Set Visit: Interview with Doug Jones for Hellboy II
Despite being one of the nicest guys youll 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 guys 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 Guillermos 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 PANS LABYRINTH, of course, you had eyes on your hands as well
Yeah, hes got this thing with eyes, Guillermo. He refuses to let me see when Im on film. Ive stumbled around many a set now.
Can you see anything right now?
Well, Im 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.
Im also playing the Chamberlain in this, whichI dont know, have you seen it?
No, not yet.
The Chamberlain is a very tall headed thing with two eyes at the top. Theyre mechanical, so Im 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 Abes in this a lot though, and youve got two other characters, havent 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! Its for Guillermo.
Im 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. Hes 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 Im written in to almost every scene as Abe. And then add to that these other two characters and I just dont 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. Abemy 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 thats a trick! You didnt 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 didnt 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 its 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 Abes story this time?
Abes story? Well, oh golly, I dont 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 dont know, I wouldnt say leader but hes the brains, hes the intellect of the team. Even Jeffery Tambors character Agent Manning kinda comes to Abe to complain about Hellboy. You know? Hes become that character. In the absence of a dad, I think Abe sort of stepped up. But I but hes still very much a younger brother to Hellboy, because Hellboys very protective. He knows the ways of the world and Abe is kind of innocent. And I think thats whats so great about the storyline this time the love interest thing. Abes never had love before. So theres this adolescence sort of thing going on with him that I just love. Its so fun to revisit that time of my life, because Im WAY past it now. And so to rediscover what its 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 doesnt matter as long as you know. So your decision making and your choices may not be completely sound. So youll see Abe go through a little process with that. And its, uh .great. Thats the safest thing to say.
And it will be your voice this time?
Yes, and Ive 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 Im basically not changing my voice any. Im still giving the same voice I did on the first film, before it was voiced over.
So youre 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 werent that far apart from each others performance anyways, so Im just going back to what I gave it. I dont know if youve seen the HELLBOY II website yet or not; theres a little video clip of me greeting you and thats 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 its gonna need some cleanup. And then of course I had my fish teeth in, so its never perfect on set but dont judge me!
Anna [Walton, Abes love interest] mentioned that she doesnt like the raw eggs. Is that gonna be a problem with your love story?
You know, oddly enough we dont address the egg issue at all in this film.
In the third movie, then.
Yeah, I think hell be hungry by then. You dont see me eat anything in this. Of course Hellboys always snacking, cuz thats what he does.
Hows your relationship with Ron developed in this movie?
I just love Ron. Ron and I are closer now than weve ever been. And even though Ive played in a lot of fantasy and comic book films now I told him its my greatest honor to be his sidekick. It really is. And off camera were very much like Abe and Hellboy. In fact, he said that. At the beginning of the film he gave me a lovely quote and Im almost embarrassed to tell you this... Hows 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 somewhereof course it hasnt beenbut itd be nice if Hellboy could look at Abe at some point and say, I dont know if Ill ever know what its like to be as good as you. Thats what he said. And its very humbling, like Youre kidding me. What does the man think of me? What have I done to make him think Im an angel? Hes gruff, grumpy Ron, you know, and we love him that way. I wouldnt want him to change for a minute. And he thinks Im too nice. He tells me so all the time. And he says, Quit being so nice. Youre 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. Youll findIm not giving anything awaythe Angel of Death has been youre 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. Thats what she was created for.
Thats what she was created for?
Well, thats her only reason to be.
She didnt come out of the Ark of the Covenant?
[laughs] No. Youre 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, theres a goblin involved in this scene that shows the BPRD team where to find me. And Im [as Abe] on the BPRD team too. Thats 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 hes referring tothe 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 couldve easily changed it.
I think the androgyny though is delicious. I really do. I dont know that angels even have a I do believe there are such things as angels. Do they have a sex? I dont know.
But you refer to the Angel as a her.
The script does. So thats why I do. I think she has feminine qualities, but also not totally a woman either. But thats okay; I love characters that keep you guessing. Who is what is that? Thats another Guillermo trait I think too. Especially with PANS 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 cant tell you Ive never been this exhausted on a film. Ive never been this satisfied on a film. This is probably gonna be the most Ive ever done onscreen in any one movie and its an opportunity that most actors would just give their left leg for. So I couldnt be happier, but I also couldnt be more tired. [laughs] And Im 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 hiredthey were talking about it at Comic-Con, so thats how I heard about him.
J. Michael Straczynski?
Right. But as far as timing goes, I dont know. As far as if theyre gonna come back for me again Im 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 elses voice?
I would like that to change.
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