swat team that are called in to try and deal with it and kill off the zombies. Well, I play this detective who's kind of in charge of this whole thing. And I'm interrogated one of the people that interacted with the zombies. The film is unique in that it's narrative, and interspersed is with this interrogation scene thru out the film.

How long did you shoot for?

I did my part in 2 days. It was really quick, because it was all in one location. And we did it on this digital video which is a very forgiving way of filming. Especially in terms of lighting. When they do high definition now, or traditional filming, every lighting set up has to be perfect. So, it takes forever.

Digitial video seems to be bringing film into a new age. All this independent stuff that used to happen back in the 70's before film was taken out of the ordinary persons hands is all coming back.

Yea, so it was a really enjoyable film experience as an actor. Because as an actor, you get in a rhythm and focus in character - and get your energy going. But with digital everything was just boom. boom. and boom. It was very easy and a lot of fun. The location that Scott found was awesome. I flew out to Long Island for this. Stayed with Scott's family. It was cool.

So, after 'The Day They Came Back', anything new on the horizon?

Yea. I've been talking to some of the filmmakers here. I think, some of them interestingly enough are kind of intimidated that I'd want to be in one of their films, but I tell them "I'd love to do it!" And then there's this whole marketing aspect, bringing in a Friday The 13th alumni into one of their films. I'm grateful to Scott. I know he's grateful to me. Because it gives his film a little bit more of a unique marketing aspect. It works both ways though. I'm tying to reach out to other filmmakers and let them know that I am available and would love to participate. Because some of these guys, their careers are going to march along. Because they're going to be the next John Landis or James Cameron. You never know? The thing I've noticed about a lot of these new filmmakers is that they're all very polite and very professional. It's part of the business, but these guys are all so bright. And they have a passion for their horror and a passion for their craft. And it's a neat combo. It's really awesome.

Special thanks to Paul Kratka for his time.
Contact Paul Kratka at: drkratka@healthyfamilychiro.com

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