On Set Interview: The Many Faces of Doug Jones on Hellboy II! - Guillermo del Toro talks Hellboy II! - Selma Blair on Hellboy II: The Golden Army!
February 1 2008
Although Doug Jones was incredibly busy on the set of Hellboy II: The Golden Army when we visited late last year, he took a few minutes out to sit and talk with our group of journalists about the sequel. Doug Jones is the absolute nicest man you will ever meet, "bend over backwards" kind of nice. In the new installment of the Hellboy franchise, Jones dons three different "get-ups" for three different characters. All completely different and all excruciatingly long to put on. But does Doug complain? Nope, he just asks for some water and a chair to rest. He also has more talent in his one prosthetic finger than the entire cast ofwell...most movies. Anyhow, he sat, best as he could, and spoke to us through a couple cracks he had in the Angel of Death faceplate. You can't help but feel for the guy. I’magine this staring at you during an interview, now if only the wings could really see...Doug talked about the costumes, his characters - Abe Sapien, Angel of Death and the Chamberlain - working with Ron Perlman and more. Read the interview in it's entirety below,
Q: How well can you see in this suit?
Doug Jones: He’s got this thing with eyes, Guillermo, I don’t know, he refuses to let me see when I’m on film. I’ve stumbled around many a set. I’m looking out through the cracks, there’s a crack running this way and a crack that way, those are my main ones and I have some holes in here too. I have better vision in this than the other two, because I’m also playing Chamberlain. Have you gone to the creature shop yet? Anyway Chamberlain is a very tall headed thing with two eyes at the top that are mechanical, so I’m left to look through a hole or two. Of course Abe is the usual tom foolery of looking through those tears ducts and when the goggles are on they fog up, so I stumble around a bit.
Q: Is taking on three characters overwhelming?
DJ: (whispering) Oh my god yes. (laughing) I had no idea how much I was taking on "Three characters? Sure it’s for Guillermo." But Abe Sapien is much bigger and much better this in this movie. He’s been an absolute treat for me to play this time, He’s written with so many different colors and levels and there’s a love interest, it’s such a yummy thing to chew on. And his buddy time with Hellboy is more concrete and his brother/sister time with Liz is even better. I’m written into almost every scene as Abe and then add to that the other two characters I just don’t get a day off.
Q: Are there scenes with Abe and other characters you play?
DJ: This one, we have a close call. My photo double was standing outside that keyhole there in the Abe makeup so they could get both of us in the same shot at the same time, but that’s a trick.
Q: How long have you been hanging here now?
DJ: This is day three. We were on stand-by the first day it filmed, that happens a lot. You can see the wires holding up the wings, the wings are about 40 lbs. we decided and it may not sound like much but when you have it concentrated on one spot on your back it helps to have that wire, otherwise I would become grumpy boy.
Q: What is Abes story this time around?
DJ: In the absence of Professor Broom this time, I think Abe has stepped up as a, I wouldn’t say leader, but he is the brains, the intellect of the team. And even Jeffery, agent Manning, comes to Abe to complain about Hellboy. He’s become that character, in the absence of a dad, Abe has sort of stepped up. But he is still very much a younger brother to Hellboy, because Hellboy is protective, he knows the ways of the world and Abe is kind of innocent. The difference with the storyline this time is the love interest thing. Abe never had love before and so there’s this adolescent sort of thing going on. It was so fun to revisit that time in my life because I’m way past it now. To rediscover what it was like to fall in love that first time and the stupid decisions you make and how you just become obsessed with that one focus. So your choices and your decision making may not be completely sound. You’ll see Abe go through a process with that.
Q: And it will be your voice this time?
DJ: I did "Blood and Iron" and "Sword of Storms" and had a lot of fun with that and basically I’m not changing I’m using the same voice I did on the first film before it was voiced over. I’m not trying to sound like David Hyde Pierce, that would get confusing, "I’m trying to sound like David Hyde Pierce, sounding like me, what?" David and I weren’t that far apart from each others performance anyway. If you go on the Hellboy website there’s a video on there of me greeting you and that’s pretty much what he sounds like.
Q: How’s your relationship with Ron now that you’ve re-teamed on the sequel?
DJ: I just love Ron, Ron and I are closer now than we’ve ever been and even though I’ve played in a lot of fantasy and comic book films I told him my greatest honor was to be his sidekick. Off camera were very much like Abe and Hellboy, in fact he said that, at the beginning of the film he said that he thought that Abe and Hellboy were very much like Doug and Ron and he wanted a line written into the film somewhere, with Hellboy looking at Abe and saying, "I don’t know if Ill ever know what it’s like to be as good as you," that’s what he said and it was very humbling. What have I done to make this man think I’m an angel? He’s grumpy Ron and we wouldn’t want him to change for a minute, he thinks I’m too nice, he tells me so all of the time, he says, "quit being so nice, you’re making me look like an asshole."
Q: What was the thinking behind making the Angel of Death a woman?
DJ: Yeah, a woman with me in it. (laughs) I think the androgyny of it though is delicious. I don’t know if angels even have do believe there are such things as angels. Do they have a sex? I don’t know. The script refers to the angel as a 'her' and that’s why I do. I think she has feminine qualities, but she’s not totally a woman either. And that’s okay I like characters that keep you guessing.
On-Set Interview: Guillermo del Toro talks HELLBOY II!
February 4 2008
The IESB was on the set of Hellboy II: The Golden Army in Budapest late last year and spent some time with writer/director Guillermo del Toro. Always a gentleman and fanboy at heart, del Toro met with our group of journalists, spoke at length about the film, spoke about other projects he has in the works, toured us around various sets and did it all with patience and an open heart. He's a hell of a guy and someone you could easily sit down and share a beer with. Well, enough of my rambling, let's find out all the goodies he had to tell us about!
Q: What's pre-production on this film like?
Guillermo del Toro: We did have a tight prep, so we had a lot of difficulties getting going so fast. And we are trying to make the movie look twice of what it is. It is like the first one...the fat man syndrome. If you have four donuts, you want them all and the glass of milk. And you have budget and you say, "How can I make this much bigger?" And this one we didn't have much money or any time, so it is twice as stressful. I think everybody has aged 10 years. The thing is the movie had to be compressed in a time and a budget, it is a pressure cooker. Creatively, it has been very freeing and much freer than the fist one. Freer in the sense you don't have to set up the rules of the world. So you are allowed to frankly have more fun, which I haven't had. But in theory you should have more fun (laughter).
Q: Was this always the story you were going to tell for the second film?
GDT: When we finished the first, we talked about it for a long time and I came up with an idea that was very different from this one. That is the one we pitched to Revolution. The character story was the same, but the anecdote wasn't the Golden Army but the four titans in the four corners of the Earth. Wind, Water, Fire and Earth. And a prince wanted to awaken the four titans of the Earth. However, this idea felt to me like a more magical idea. The title Golden Army sounded great and I thought, "What could the Golden Army be?" And then when I thought about the princess' father having constructed them eons before and him wanting them to conquer the world, it sounded immediately great and that is what we pitched.
Q: This an original story? Not based on any comic book material?
GDT: No, I was literally driving back from the Long Beach Aquarium with my family. I called Mike [Mignola] and said, "This is not working. I can not find this and I can not find that." And as we drove from Long Beach to Agoura Hills, which is frankly a long drive in Los Angeles, I said, "The only thing that could work is if it is a rebellious prince." Literally, we started jiving in that lapse, and by the end of it we were like mental infants. We were both yelling, "Yeah, and the prince has a magic lamp and a sidekick!" We were happy!
Q: When does this film take place?
GDT: It is about a year later from the first one. The idea was that we had a happy ending with the first one, but now we see what has happened after all this epic stuff happens. What happens to Cassius after he conquers Rome and the next day he has to send his sandals to be shined
Q: How did you guys come up with the creatures?
GDT: What we did was, I had a clear guideline on the creatures, which was I wanted the creatures not to look like movie creatures and not to go with any Celtic type of design. Not the Anglo Saxon style of fantasy creature, which is the Brian Froud, Arthur Rackham, Lord of the Rings type of mold which determines that a troll looks a certain way and a dwarf looks a certain way. I said both the culture and the creatures had to be freer than that. Some of them I wanted to look like a medieval engraving that you find in a rare painting and for the culture we went for Eastern influences, from Japan and Arabian markets and from Muslim architecture. We went with completely different influences that didn't come from the usual 'troll in the leather strap with spikes and horns in the helmets' type of thing. From that point on everybody started chipping in and what I did is that I asked the designers in the pre-production stage, I said, "Let's design things that you want to see." And each one brought one or two. With the creature guys, I said, "Forget what you usually do bring the stuff you want to do that is crazy." And then each designer brought three to four that they were completely passionate about and we then started working on one or two of those all the way. And the way you treat the creatures is the way you treat creatures or characters in nature. Each designer took a character from beginning to end. It was not an assembly line. For example, Chet Zar took a character called The Chamberlain that looks exactly like his paintings. He took it from the stage of design to wardrobe costumes, painting, and assembly, all the way much like an animated movie. Norman Cabrera designed the Angel of Death from the first concept to the last piece. He supervised that character all the way. So what I wanted was for the creatures to be fun to do because that way they come out more alive as opposed to the studio heads and the producers asking for a more Western look this way the characters are a little more fun.
Q: You originally went to Universal Pictures for the first film and are now back at the studio after going through Revolution. What is that like?
GDT: It is great because when I got involved with the first Hellboy, I always wanted Hellboy to be part of the pantheon of monsters. You know, to be with Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff. As a fan, you always imagine something like that would be great. Then we went out of there, we went to Sony and to Revolution and did the first movie. And so it is beautifully ironic that we came back to Universal with this one.
Q: Is Mike going to do his own comic book adaptation of the movie?
GDT: No, we are doing a little comic with the prologue of the movie that is the story of the Golden Army. It has been laid out by Mike and it is being drawn by Francisco Ruiz Velasco. And Dark Horse is going to put it out with the movie. The prologue is an example of how we went at it. We had a sprawling narrative that took place in five minutes in the prologue and it was like a five minute movie. Then the budget had to go down. So there is a line where a director will say jokingly, "We'll do it with puppets." And they laughed and said, "We'll do it with puppets." We are doing a beautifully designed, carefully animated puppet theater to explain the prologue, which is both better and cheaper, which is the way everything has been in the movie. It is more freestyle this way, but it is also more beautiful. You are not going to out the Lord of the Rings in scale, but you can make it be like a Japanese shadow theater that is a beautiful prologue.
Q: Out of all the characters, which one is going to be the big breakout?
GDT: I think the Prince is really nice. I love Mr. Wink, you will see Wink is a really cool guy. The thing with Wink, and this sounds like a double entendre, I was showing Mr. Wink to my wife and she asked if it is CG, and asked, "How can it not be CG?" What's great is that it has such great movement that it looks real.
Q: Can you explain what Mr. Wink's character is
GDT: He is a cave troll that is a bodyguard of the Prince. He is the sidekick of the Prince. He is, I think, over 7 feet tall and it is all physical. He is played by Brian Steele, who plays four characters. Doug [Jones] plays three.
Q: You know you can hire more than two actors (laughter)
GDT: Not that good! There aren't that many that are that good.
Q: What's different about this one from the first one?
GDT: One of the things I am changing is both the action and the fighting. I went for some things in the first one that I was not that happy with. I think this is a completely different type of fighting. I was lavish to a certain type of thing, trying to reproduce certain things the comic book did. But I tried it on Blade II and immediately after, I tried it on Hellboy. And for whatever reason, it already felt old. So what we are doing are things that I think are more freeing or in a strange way more beautiful or spectacular. There is a spectacle in the action and the fighting, there is a beauty to it.
Q: So, the Prince will be using spears for weapons?
GDT: Yeah, because the fighting style of the Prince is a fusion of martial arts so we are doing stuff that looks like wires, but not wires. We are doing all this stuff to make the characters move in a really exaggerated magical way, but it has the gravity of something real.
Q: Can you talk about Luke Gossdid you write the role of Prince Nuada specifically for him?
GDT: Yeah, I try to write for people I know because it makes it easier for me. I am more familiar and I know how they are going to deliver the dialogue. And I had a good time with Luke the first time, so it is worth repeating.
Q: Why is Liz walking around with a gun when in theory she can just burn people?
GDT: The idea is that she has learned how to control the fire in this movie, but it is not that precise. So she will use it to blow up things, but she has not yet perfected it to light a cigar or to shoot a straight line, so, she is still a human grenade.
Q: Can you talk about Anna Walton's audition for Princess Nuala when she was 8 months pregnant?
GDT: It was a lactating audition, and catering was crazy (laughter). When she walked in, though, she did the voice of a certain quality. I needed to believe that she was a princess and that is a tough call these days, she had an unearthly quality.
Q: Is she going to be pregnant with Abe Sapien's baby?
GDT: I think that Abe Sapien releases his sperm in the water (laughter)I don't think he is fully functional.
Q: What is Jeffrey Tambor doing in this movie?
GDT: That is something I am tweaking. Originally the part was written for Larry Miller and Jeffrey came in the nick of time. I really felt that it would be cooler to have Jeffrey far more active because I am such a fan of his. The funny thing is that I am a fan of his from The Larry Sanders Show, but that is not recent stuff. He is far more involved than the day to day and he has a far larger role to play.
Q: You're a fan of fairy tales, do you think that helps with your stories?
GDT: Yeah, I always knew that they were a component of the things I wanted to do. If you see interviews as early as Cronos or Mimic, I am quoting Rachaman and talking about the imaginary world. I always felt very comfortable with the aesthetics of horror, but not very interested in the mechanism of it, you know the startle and the scare. I am very comfortable making creepy, eerie atmospheric things, but I am more interested in the life of the creatures and the monsters than I am making a mechanical version of horror and I am more interested in the aesthetics. I am finding that it is the dark, horror monster realm that I am enjoying the most.
Q: As far as story you like to use the structure of fairy tales as well
GDT: Well, I try to. Both in Pan's Labyrinth and here there are many references to other fairy tales. The whole realm of a fallen Prince coming back to reclaim a world that is fading, and there is some stuff that you will see that I try to give a more fantasy film feel, like The Wizard of Oz. We built worlds, as opposed to having creatures in our world. We tried to show other places of existence for the monsters. In the first one, we saw monsters living amongst us. The difference is that we go to the environment where the wild things are.
Q: We saw Hellboy Jr. back there, what kind of backstory do you have for the character?
GDT: Well, the idea we have is that our favorite stories are when Hellboy is a kid. The idea is to show the New Mexico base life in the 1950s, show how he lived back then to see a little bit of the domestic life he had as father and son in vignette. So we have Broom's kitchen and clothes drying in the background, and we see Broom's home life, and how he became the father. It is a little vignette and I also wanted very much to have John Hurt as a part of the second film.
Q: You also mentioned the character of Johann. How does he play in?
GDT: Mike and I spoke about it and we hope against hope that if there is a third movie, that as much as the second movie is about Abe, the third one would be about Johann. So here he plays a concrete function, as a new guy who wants to bring order to the B.P.R.D. that is in chaos because Hellboy came out of hiding. So we are throwing lines out for his story to take a lot more center, to set up for a third movie.
Q: And executing the character?
GDT: The original concept was to go for the old look when the budget was much higher, that empty light bulb look from the comics books. That meant replacing the entire head with a CG head for a thousand shots. That was prohibitive and gladly we went with a more Jewels Verne containment suit look. So we used, sort of, perspective and mirror tricks inside the helmet to keep the head disappeared. We are not using opticals or digital. We just angle the helmet and the reflections, and we created a magnifying glass bubble. So you feel there is more empty space in the helmet than there really is. And then we built the suit to show a fishbowl head and it looks very 19th century.
Q: What about references to the first movie?
GDT: That wasn't very interesting to me. Maybe at the end of the process we will have a roller at the beginning, if the test screenings make it necessary. Until then, I am treating it like the sequels I love. For example, in The Road Warrior there is a recap of how the world collapses, but in terms of Max we learn he is a man who lost everything. And that is what you know about Max. The recap in this is embedded in the prologue, where we see a young Hellboy in the 1950s and there would be a very short recap saying in 1944 a secret project made this, and now we see where they're living.
Q: Are there any limitations showing footage from the first movie because it's a different studio?
GDT: I never looked into it because I never thought I would. I think the same was with Blade. Goyer made it clear that we were not recapping anything, and I went with that because that is how I like it.
Q: Does this film get back to the Liz and Hellboy relationship?
GDT: Yeah, what I like is that it is a reversal of the first movie. In the first movie, Hellboy had to make a choice about who he was and what he wanted and to save her and in a strange way, she is saving him. And their dilemma is what makes him race back at the end of the movie. However, it is threaded so hopefully the third one will have a very moving, perhaps heart-breaking conclusion to that relationship. I think if everything went well that the idea is to end up like most couples will end up the first year. And by the third movie, we will take it somewhere else. I think the banter and character relationship goes on beyond Liz and Hellboy. Abe and Hellboy have a far looser relationship, and Abe has his own story with the Princess. And I think it is more entertaining to have character interaction, rather than have 10 lines of explaining everything, which is what we had to do in the first movie. We had to explain the B.P.R.D., explain how Abe existed, how Hellboy existed, how Broom came to be. So this way is a lot more fun.
Q: What are you doing to reach a larger audience on this movie?
GDT: I am making a good movie. What we found with the DVD is that theatrical releases don't do great, but we make up for it with the DVD release, and that was very big. Very recently, we had the first public airing [of the first Hellboy] on British TV. And of the movies that week, it was not only the top but uncommonly high for a movie that was relatively recent, but in theory more obscure.
Q: Were you happy with the first movie?
GDT: I am, but I learned a lot. There is a lot of things that I was very stubborn in keeping. That movie was written before the wave of comic book movies. I wrote it before Matrix, before X-Men, and I stubbornly held on to ideas that by the time the movie was made weren't that new. I love it; it is the third favorite film that I have done. I love Pan's [Labyrinth], I love Devil's Backbone, and I love Hellboy in that order.
Q: What would you want to change from the first movie?
GDT: For example, the fact that you don't have to explain that much. I also wanted to take certain elements of design a little further. The first film was still designed like a comic book movie, in terms of the visual. On Pan's Labyrinth, I went for the visuals that I admired. I was able to design that movie in a freer way, and it is the same with this movie.
Q: So Pan's Labyrinth fed into this one?
GDT: That is a difference I notice. Since Pan's, I actually have taken the initiative to do things.
Q: Will you be making At the Mountains of Madness?
GDT: I never know. I wish I was, but Universal has acquired the rights. That is great news for me because the rights have been in limbo and I have, together with Michael Elizalde, we have financed designs. But we will see because it is R rated, it is expensive, and it doesn't have a happy ending. I think that big scale horror, which we used to have with Alien, The Shining, and The Exorcist before everybody thought horror needed to be re-conceptualized. I think movies like that should be back at some point. So I am patiently waiting my turn.
Q: Neil Gaiman was on the set for a few days.
GDT: We had him for a couple of weeks. We discussed him directing the adaptation of Death as soon as possible. Again, I hope that the success from Pan's Labyrinth helps me put those projects together. I think the most interesting thing in any genre is new directors coming in constantly.
Q: Did you have to take Neil under your wing?
GDT: I think that if anyone knows that character it is him. If we have to build a support structure, we will. There is without a doubt no one more qualified to tell that story in mind.
Q: Studios have done the same thing with Frank Miller.
GDT: Yeah, I think so. I think Neil is a guy who thinks in terms of ideas and very concrete images. He is not a draftsman, but he is the creator of that universe. I think if you surround him with a very strong team, like what we did with The Orphanage. With that movie, we went at it with everybody being first time. First time DP, first time editor, and it worked. I think there is a great advantage to not knowing how things should be done because then you make things happen and you learn what is impossible. We made that movie in a short period of time for 4.5 million Euros and it looks pretty beautiful.
Q: But at the same time, you might get all the mistakes that a first timer would make and that can be detrimental?
GDT: I prefer first time mistakes than 10th time mistakes. I think these guys are going to do things that no one else is going to do.
Q: Are you going to work with Sergio G. Sanchez on your next Spanish language movie?
GDT: He is writing 3993, and that is a big baby.
Q: Are you still planning on doing Dracula and Frankenstein?
GDT: I would hope so, but certainly I would kill to do Frankenstein. But I want to do Frankenstein as the Miltonian tragedy that it is. I remember reading Frank Darabont's screenplay, and I thought that was it. However, thanks to Kenneth Branagh, I can still do it.
Q: With so many projects, how do you decide what your next will be?
GDT: One at a time because I think the problem is if I had the freedom to choose to hold on and do my own things. What I learned between the years of Cronos and Mimic is that when I did that, it took me four years to get a movie off the ground. And I never got them made in the order I wanted. And I wrote several projects that haven't happened yet, and what I learned is that if I keep four or five things I truly love in the fire, one of them becomes true.
Q: Are you going to use one of your new guys to do one of these movies?
GDT: We are going to do one, I haven't announced it yet, but we are trying to do a movie that I wrote and never got to do with Miramax with a first time director.
Q: You talked about a third Hellboy movie. Is that something you would do immediately?
GDT: I wouldn't do it immediately. I like pacing things. If I can, I like to do a smaller movie in between the big movies. However, you never know.
Q: Are the smaller movies like just two characters in a room talking?
GDT: I am writing two characters in a room, but they are killing each other, there may not be monsters, but they are definitely not talking.
Q: Any idea what your next project might be?
GDT: I don't know, and that makes my wife happy. She would like me to get reacquainted with my daughters and my dog.
Q: Is there any temptation to use some of the classic Universal monsters in the third Hellboy?
GDT: What I would love to do is go in a different direction with the animated part of the Hellboy universe. I would like to combine Hellboy and the Universal monsters in an animated world. But keeping the expressionistic lighting and not necessarily being as slavishly faithful to the Mignola panels.
Q: Are you going to make a Harry Potter film?
GDT: They came to me to do it once. I have read them all and I read them before the movies. I feel them to very be Dickensian and I saw Harry Potter to be a lot like Pip in Great Expectations. I always saw the story a lot darker than the movies that were bright, happy and full of life. They seem to be getting more and more eerie; if they came back [to me] I would think about it.
Q: Talk about your career since Pan's Labyrinth.
GDT: This is it. However, I can now sponsor other filmmakers and one of the things we are trying to do with every company that I form is try to do first movies. Or find a guy who has done three movies who is not as noticed as much as we think he should be. That is the difference I notice the most; I am finding it easier to champion those films like The Orphanage. I am finding it easier to get the money and put them together faster. This movie is going so much against the grain of time, so I haven't noticed that power on this movie. But I guess it is there. I don't feel pampered, but I do as a producer I do notice more influence.
Q: Are you able to produce and be involved with these movies as well as your own directing projects?
GDT: I am involved enough in the sense that with the last one, we put together the film and the actors, but it was the director's project. If he needs me, he calls me. So we talk about it and if they need me I am there; if they don't, I won't be there. And that is how a producer should be.
Q: Are you involved with the English translation of The Orphanage?
GDT: Yeah. I can't say who the director and writer are, but if I get who I want it will be different. It won't be the same movie with American names attached. It is like the second Hellboy, it's an opportunity to tweak things that I didn't like in the first one. It is almost relaunching the character.
On Set Interview: Selma Blair on Hellboy II: The Golden Army!
February 5 2008
Selma Blair returns as the hot little number - literally - in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Liz is back with a new look (and it's hot!) and a new attitude! This time around, she is shacked up with Big Red and trying to forge a somewhat normal relationship with the hellspawn. The IESB talked with Selma on the set of Hellboy II in Budapest late last year during our set visit. She had a lot to say, read the interview in it's entirety below
Q: Did you ever think you'd be playing Liz again?
Selma Blair: Did I ever think I'd be doing this again? I hoped I would. God, after El Jefe, after Guillermo, I'm going to sound thick as a plank. Because he really manages you guys so well. But I hoped I'd be playing Liz. The first one was such an introduction, you know, to the story of Hellboy, that I always thought the meat would be in the second and third, at least for Liz, because in the first one she was afraid to take a step, she was completely a zombie, not wanting to own up to her power and having the memory of what she'd created in her life. So yeah, I was really eager to come and play Liz with a little more vibrancy.
Q: Did it take much time to get back into the role?
SB: It's weird, because I thought, well, it's taken four years. But I thought it would be so simple, you know? I'd just come and I already know this girl. But I realized I don't know her at all, because I don't know her as a woman. And she's a woman in this one, and she's not moping around. That's kind of just in my cell memory as a person, of my pre-conceived idea of what Liz was in the first one. And I've actually really been-- It seems like such a straightforward role, but it's really been a challenge for me not to suck the energy out of Liz, because that's kind of how I played her in the first one. She was like in a vacuum. And so it would really, really ruin the movie if I played it that way. So it's been a little bit of a challenge for me.
Q: Was the haircut something you suggested or was it you and Guillermo together?
SB: You know, it was together. My hair, I basically went nuts and shaved my head. I didn't go nuts at all. There was actually a girl that wanted my hair, and I'm a giver, so I gave it to her. So I did that to make a wig for a child, but then I made it a fashion thing, that I had this strange-shaped head. So I thought, oh God, Guillermo's going to kill me. But I was wigged in the first one. I had short hair then, too. So he saw the short hair and he really wanted it, but I think he thought it would look like Liz had a bit too much of a moment in the four years since we last saw her. You know, who is she now? I think it's a little anime inspired. That was kind of Guillermo having her stronger. Yeah, I think the first one also brought my face down, literally. It was really a gravity type of thing, and we didn't want that as much.
Q: So you've shacked up with Hellboy. How's it working out?
SB: [Sigh] Well, it's worked out about as well as my marriage in real life [laughs]. It has its troubles. No, no, no, we're very good friends. It's not that bad a thing. It's not that bad a thing. No, it's difficult living with someone, especially a guy that takes up as much room as Hellboy, with as many cats as Hellboy has. So no, we are very happily together. But there's trouble with spending so much time with someone you love, after you're used to being alone and having your way. Now I use my power a little more in this one. So between my fire and his little boy, sloppy behavior, we're a mess. A lovable mess.
Q: Why are you carrying a gun? Isn't the fire enough?
SB: You'd think so. Talk to Guillermo about that. And it's really embarrassing. Obviously, I wouldn't pull this out if it weren't completely rubber. But yeah, it's really embarrassing, that I spend so much time in this movie holding this gun up and I'm just like, to Abe, you know, Doug, next to me, I'm like, 'Jesus Christ, don't I have fire for this?' I mean, it's just a lot of time in the background with my gun drawn. Like, 'I'd just blow him up. I'd just blow him up.' But I guess the movie would end, so here's the gun.
Q: Were you involved with the New York fight we saw the evidence of?
SB: I'm standing behind my man there. I'm not involved with it. I'm just kind of cheering him on and there to hold his hand when it's all over.
Q: You could have caused that destruction yourself.
SB: Well, I don't want people to see me. Hellboy really likes the limelight, and Liz doesn't. She feels very uncomfortable under the scrutiny of people. So she's really not going to break out with her fire. This is between Hellboy and the elemental.
Q: She's in control of her powers more this time around.
SB: Mm-hmm. I mean, I imagine if there's a third one it would be stronger, or she wouldn't have to use them at all. But yeah, no, she can start it and stop it on her own, and is game to be part of the B.P.R.D. now.
Q: Have you seen a difference in Guillermo?
SB: I do. You know, I heard from Ron when he started Cronos that Guillermo was very kind of tentative and he always had such a strong point of view on what he wanted and the things that make him light up. But he does. He has more confidence. I mean, this the most demanding set I've ever been on. And that's because Guillermo can. He has the vision and he's so specific and each time he wants to tell a better story than the last and keep going and he has a lot--probably, I imagine--to live up to in a lot of people's eyes. So I imagine this is a strange on to follow up after something as kind of precious and dark as Pan's Labyrinth. But that's just my imagining. That's just my conjecture in that it would be very difficult to follow the movie that kind of has a pre-conceived idea, Hellboy. And I think he wants to make this bigger and mythological, mythical in nature. But he's very specific about what he wants. And sometimes I don't understand. But he does. So that's what matters.
Q: Were you familiar with the comic books?
SB: Not before the first one. No, I just got a call from my agent saying Guillermo wants you for this movie. And I had known Devil's Backbone. And I loved it. And I said, 'Of course.' I signed on sight unseen and it's been the greatest adventure. So I'm so grateful he saw something he wanted.
Q: After two years did you think it wasn't going to happen. Were you surprised when it did?
SB: I was really hoping. And then when we started to do the animated ones, it didn't have anything to do with Guillermo, but it did have to do with promoting Hellboy just as a kind of franchise, I guess you'd call it. But then I started getting hope that I would be able to finally do my garden back home [laughs]. You know, there were things, and I was going to be able to pay bills. But yeah, I kind of thought it was never going to happen. But Guillermo didn't give up, and when he gave me a call at 11 o'clock one night and said that they had financing, it was really a relief. And it's something that I'd been waiting for and hoping for and this does feel like back with family. And it's a whole new experience and it's amazing.
Q: You did the voice for the animated version of yourself also?
SB: Yeah. What a delight that is [sarcastic]. It's like Daria doing the voice of Liz.
Q: Did you do that at the same time?
SB: Yeah, I mean, there were just a few animated ones, and honestly, when you do a voice of something, you're just in the studio for a few hours at a time. And then they'll do another pass. So I was doing that at home before we started this six months ago, or whatever.
Q: Has there been talk of more of those?
SB: I know that one was nominated for an Emmy and I'm glad that that one person that nominated it bought it, because that's about the only copy I know of that sold. So I don't know if any more are going to happen. But one of them was really beautiful, I think, Sword of Storms. Or something.
Q: So does the team dynamic change with the addition of Johann?
SB: It's been a really different dynamic, because I never really had scenes with Abe, really. There was just one that was a really touching scene for me in the first one. That was actually my only real scene were I felt like a person communicating with someone. And this one, he's my buddy. We're together all the time. And all the characters he's playing. So I kind of feel closest to Doug in this. And always Ron. I mean, Ron's my neighbor. I live next to Ron in real life. So Ron is someone that I'm just really close to. And have kept in touch with, and that feels normal. And John Alexander and James--there's a couple of people who play him--I think we're happy. The more the merrier. And the more people that can suffer in their costumes and I can make fun of them, because I don't have one. I bedevil them. It's awful. They're like sweating and dying and they can't breathe, and I'm like, 'Oh my God, this cotton tank top is so hot. It's really too much. I don't know how you guys do it.' Yeah. I don't think most people get my humor, so it's been a little rough.
Q: What is Liz like mentally in the film?
SB: I think she's really getting her life. She's looking to the future much more, and things are happening in this one that she has to buck up. She can't be a kid anymore and she can't feel sorry for herself. I think she is strong, and I think Guillermo's really noticing moments where it's lacking, and we go back and shoot. Like, Liz needs this moment where she saves the day for a moment, or where she advises someone to do something, to just really try and pump it up, because I think even though I'm not at all a girl in real life, I think I can come off--it's just part of my own energy--but I can come off as younger than I am. Not by looks necessarily, just by presence. So I think you're dealing with a lot knowing this young girl that we last saw as very damaged, and now she's with this guy, and all these people around her, I think, we've really had to step up a strength, and a confidence in her so that I don't look like the little baby kid sister tagging along.
Q: What kind of fire things are we going to see in this? Is she like barbequing dinner?
SB: No, there's not as much. There are a few moments of that, but Liz doesn't cook, so there's no barbecuing dinner. But you know, there's nothing really too comedic with it. But I don't know, because Guillermo could add that in post. I could be having a scene where I think I'm fully on it and just having a normal dramatic scene, and I don't know, there could be flames coming out of me in post, and that changes everything. I don't know.
Q: Is your average day just standing around waiting, like this?
SB: There's some moments where Guillermo's had to say, 'Okay, now you're going to feel really self-conscious, but you just have to go there.' And then after I give it my whole, like [roars loudly], he's like, 'Okay, take it down next time.' And he tells me how much I embarrass myself. So I try and just let it rip. And everyone's so understanding on this. But yeah, I'm sure I look like a complete moron, and we'll fix a lot in ADR.
Q: Have you bonded with Anna? You don't really have any scenes together.
SB: No, we have really one second together where I grab her hand outside and usher he away. But yes, we get along great. She's beautiful. I hope to do all my press with her, because she's just, it's so great to show, I want to show people that this isn't just a guy movie. This has another woman in it, she's a hero. Bitty was in the last one and she was lovely, but she was the villain, so they don't kind of promote the movies as much. But she's gorgeous, Anna, and she's a wonderful leading lady and I wish she weren't so pretty. I kept trying to tell Guillermo to make her clothes really lumpy so that I was cuter, but it didn't work out. She's pretty perfect. And we are friends. We went to Vienna together and we'll continue to be friends. And I hope we really get to promote this movie together to get more of a female audience. There are really strong women in this film and they're cute like Anna and they're short and brown like me.
Q: Guillermo has said he has an idea for the next film. Has he talked with you about it?
SB: Yeah. I mean, he has shared it with me. I'm just praying that he'll do it. I mean, I'm praying the third one will come, because for me that would be the strongest one for my character. So selfishly I want that. But I also think the story of the third one will be so haunting and just such a major story that I think it would be such a shame to cheat it and just end with the second. So I hope the third one is made, but I know it's been exhausting.
Q: Is that being hinted at in the scene that we saw filming?
SB: Yeah. I think the scene we're filming now really hints at the direction, what would happen to Liz, inferring that she would suffer the most and that this choice is going to come at a high price. I mean, that's a pretty huge lead-up to a third movie. How could Liz suffer the most with this choice and if the Angel of Death swears that the destruction is about to happen, then what could that choice be? And I think that's just for two people in love and two people with powers, it's a really dramatic third story.
Q: In the third movie you'll have to wear lots of make up and big huge outfits.
SB: Yeah. That's how they'll get me back. I'll be wearing a red prosthetic too. No, I hope we'll make it.
Q: Guillermo is producing Death the High Cost of Living. That seems right up your alley.
SB: Yeah. I mean, I wanted to play Death for a long time. On the first one people would see me and they'd say, 'Oh my God, you have to play Death. You have to play Death.' And Guillermo, I didn't know he was doing Death at the time. And I don't think he knew for sure that he'd be kind of teaming up with Neil for that, or helping Neil out. And he'd say, 'Yeah, yeah. Good. Selma, you'd be good for Death.' And then crickets, crickets. So I think he definitely has his eye on someone, and I would know if it were me. So it's not me. So I'll give it up. But it's something I'll see. I love that character, and that's kind of really right up my alley, so I'll be first in line to see it, but sadly, it definitely won't be me. Because I would know.
Q: Did you talk to Neil while he was here.
SB: Yeah, yeah. I'm good friends with Neil. And that still didn't get me the job. I'm reading Stardust right now. It's beautiful.
Q: They already did that one.
SB: I know, I know. So no pressure. So I don't have to fight for it. No, but I love it.
Q: You mentioned some of the stuff that happened in L.A. before you left. Did that lend an appeal to leaving L.A. behind for a bit and going to another country?
SB: Yeah, well, when I went through some personal changes I actually went away to Belfast, the most depressing place in the world, to shoot "W Delta Z" so I got away. And made kind of a really chilling movie, and then it made coming back home something to look forward to. But no, you know, this just came. This happened. I signed this-- I don't think I still have signed this contract for this film, to tell you the truth, that I'm on right now. But we kind of knew it was going like two days before I few out here. So no, but actually Ahmet and I are really close and he's been out here and been with me and he loves Guillermo very much. He's still the closest person in my life. So no, there's nothing too dramatic I want to get away from back home.
Q: So W Delta Z, who's in that?
SB: Stellan Skarsgard and Melissa George.
Q: Is that coming out next year some time?
SB: I'm not sure. You'd know more about that.
Q: Who are you playing in that?
SB: I play a girl that went through a really hard time. I was attacked by kind of a gang of guys and it's just kind of woven into the story that Stellan and Melissa are figuring out. But it's great watching him work. Stellan is wonderful, and Melissa's always great. But Stellan is one of my favorite actors in the world, so just to be near him was very satisfying.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army opens July 11, 2008!