Despite being one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet (co-star Luke Goss said he makes him feel like a “heinous, evil human being”), it was incredibly intimidating interviewing Doug Jones. Not just because I was talking to the Silver Surfer himself, but due to the fact that the man was fully decked out as the Angel of Death…which is absolutely as terrifying as it sounds. As my nightmares will attest, it was one hell of a costume, pulled off by the talented folks at Spectral Motion. The wings themselves weighed forty pounds suspended by wire, and at one point slipped and nearly crushed the poor guy’s spine.
Death is one of three characters Jones plays in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, the others being Abe Sapien, obviously, and a giant fellow by the name of The Chamberlain. The man behind the masks was more than happy to speak with us, despite having been in the rig for several tiring hours (not including the three and a half it takes just getting in to the thing!). But first he talked to us in character as the Angel, striking eerie poses and beckoning us with an evil raspy voice; “Who wants to go first?”
Tell us about your character.
The concept of the Angel of Death of course, as most characters in Guillermo’s films, started on his little sketchpad…and his sick mind. And then it goes to the designers, kind of a collaborative effort. Mike Mignola had some say in this as well, as with many characters in the film.
And in PAN’S LABYRINTH, of course, you had eyes on your hands as well…
Yeah, he’s got this thing with eyes, Guillermo. He refuses to let me see when I’m on film. I’ve stumbled around many a set now.
Can you see anything right now?
Well, I’m looking through the cracks [the makeup had tiny hairline cracks]— a crack runs this way [motions vertically] and a crack runs that way [motions horizontally]. Those are the main ones. They have some holes in here too. I actually have better vision in this than with my other characters.
I’m also playing the Chamberlain in this, which—I don’t know, have you seen it?
No, not yet.
The Chamberlain is a very tall headed thing with two eyes at the top. They’re mechanical, so I’m kinda left with a hole or two in the face. And then of course Abe is the usual tomfoolery of, like, looking through little tears ducts and then when the goggles are on they fog up…so I stumble around quite a bit.
If Abe’s in this a lot though, and you’ve got two other characters, haven’t you taken on rather a lot with this?
[looks around, whispers] Oh my gosh, yes.
Yeah, I had no idea how much I was taking on. “Three characters. Pssshh….sure! It’s for Guillermo.”
I’m sure you get three paychecks though, right?
Yeah, uh, no.
But Abe Sapien is much bigger and much better this time, in this movie. He has been an absolute treat for me to play this time. He’s been given so many different colors and levels and so much more story. The love interest is such a yummy thing to chew on. [Note: Anna Walton…who can blame him?] And his buddy time with Hellboy is more concrete. His brother-sister time with Selma as Liz Sherman…even better. And I’m written in to almost every scene as Abe. And then add to that these other two characters and I just don’t get a day off. You know what I mean? Six day weeks for six months have been kinda brutal.
Are there any scenes with Abe and other characters you play?
In this one we have a close call. Abe—my photo double was standing outside that keyhole there in the Abe makeup so they could get a “both of us in the same shot at the same time” kind of a thing. But that’s a trick! You didn’t hear that.
How long have you been hanging there?
This is day 2, er…3? [to one of the guys] Is this the third day? We were on standby the first day and didn’t film. That happens a lot. But yeah, you can see the wire holding up the wings. Those wings are about 40-some pounds we decided. And you know that may not seem like that much, but when it’s all concentrated on one spot on your back it helps to have a little wire. Or otherwise…I was becoming grumpy boy.
So what is Abe’s story this time?
Abe’s story? Well, oh golly, I don’t want to give anything away... However, in the absence of Professor Bloom this time, I think Abe has sort of stepped up as a, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say leader but he’s the brains, he’s the intellect of the team. Even Jeffery Tambor’s character Agent Manning kinda comes to Abe to complain about Hellboy. You know? He’s become that character. In the absence of a dad, I think Abe sort of stepped up. But I…but he’s still very much a younger brother to Hellboy, because Hellboy’s very protective. He knows the ways of the world and Abe is kind of innocent. And I think that’s what’s so great about the storyline this time…the love interest thing. Abe’s never had love before. So there’s this adolescence sort of thing going on with him that I just love. It’s so fun to revisit that time of my life, because I’m WAY past it now. And so to rediscover what it’s like to fall in love that first time and then the stupid decisions you make and how you just become obsessed with this one focus, you know. And the rest of the world doesn’t matter as long as…you know. So your decision making and your choices may not be completely sound. So you’ll see Abe go through a little process with that. And it’s, uh….great. That’s the safest thing to say.
And it will be your voice this time?
Yes, and I’ve been having a great time with that as well.
You had some experience voicing the cartoon?
I did. SWORD OF STORMS and BLOOD AND IRON…I did have a great time with that. And I’m basically not changing my voice any. I’m still giving the same voice I did on the first film, before it was voiced over.
So you’re not trying to sound like David Hyde Pierce?
No, no. It would get confusing at this point, if I was trying to sound like David Hyde Pierce trying to sound like me, you know. That would be like…what?! David and I weren’t that far apart from each other’s performance anyways, so I’m just going back to what I gave it. I don’t know if you’ve seen the HELLBOY II website yet or not; there’s a little video clip of me greeting you and that’s pretty much what he sounds like. That was without ADR, without any kind of sweetening. My nose is a little bit plugged in the Abe makeup, so it’s gonna need some cleanup. And then of course I had my fish teeth in, so it’s never perfect on set but…don’t judge me!
Anna [Walton, Abe’s love interest] mentioned that she doesn’t like the raw eggs. Is that gonna be a problem with your love story?
You know, oddly enough we don’t address the egg issue at all in this film.
In the third movie, then.
Yeah, I think he’ll be hungry by then. You don’t see me eat anything in this. Of course Hellboy’s always snacking, cuz that’s what he does.
How’s your relationship with Ron developed in this movie?
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 now I told him it’s my greatest honor to be his sidekick. It really is. And off camera we’re very much like Abe and Hellboy. In fact, he said that. At the beginning of the film he gave me a lovely quote and I’m almost embarrassed to tell you this... How’s that for a set up? Now you want to hear it! He said he thought that Abe and Hellboy were very much like Doug and Ron. He said, in fact, he wanted a line written in to this film somewhere—of course it hasn’t been—but it’d be nice if Hellboy could look at Abe at some point and say, “I don’t know if I’ll ever know what it’s like to be as good as you.” That’s what he said. And it’s very humbling, like “You’re kidding me.” What does the man think of me? What have I done to make him think I’m an angel? He’s gruff, grumpy Ron, you know, and we love him that way. I wouldn’t want him to change for a minute. And he thinks I’m too nice. He tells me so all the time. And he says, “Quit being so nice. You’re making me look like an asshole.”
[In reference to his makeup] Is there a reason behind the mindset of the head with the half circle?
I never got the low down on all that, as far as the design concept and where it came from. But to me this kind of has a halo look to it, but in a broken down way. You’ll find—I’m not giving anything away—the Angel of Death has been…you’re sitting in her lair right now. She kinda came here to rest while waiting for her task. And her task is basically going to be Hellboy. That’s what she was created for.
That’s what she was created for?
Well, that’s her only reason to be.
She didn’t come out of the Ark of the Covenant?
[laughs] No. You’re looking at a character who sits and waits a lot. So she has no intention of dying just yet.
Guillermo was saying these are souls that you use to snack on in the meantime?
Why, sure. Well, there’s a goblin involved in this scene that shows the BPRD team where to find me. And I’m [as Abe] on the BPRD team too. That’s the confusing part. So Abe and Liz and Hellboy come in here with the Goblin and he refers…”You know I brought you so many gifts, you gotta help us.” And I think he’s referring to—the Goblin has helped collect some of my specimens here as well.
What was the thinking in making the Angel a woman?
Yeah, with me in it, right.
They could’ve easily changed it.
I think the androgyny though is delicious. I really do. I don’t know that angels even have a…I do believe there are such things as angels. Do they have a sex? I don’t know.
But you refer to the Angel as a her.
The script does. So that’s why I do. I think she has feminine qualities, but also not totally a woman either. But that’s okay; I love characters that keep you guessing. “Who is…what is that?” That’s another Guillermo trait I think too. Especially with PAN’S LABYRINTH after seeing the Faun and wondering like, is he good or evil? You never know. So many questions…
[The publicist alerts us that Guillermo wants us on the outdoor set.]
One last question, aside from the difficulty of playing multiple characters in the same film, is there a sense of enjoyment or pleasure doing that as well?
I can’t tell you… I’ve never been this exhausted on a film. I’ve never been this satisfied on a film. This is probably gonna be the most I’ve ever done onscreen in any one movie and it’s an opportunity that most actors would just give their left leg for. So I couldn’t be happier, but I also couldn’t be more tired. [laughs] And I’m really looking forward to the premiere.
Real quick, is there gonna be a Silver Surfer spinoff?
I know as much as you do about that. I wish I knew more. Supposedly they have a writer hired—they were talking about it at Comic-Con, so that’s how I heard about him.
J. Michael Straczynski?
Right. But as far as timing goes, I don’t know. As far as if they’re gonna come back for me again…I’m contracted for two more. Whether they exercise that contract or not is up to them.
Would you like to?
I would like to.
Even with someone else’s voice?
I…would like that to change.