Today I had the pleasure to sit down and talk with John D LeMay. John played Ryan Dallion on Friday the 13th The Series. Ryan also returned to the Friday franchise and played Steven Freeman in 1993's Jason Goes to Hell. Aside from the Friday franchise John has also has done work in theatre.
TC: How did you get the part of Ryan?
JDL: I had been in Los Angeles for a couple of years, lucky to have gotten an agent through my Chicago representation. I had been doing a lot of auditions, a lot of callbacks, and Friday was one of them. The callbacks were at the Paramount lot which was so cool. That's were I worked with two women auditioning for the female lead, Robey and and another Canadian actress named Star. I found out I got the part after getting a call for a wardrobe fitting. Thinking that was wierd I called my agent and he confirmed that I got the part. It usually happens the other way around. In less than a week I was living in Toronto Canada.
TC: When you were filming the pilot episode did you think it was going to be a hit?
JDL: Well, my experience up to that point had been supporting roles and guest star stints on various established shows. I had no clue as to what made a show successful. All I knew I is that I would be in Toronto for at least 13 episodes to start.
TC: How many days did it take to film one episode?
JDL: It took about 7 to 8 days to film one episode, with a couple of days of overlap, filming the current episode and also “pick-up” shots from the previous weeks filming. The pilot episode was the 4th episode that we filmed. That gave us time to get up to speed as an ensemble and a production. They wanted to be able to put their best foot forward with the pilot.
TC: Where Louise Robey, and Chris Wiggins easy to work with?
JDL: They were both great! Chris in particular. He was such a seasoned veteran and he really showed me the ropes. He was really a true pro. Robey was really in to the business side of it and the promotion aspect of the show. I don’t know where she got the energy...It was hard enough for me to concentrate on the acting.
TC: Do you have a favorite episode?
JDL: Having recently revisited the series, since it came out on DVD, (I had to buy them on Amazon, by the way) I now have tons of favorites. I really love season 1. Cupid's Quiver was the first one we shot and I loved it. It was directed by Atom Egoyan and i really enjoyed working with him. Shadow Boxer was another one that I loved. In Shadow Boxer I got to stretch a lot as an actor. I was possessed by the gloves in one of the scenes and got to act that out which was fun. Faith Healer was great and it was fun working with Horror legend David Cronenberg. I remember the climax of that episode was kind of embarrassing. Robey and I showed up on some kids bikes. I remember Robey and I thinking “really? bikes?”. We were use to that monster mercedes by that point, and felt pulling up on the bikes felt a bit silly. The Baron's Bride was awesome with the black and white when we went back in time. I have fond memories of The Poisoned Pen and Pipe dream as my Dad was and extra in both those episodes. Eye of Death was a memorable episode. Wanting to speed up the shoot for all involved, I agreed to do a stunt in one take. I was handcuffed and on the back of a horse that Robey was driving and on the first take was promptly bucked onto the frozen tundra. No way to brace my fall, I suffered a huge bruise all the way up my hip. Lesson learned.
TC: Do you regret leaving after the 2nd season?
JDL: The decision to leave the show was made by the guy I was then, and the guy I was then felt the need to move on. I really regretted leaving the group of people I was working with. Everyone was so tremendous, it was a family. I had grown tremendously as an actor and human being while working on the show. I acquired many valuable tools and skills that I use to this day. However, I also learned that, as a series star, I could redress perceived injustices on behalf of myself or the crew by making demands. Temper tantrums and bad behavior never really felt authentic and I began to feel uncomfortable in my own skin.
TC: Did you believe the show was a success at the time?
JDL: They kept telling us it was, and then extending the order for more shows and seasons, so you figure you must be doing something right. Outside of that, I really did not have a sense at the time. Star Trek the Next Generation and Friday the Series were the first syndicated shows and the way they sold it was "do you want Star Trek?" "Well if you do then you have to take Friday the Series too!" We road in on that shows coattails. But I think our show was able to nevertheless distinguish itself. We had some great episodes and some not so great episodes, but overall the production team should be proud of what we were able to achieve week in and week out. It got taken off the air when stations across the country had decided that a highly rated show at 10pm could do even better at 8pm. Mistake.
TC: The character of Ryan developed quite a bit and matured throughout the first season. What do you attribute to that?
JDL: I really always took my Q's from the script. Additionally, it didn’t take Ryan long to learn the tremendous responsibility he had inherited along with the cursed antiques. Not to mention the fact that the writers kept giving me girlfriends that would invariably die. That will mature you.
TC: Do you still stay in contact with your costars?
JDL: I talked to both Chris and Robey about a year ago. I am friends with Robey on Facebook as well. I also stay in contact with a few of the production folks. Every once in a while I will run into a Canadian actor who appeared on the show, now living in Los Angeles.
TC: How did you feel about coming back to do Friday the 13th: Jason goes to Hell?
JDL: I was hanging out with a friend Sam Mahoney, (he had been an Assistant Director on some episodes of the Series in Toronto) and he was prepping “Jason Goes to Hell” with director Adam Marcus in Los Angeles when the actor they had planned to use for the part, dropped out. I didn't have to audition. I needed the money.
TC: Are you currently working on any projects? Anything that you have worked on recently you would like to mention?
JDL: I am conceptualizing a horror short with some colleagues that will hopefully be a kind of love letter to my fans. Presently I am performing in a critically acclaimed production at Open Fist Theater, “Footenotes”. Extend through February, it is Directed by Scott Paulin, (remember him from “The Quilt Of Hathor”) the evening consists of 26 actors, 12 pieces of furniture and 2 one acts written by Horton Foote. I even get to sing some old Stanley Brothers gospel tunes in it. It is perhaps one of my favorite experiences as an actor to date.
TC: Are you opposed to doing anymore conventions in the future? Perhaps some kind of Series reunion?
JDL: It is always a pleasure to meet the fans. I have had a blast at the 2 conventions that I have done. The fans know the shows better than I do. Its fun to find out what they have latched onto over the years. I would really love to do a reunion that would be so much fun to see Robey and Chris again.
Check out John on his website: johndlemay.com