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Halloween Special: Friday the 13th: The Series Feature & Interview with John D. Lemay

Once in a blue moon, a television show comes along that makes a memorable mark in one's mind. For me, one such show was Friday the 13th: The Series, which premiered on the 28th of September, 1987. It ran three seasons and ended, unfortunately for all its adoring fans, on the 26th of May, 1990.

It was unique, fun, and creepy, with a cast of very likable protagonists. The show centered around three main characters, Micki, Ryan, and Jack. Cousins Micki and Ryan inherited a weird, old antique shop from their uncle, Lewis Vendredi (that's "Friday," in French), whom they'd never met.

Unbeknownst to them, Lewis was not a nice man, my malevolent misanthropes. Nope, in fact, old Uncle Lewis had made a pact with the devil. In exchange for wealth and the promise of immortality, Lewis would sell cursed antique objects to the unwary buyer, which usually had deadly or tragic consequences.

After taking possession of the store, Micki and Ryan set out to sell off the remaining stock, not knowing, of course, about Lewis' Faustian pact. Upon discovering the truth, they took it upon themselves, along with one of Lewis's old friends, Jack Marshak, to recover these cursed objects. They renamed the shop Curious Goods, and once the objects were found, they were locked away in a basement vault.

This task was not easy, nor was it without a price, sometimes a heavy one. recovery of the cursed objects often took its toll on all of the characters, mentally and physically. The end of season two found us crying at the departure of our beloved Ryan, and the introduction of Johnny Ventura. Hot after Micki, he was a hard-edged bad boy. Although he lacked Ryan's boyish charm, near the middle of season three he began to grow on you.

Friday the 13th really delivered on the creepy scale. Episodes like "Scarecrow," "Tales I Live, Heads You Die," "The Prophecies" (parts 1 and 2), "Demon Hunter," and "Charnel Pit" are enough to keep you up all night with the lights on. Of course, most of the other episodes were just as disturbing, but these just happen to be my favourites. Watch the series and decide for yourselves what hellish episode will keep you tossing and turning. And remember: if you visit an antique shop and your purchase starts making your wishes come true, you just might have in your pitiable possession an object cursed by Satan himself.

I recently had the pleasure, my reprehensible reprobates, of interviewing actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur, John D. LeMay. John portrayed Ryan Dallion in Friday the 13th from
1987-1989.

You might also recall that he starred in another Friday the 13th, except this was on the big screen as Steven Freeman with the horror legend Jason, in 1993's Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

Coincidence? I'm not sure, my miserable  minions. Perhaps the "stars were right."

In any case, John not only is apt at playing a heart throb and hero onscreen, but also quite capable onstage, where he returned to his musical theater roots with the award winning Cabrillo Music Theater. He followed that up with starting his own video production company. Want to know more about this multi-talented, fan favourite, my delectable deviants? Read on and see what John has to say.

Lili's Lair: How did your time on Friday the 13th The Series change your life?

John D. LeMay: I love meeting people, and the show has and continues to introduce me to new friends. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the response I get from people who watched and appreciated the show.

Lili's Lair: Why did you decide to leave after the second season? If you had to do it all over again would you make the same decision?

John D. LeMay: Who walks away from a television series, right?! Someone recently suggested I left the show because I was looking for “bigger and better” opportunities, wanting to “be a star.” That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, I was very grateful for the opportunity I had been given to be in the series, and I already felt every bit a “star” thanks to all our incredible fans. My fellow actors and I, the crew and directors all worked hard to get our jobs done under really difficult conditions. Each week’s episode presented challenges (e.g., long hours, extreme cold) that were a grueling test for our bodies and minds. I felt we were already giving 110%, yet there was increasing pressure to get more done faster and cheaper. The crew had become my family, and I was becoming unhappy with the way that they, my fellow actors, and I were being treated. There was a lot of grumbling on the set. Midway through the second season, the grumbling was getting worse and it became apparent to me that nothing was going to change. Would I make the same decision again? I’m not sure. I wasn’t willing to tune it out then, and I doubt I would be willing to tune it out now. In the end, I made the decision I thought was best for me at the time. I bought a Jeep, spent the summer touring major league baseball parks, and did a play in Chicago with my college buddies.

Lili's Lair: During your time on the show what do you feel you learned about "The Industry”?

John D. LeMay: I am not sure what I learned about “the industry” because I don’t think our show was typical of the industry at the time as the show was operating under a new model, being one of the first pre-sold, 1st run syndicated shows. In other words, we were contracted for a certain number of episodes per year for the life of our contracts. That meant we did not have to go through the same “get ratings or die” process that a network series usually would go through. Consequently, We had the luxury of time to both improve as a show and grow our audience.

 Lili's Lair: What effect did working on a show about the supernatural have on your perspective toward the supernatural?

John D. LeMay: I can’t say the show necessarily deepened my perspective. I have always been fascinated by the occult. Prior to getting the series, I went to a service at a “Spritualist Center”, in a quaint Hollywood bungalow on Lexington Ave. A group of mediums gathered and channeled spirits, answering questions written on special paper and placed in a basket prior to service. At the end of the service the reader pulled my question/billet from the basket. It felt like kismet to have mine pulled. I was told that I would be receiving an offer for a job … a job that would take me “back east” and that, in fact, I would be “moving” back east. A couple of months later, I was moving to Toronto. There are many tools and signposts on the path to self-knowledge and discovery. I have always been curious about them all.

Lili's Lair: What was a typical day on the set like?

John D. LeMay: There was never a “typical day” on the set. Each episode was an adventure. What an incredible bunch of talent we got to work with! A young director named Atom Egoyan helmed the first episode we shot. David Cronenberg graced us with his presence. Regular directors Tim Bond, William Fruet, and Armand Mastroianni could be depended on to get the job done with pinache. It was exciting to work with actors like Colm Feore, the late Denis Forest, Carolyn Dunn, an Tom McCamus. Legends like Carrie Snodgrass, RG Armstrong, Ray Walston, Scott Paulin, and Fritz Weaver always created a bit of buzz on the set. As I recall, each episode took a little over a week to shoot. Just about every week, we would have to move from a day to evening schedule. Work on the beginning of each new episode would also be accompanied by second unit pick ups (shots needed to complete the prior week’s episode). Locations were always fun. We really got to see the city of Toronto. I loved the chance to explore the city and its environs with the crew. At the end of each week, we would end up back on the set of Curious Goods. These scenes were filled with tons of dialogue and very little action. And, working into the early morning hours made these scenes a challenge. We would stumble out of the studio blinded by the rising sun, low on the horizon. We started it all over again a day and a half later, arriving at yet another location as the sun was rising.

 Lili's Lair: Looking back, what was your overall experience while making of the series?

John D. LeMay: I look back at that time of my life with very fond memories. I enjoyed collaborating with some wonderfully talented and creative people, I experienced a vibrant, beautiful city province and country, and realized a dream. Very few actors get a chance to work as a regular on a series. Having a job to do and knowing I could rise to any acting challenge that the writers threw at me week in and week out is something about which I am still very proud. I remember all the work that went into getting the job. Working endlessly with a good friend on the audition scenes, the numerous callbacks on the Paramount lot, being paired with different actresses. Hard work pays off and dreams can be manifested if your intention is focused. That is something I have always believed to be true, and getting the series reinforced that idea in a big way.

Lili's Lair: Is there any advice you would give your younger self who's just starting out in the first days of production of the show?

John D. LeMay: Learn to pace yourself. In many ways, being the star of a television series met my expectations. I loved working with the cast and crew, and practicing my craft on a daily basis. I remember being instantly supported by the crew and lifted by their belief in my abilities. The confidence I experienced as a result took my work to new levels. At the same time, the rigors of being the first to arrive on set and the last to leave can be draining. As the lead in a series, often times it just has to be you, your face in front of the camera. It may not feel like you are acting at all, but there you are, dead on your feet in front of the camera.

 Lili's Lair: What project(s) are you working on now?

John D. LeMay: I began a video production company in Boise called feat1stfilms where I play the role of videographer, editor and director. We have been generously welcomed into the community of filmmakers here. We produce branded video content for websites and social media, helping business and individuals share their stories visually with a broader audience. Earlier this year, we received an Idaho Media Professionals award for a fun advertising piece we did for a local artist. Currently I am filming and editing a time-lapse video for an art installation in a bank lobby downtown.

feat1stfilms.com

Lili's Lair: What's next for John D. LeMay?

John D. LeMay: My family recently acquired a new puppy. I foresee many hours spent trying to get him to take direction, hit his mark and speak on cue.

And there you have it, my wicked wastrels. If you're looking for something to do after the Halloween revelries have finished and the screams have subsided, give Friday the 13th: The Series a watch. It's sure to give you ideas to further fuel your future depravities.

Comments

  1. Loved this article. John is simply the BEST!!! Miss you tons

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  2. Thank you very much for the kind comment.

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  3. How very interesting....I was paired with a few actors and first choice was the coca cola guy from an ad...he stupidly turned down work...John and I first read behind a dumpster on the Paramount lot after weeks of castings et voila! It worked although the working conditions were atrocious for all

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  4. Louise: I always find stories like yours fascinating. Not just because they're sneak peeks behind the scenes, but because it's nearly impossible to imagine anyone except John and you playing the roles of Ryan and Micki. (Or Chris playing Jack, for that matter.) I just can't see anyone else being as perfect in those parts.

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  5. Thank you so much for your comment Louise. I really could not agree more with Christopher B. Your chemistry made the show, and is why Friday the 13th is still a favourite!

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  6. Thank you Christopher and Lili...it was our differences in the real world that made the chemistry work...I am writing the book one day although that is just one huge chapter...also I have 2 web series in the works with someone connected to F13... I come from improv comedy and one is a comedy plus one with a nod towards the dark side and based on a real life French castle...

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  7. Robey's Micki and Lemay's Ryan were the Mulder and Scully of the day. Very brave characters but not as strong without Chris Wiggins as Jack. I think FRIDAY THE 13TH was the sand in the oyster shell for a sci-fi/horror series to work with not only character, but continuity and an arc of some kind - even though X FILES was know for the "myth arc",and even GRIMM, FRIDAY was definitely telling a story before it became popular for that genre to do it. Erik

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  8. Very well stated, Erik - I couldn;t agree more!

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  9. Thank you Erik...love the phrase "sand in the oyster shell...before it's time yes....the potential was watered down by leaning more and more towards horror....it was in my opinion sci fi and should have stayed as such

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