Press > Exclusive Interviews > Hector De La Rosa (Snake Plissken: Escape From New Jersey/Webmaster: Escape From New York's Ultimate Fan Page)

When did you see Escape From New York for the first time and why do you like it so much?

It was 1981 and I went to the theater with my best friend at the time Nolan Burke. Believe it or not, the movie we went to go see was Disney's Tron! It was a double feature and the second movie was Escape From New York. I remember sitting very close to the front of the auditorium and watching the whole intro about the prison but when Snake (Kurt Russell) was across from Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) telling him, "I don't give a fuck about your war, or your President." I said to myself now this guy is cool. I have never seen a rated R (Restricted) movie before and I was surely getting a treat. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes had matured into the coolest son of a bitch I have ever seen! I didn't want to be an astronaut when I grew up. I wanted to be Snake Plissken! We stayed and watched the double feature again just to see Snake. That summer when we went to the beach. My friend and I both made little cardboard cut outs of a cobra and laid in the sun for a while to get tanned. After a time we both had tanned around the cut outs and when we removed them we had cobras on out bellies. As far as liking the film, how can you not! It is virtually a perfect movie in every way possible. The acting, the mood and the story were completely original at the time and still is. But the one thing that stands out is the music. I have been listening to the soundtrack for over 20 years and I have never grown tired of it. Everywhere I go it is in my CD player! I love it.

You've devoted a large part of your life replicating Snake Plissken's (Kurt Russell) clothes and props. Why is this so important to you and what is it about
 Snake that strike a nerve in you? In what ways has he inspired you?

Ah yes, the clothing and the props. Well, to get closer to the man you have to have the clothes and the gadgets. For years growing up I have always wanted Snake's boots. Hell, who hasn't? When all you have to go on is a very bad VHS copy of the film that doesn't reveal any details at all you're pretty much stuck. But I kept looking at every pair of motocross boots that I could find in catalogs and stores but turned up noting. After the creation of the internet things just didn't get any easier. But you get yourself a bigger shovel and run up a big cell phone bill making a lot of phone calls trying to find out information that people had long forgotten about. I will give credit to Stephen Manley for having an awesome magnifying glass that found the source of the boots original maker #1 in Los Angles. Without him I probably would've never had the boots made. So thank you, Stephen. Even though we are not friends anymore because of our passion for Snake Plissken caused us to butt heads. But that's where I draw the line in the sand because I wanted more. I wanted my boots to be as they would be if Snake were a real person. Just because Kurt Russell had aluminum shin plates on his movie boots doesn't mean that I wanted cheap plates on mine and opted for stainless steel plates that could take a licking and dish one out if need be. So not to brag but I am very proud to have a pair of Snake's boots. Hell, I look at them every day and still can't believe that they are mine. It started with the boots but of course it didn't end there. Then came the pants, the shirt, the life clock and tracer bracelet, the guns etcetera. I just wanted to look my best at conventions and with every passing year it happened. It became more than a hobby and it seemed to be a driving force and inspiration to replicate the costume and everything that went with it. Why? Simply because I love the character as he resonates with me and inspires me. I've learned that giving up is not an option and there is more than one way to reach your goals. Getting there is what's important. I've learned about respect for myself and this came very recently.

You had some problems with a company who you helped to make the jacket Snake Plissken has. What really happened?

Well, that is a very lengthy two year story that was the biggest pain in the ass and the jacket is still only about 98 percent accurate. I had another very close friend Jared Place who shares some of the passion for Snake that I have. He and I have studied the film and the clothes for years and got our boots made together as well. We found a jacket maker over seas that had a pretty impressive looking catalog so we wrote to him and asked if he would be interested in replicating the jacket worn by Kurt Russell in Escape From New York. He agreed and the nightmare had officially begun. The first jacket took about two months to get to my door. When I opened the bag that it came in I almost fell over. The thing was hideous and made of a God awful. I would hate to even call it leather. The designs were completely ignored and after complaining it went right back to get re-done. This process went on for about two years, 11 jackets between me and my friend before it happened and the maker finally got it right. Only the leather that he used wasn't to be used for jackets and began to rot. The tanning process was faulty and the leather began to change color in places especially along the neck line. The maker made one more attempt and it was a decent one but showed that his workers did not pay attention to the details that were needed to make the jacket. My friend's was ok but mine came back three inches longer than it was supposed to be. I had a local tailor take care of this for me and now it is ok but I still want another one made some day. But it will be a long while.

You dress up as Snake Plissken at conventions. What kind of reactions do you get and how was it to meet Charles Cyphers (Secretary of State) and Tom Atkins (Rheme) as him?

I really love going to conventions. that's where I have a lot of fun. Surprisingly the reactions are very mixed. Some people don't know who Snake is and I use this to poke fun at them. The "
Who are you supposed to be?" I handle with "Call me Captain Ron, boss. Everybody else does." or Jack Sparrow to name just a few. "I heard you were dead." is very popular. I have fun with it but the costume works because nobody fucks with me.  

Meeting Charles Cyphers was a very pleasant experience. He is really a nice man. I managed to shake his hand and he complimented my outfit. It was a very quick meeting as a friend brought me to see him toward the end of the show.

Tommy Atkins was pretty cool as well. He noticed me right away when I walked into the room where he was signing autographs. I walked right over to his table and he said, "Snake Plissken!" I asked him if I could have a picture and an autograph and he said, "Sure but the autograph will cost you $20 bucks." What the hell, I did it and he signed the copy of Mike McQuay's movie novel that Joe Thornton had sent me in the mail because I didn't own a copy of it. What a guy. He saw me in the hall way later on and I tried to talk to him but he was in a hurry so he just said, "I'll see ya later Snake" and that was the extent of it.

You're not a
 big fan of Escape From L.A. How come?

Why do I despise Escape From L.A.? Honestly, Andreas because it sucks. Kurt Russell decided that it would be cool to make a damn fool out of Snake Plissken. He and (John) Carpenter (Director/Co-Writer/Co-Composer) made him look like a jack ass and a has been. I have a big problem with that. Yeah, I know that Kurt is richer than hell and he wanted to have some fun but he didn't have to take a dump on the character that launched him into super stardom. L.A. was like one giant cartoon that kept getting worse with each frame of film. I mean, give me a break. A Jaws cameo, surfing, gliders and a really bad CVS (Consumer Value Stores) eye patch. With $57 million dollars this is what they were able to do? Enough with L.A. To me it's not even worth talking about.

What started the process of making the fan movie Escape From New Jersey? Why did you want to do it?

Well, I saw Chris' (.R. Notarile) previous effort Escape Big Trouble In New Jersey and thought to myself, Let me contact this guy and pick his brain about making another movie with a real looking Snake Plissken (Me!). Hell, why not? If that other guy was passing as Snake I would surely explode all over the screen! It was my shot. It felt like this is why I got the costume for this very reason. To somehow get to play Snake Plissken. My little moment in the sun.

How does it feel to fill Kurt Russell's shoes and how would you describe your interpretation of Snake Plissken? 

Well, they're actually boots, not shoes. And I really like how you pose the question. My interpretation of Snake is a very good way to put it. In New York, Kurt Russell was playing Clint Eastwood. In New Jersey I followed the same formula. I wasn't playing Kurt. I was playing Jose Whales. I was wearing the clothing of the character called Snake Plissken. I watched all the best westerns that Eastwood did and even Magnum Force and one of my favorites The Gauntlet to get ready to play Snake. I didn't copy Kurt Russell at all except for some of his mannerisms in Escape From New York which were mostly Eastwood anyway. So I kept the nature of Snake simple and true to the way it was done in Escape From New York. In Escape From L.A. it is very clear that Kurt Russell was forcing his lines trying to be Kurt Russell playing Snake. in my opinion he forgot the formula that gave him success in Escape From New York. He didn't go back toward the Eastwood roots. People have made mention that I looked and acted like Kurt from Escape From New York and I take that praise deep into my heart because that is what I was trying to achieve. Being Hector De la Rosa (Not Kurt Russell) acting like "The man with no name" while playing Snake Plissken. That's it.

How has the experience been shooting it and how is Chris .R. Notarile (Director) to work with. Do you have the same vision or do you have disagreements?

I have to be truthful about this. In the beginning it was really rough trying to get my point across to Chris about what I wanted in a movie that he was making. And I'm sure that he didn't like that very much either. I wanted something and he wanted something different. As we started working together I felt him loosen up a bit. I wanted him to feel that he could trust me because I was there to help him and me at the same time. I knew that I had the look of the character down pat and I think that he knew that he didn't want to use that "other" Snake again. He was fair and listened to my ideas. He didn't always agree but I expected that as he is the guy that is holding the camera and a very good filmmaker. A lot of good things happened in this production. Artistic vision began to blossom and the truth of what should be on the screen began to hatch from the experience of just doing take after take. We began talking and having a healthy actor and director relationship about things. Getting this thing right is something that we both wanted. And everyone of the performers just came together and made something very special and it will continue into the future episodes. 

Besides all this you also have a website called: Escape From New York's Ultimate Fan Page
. What's the idea behind it? 

At first the site was started to simply have pictures of me as Snake so people might check out the effort that I put forth honoring this great movie character. Honestly, it just started to grow and take on a life of its own very quickly. I stared adding sections like Post Apocalyptic New York so fans could get a feeling of how things used to be like in New York and still is in some areas. It's still growing strong.

You've also written Escape From New York 1.5. Why did you feel the need to flesh out the story of Escape From New York? What kind of stuff did you think was missing from the movie, the Movie Tie-In Novel and other fan fiction? Was there something particular you didn't liked or wanted to repair?

Actually Andreas. I wasn't repairing anything. I was just merely explaining what was left out and a lot of stuff was left out. "The Decent" I believe really captures what it would've been like for Snake to get down to the first floor using the stairs. In the movie they just cut to Snake walking outside after Hauk tells him to call him when he gets there. So what happened? In the novel, McQuay explains the stairwell vividly as if the lights were on. Go inside the bathroom or the closet and lock the door. What do you see? Exactly, nothing!  Not even your hand in front of your face in total darkness. Imagine having just one eye and having to walk down 55 floors down a darkened stairwell full of God knows what. Would you be scared? Read it, it makes sense and it is the truth. See how much respect you have for New York Snake after you read this. And like I said, watch the movie and when you know what he has just been through it will give you chills!

You dedicated Escape From New York 1.5 to Joe Thornton. How come?

Joe Thornton and I have been talking on the phone for almost one year. We have had conversations about Snake and Escape From New York for hours! Never a dull conversation and we became very good friends as a result. Before this was even a story we talked about all the shit that Snake would've had to have gone through in that prison just for him to survive. Every scenario possible was uncovered. Man, I wished we would've recorded those conversations as they were golden. One day I started writing and I sent Joe a sample. He loved it and I kept going. This went on for a year! Revision after revision until what was in that story was the undebatable uncontestable truth about what happened within the prisons containment walls. There is 22 hours of adventure that will come into the light by the time were finished with this story. I opted to release it now to beat out any attempt at a remake of this classic film without having the first say. He was there from the beginning and had been a fan of this great movie as long as I have so that's why he gets the dedication.

You've complained that SnakePlissken.Net isn't showing that much interest in your projects. Why do you think it is so and is there anything you'd like to say regarding this?

Well, is not the problem here. It's the so called fans that piss me off. All every one talk about is the lack of Snake this and Snake that. I, a fan am doing something for the other fans and all I hear is crickets. I even deleted my account because nobody gives a shit because I'm not Kurt Russell. They're right. I'm not but I am Hector De La Rosa and I am the new Snake Plissken. Hell, what is Hollywood going to do put Quentin Jackson behind the patch? In the beginning and for a while it bothered me that nobody cared but then it dawned on me. Joe said it and you Andreas said it. Just do it for yourself. I listened to you both and did just that.

You've mentioned that you want
 Josh Holloway to play Snake Plissken in the remake and Rob Zombie to direct. Why is that and how do you feel about remaking Escape From New York in general?

I still think that Josh Holloway would make a great Snake and Zombie just has a gritty balls to the wall style that I believe the remake would need to be effective on screen. The remakes that are being talked about these days do not impress me one bit and I think that they should just leave it alone. It doesn't need to be remade. The fact that they are changing key plot points and removing important characters that made the original so great is testament that Hollywood had lost its way completely. C'mon! If you have to remake Fame and the Karate Kid.

Are you frustrated over all the cancelled Snake Plissken projects in the past? Was there something particular you looked forward to or are you happy something didn't get made?

As a fan who is always hungry for more Snake, yes I was disappointed that a few projects got cancelled. The Escape video game was probably on the top of the list. I was really looking forward to playing that game. It was to voiced by Kurt himself and with the way games look nowadays the sky was surely the limit. As far as more Escape movies go, yes and no. After the disappointing travesty that was L.A. I felt that Carpenter had lost his touch and I was really disappointed by Kurt's portrayal of Snake. He went from bad ass anti hero to has been bad ass celebrity that people laughed at. Yes, they waited far too long to make another Escape and the lag shows in the finished product.

What's your favorite Snake Plissken moment?

I have a lot of them but I really like the scene when he jumps off the jeep and starts walking toward the Gulf Fire. He just looks so fucking cool!

What else do you do?

I am a devoted father to my beautiful daughter Gracie Raquel. Being a parent is the most full filling thing I have ever done in my entire life and she gives me all the reason I need to keep going strong. I feel as if I was put on this earth to be her father and that is the biggest honor a man can have. Anything else and this will sound like an E-Harmony add. I just love being a dad.

Is there anything else you'd like to say? Now's your opportunity.

Not really. That about sums it up for me. Thank you for taking the time to interview me, man.

Thank you for your time, Hector.