INT: Selma Blair

I think deep down I was secretly hoping that Selma Blair would turn out to be a horrible person who hates candy and puppies, if only so I could starve off my crush on her long enough to complete this interview without stuttering like an idiot. Unfortunately for me, Ms. Blair turned out to be really cool, incredibly down to earth and not at all intimidating (until she whipped out the gun attached to her belt). And despite a successful career ranging from mainstream fare like LEGALLY BLONDE to arthouse stuff ala STORYTELLING, she was very open about her professional and personal life; no BS and no pretension.

When she sat down to talk to us about
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, she was in full character as Liz Sherman; all black leather outfit, the aforementioned holstered gun, and a brand new haircut. And don’t worry; I’ve edited out all my stuttering and drooling.

Selma Blair

Did you ever think you’d be playing Liz again?

I hoped I would. The first one was such an introduction, you know, to the story of Hellboy. And 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 created in her life. So yeah, it was really good to come play Liz with a little more vibrancy.

Did it take much time to get back in the role?

Well its taken four years… [laughs] I thought it’d be so simple; I just come and I know this girl, but I realized I didn’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 just moping around. And that’s kinda just in my cell memory as a person, my preconceived idea of what Liz was in the first one. And it seemed 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 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.

Was the haircut something he suggested or…

You know, it was together. I basically went nuts and shaved my head. [laughs] I didn’t go nuts at all. There was actually a girl who wanted my hair. And I’m a giver, so I did that to make a wig for a child. But I just made it a fashion thing and I had this strange shaved head. And so I thought, ‘Guillermo’s gonna 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 saw her. I think it’s a little anime inspired—that was kinda Guillermo. It’s a little stronger. And I think the first one brought my face down. Literally. It was really a gravity type of thing and we didn’t want that as much.

So you’ve shacked up with Hellboy. How’s it been working out? [sighs] Well, it’s worked out about as well as my marriage in real life. [laughs] No, no, no. We’re very good friends. It’s not that sad a thing. You know, it’s difficult living with someone. Especially a guy who takes up as much space as Hellboy, with as many cats as Hellboy has. So we’re very happily together, but you know, there’s trouble with spending so much time with someone you love after you’re used to being alone and having your way. And 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.

Why are you carrying a gun? Isn’t the fire enough?

You’d think so. Talk to Guillermo about that. And it’s REALLY embarrassing. [Pulls out the gun] I wouldn’t pull it 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, “Jesus Christ, don’t I have fire for this?” You know, it’s just a lot of time in the background with my gun drawn. Like I’d just blow ‘em up! I’d just blow em up, but I guess the movie would end. So there’s the gun.

Have you been involved in the New York fight we saw…the set outside?

I’m standing behind my man there. I’m not involved with it. I’m just kinda cheering him on and there to hold his hand when it’s all over.

You could do some destruction yourself. Why not just let you in there?

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 gonna break out with her fire. This is between Hellboy and the Elemental. [Note: Elemental = a big ass monster.]

So she’s really in control of her powers this time around?

Mm-hmm. I mean, I imagine if there was a third one it would be stronger or she wouldn’t have to use them at all. But yeah she can start it and stop it on her own, and is game to be part of the BPRD now.

Have you noticed any discernable difference in Guillermo post-PAN’S LABYRINTH. Has he gained any confidence?

I do. Guillermo…you know, I heard from Ron when he started CRONOS, Guillermo was kind of tentative, but he always had such a strong point of view of what he wanted and the things that made him light up. He does; he has more confidence. This is the most demanding set I’ve ever been on and that’s because Guillermo can. You know, he has the vision and he’s so specific and I think 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 minds. So I imagine this is a strange one to follow up something as kinda precious and dark as PAN’S LABYRINTH. But you know that’s just my imagining, you know that’s just my conjecturing that it would be something very difficult to follow through. He has a preconceived idea of Hellboy and I think he wants to make this bigger and mythological and mythical, you know, in nature. But he’s very specific about what he wants. Sometimes I don’t understand, but he does. So that’s what matters.

Were you familiar with the comic books?

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 BACKNBONE and I loved it. So of course I signed on sight unseen and it’s been the greatest adventure. I’m so grateful he saw something he wanted.

It’s been four years since you made the first one. After two years and they still hadn’t done it, did you think “Oh they’re just not gonna do it?” Were you surprised that the sequel happened?

I was really hoping and…you know, when we started doing the animated ones that didn’t have anything to do with Guillermo, but did have to do with promoting Hellboy, just as a 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] Gonna be able to pay the bills!

But, yeah, I kinda thought it never was gonna happen. But Guillermo didn’t give up and when he gave me the call at 11 o’clock one night and said that they had financing it was really a relief. And it was something I was waiting for and hoping for and it does feel like back with family. It’s a whole new experience. It’s amazing.

You voice the animated version of yourself also.

[With a hint of sarcasm] Yeah, what a delight that is. That’s like Daria doing the voice of Liz.


Do you do that at the same time? Like when you’re not shooting?

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. I was doing that at home before we started this, six months ago

Has there been talk of any more animated films?

You know, I know one was nominated for an Emmy, and I’m glad that one person who nominated it bought it. Because that’s about the only copy I know of. But one of them was really beautiful, I think SWORD OF STORMS. I don’t know. I haven’t seen them to be honest.


How has the team dynamic changed with the addition of Johann to the group and what’s the dynamic like with all the players in the BPRD now?

It’s been a really different dynamic, because I never really had scenes with Abe, really. There was just one—that really touching scene for me in the first one. That was my only real scene where I felt like a person really communicating with someone. But in this one he’s my buddy. We’re together all the time and all the characters he’s playing. So I kinda feel closest to Doug in this. And always Ron. You know, Ron’s my neighbor. I live next to Ron in real life. So Ron’s someone I’m just really close to and kept in touch with and that feels normal. And John Alexander and James, the couple people that play him [Johann]. 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, this cotton tank top is so…it’s just really too much. I don’t know how you guys do it.” I don’t think most people get my humor, so it’s been a little rough.

What is Liz like mentally in this film? In the first one she’s got this bundle of neuroses and now she’s shacking up with Hellboy; does it mean she’s 100% A-OK? Is she banged up a bit spiritually at this point? Or is she starting to get her life straightened out?

I think she’s really getting her life back and looking to the future much more and things are happening in this one that she just 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—you know, Liz needs this moment where she saves the day for a moment or she advises someone to do something, to really just try to pump it up. Because I think even though I’m not at all a girl in real life, I think I can come off as just part of my own energy and I can come off as younger than I really am, not by looks necessarily, but just by my presence. So you’re dealing with this young girl, who we last saw as very damaged, and now she’s with this guy and all these people around her. So we’ve really had to step up a strength and a confidence in her so she doesn’t look like the little baby kid sister tagging along.

How many fire things are we gonna see in this one? Is she like barbecuing dinner?

No, there’s a few moments of that, but Liz doesn’t cook. So there’s no barbecuing. There’s nothing really too comedic with it. But, you know, 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, having a normal dramatic scene and there could be flames coming out of me in post. That changes everything, so I don’t know.

Is your average day just standing around waving like this? (mimics shooting a fireball)

There’s some moments where Guillermo’s had to say, “Now, you’re going to feel really self-conscious but you just have to…” And then after I give it my whole like [screams loudly]—he’s like “Seriously, take it down. That’s really embarrassing.” But I just try to let it rip. And everyone is so understanding of that, But yeah, sure, I look like a complete moron. And we’ll fix a lot in ADR.

HELLBOY is very male dominated, but this time you have Anna [Walton, who play’s Princess Nuala] also. Have you bonded with her at all or had any scenes together?

We have, really, one second together where I grab her hand outside and usher her 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—I want to show people that this isn’t just a guy movie. This has another woman in it who’s a hero. You know, Biddy [Hodson, who played Rasputin’s mistress Ilsa] was in the last one. She was lovely, but she was the villain so they don’t kind of promote the movie as much. But she’s gorgeous, Anna. She’s a wonderful leading lady and I wish she weren’t so pretty. I’ve been trying to tell Guillermo to make her clothes really lumpy so that I would feel cuter. But it didn’t work out; she’s pretty perfect. And we are friends. We went to Vienna together and I hope we really get to promote this movie together to get a more female audience—that there are real strong women in this film. And they’re cute like Anna. And they’re short and brown like me.

Guillermo said he has an idea where he wants a sequel—a third movie—to go. Does he share that with you and did that impact your performance, knowing what happens?

Yeah, he has shared it with me. I’m just praying that he’ll do it. I’m praying that 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 that the story of the third one would be so haunting and 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 a third one is made. I know that it’s been exhausting.


Is that what’s being hinted at in the scene we saw filming?

Yeah, the scene we’re filming now really hints at the direction of 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 for two people in love and two people with powers it’s a really dramatic third story.


In the third movie you’ll have to wear a lot of makeup and a huge outfit.

Yeah, that’s how they’ll get me back. I’ll be wearing a red prosthetic suit. No, I hope we do make it.

Speaking of the future, you know Guillermo is going to be producing DEATH, THE HIGH COST OF LIVING. And I don’t know about anybody else but I can’t help but look at you and think that that is so right up your alley.

I’ve wanted to play Death for a long time. On the first one, people would see me and say “Oh my God, oh my God, you have to play Death.” And Guillermo, I didn’t know he would be doing DEATH at the time, and I don’t think he knew for sure that he would be teaming up with Neil [Gaiman] for that or helping Neil out. And he’d say “Yeah, yeah. Good, Selma, you’d be good for that.” And then “cricket, cricket.” So I think he definitely has his eye on someone and I would know if it was me, so it’s not me. So I’ll give it up. But it’s something I’ll see. I love that character. That’s kinda 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.

Did you get to talk to Neil when he was here?

Yeah, yeah. I’m good friends with Neil. And that still didn’t get me the job. [laughs] I’m reading Stardust right now and it’s beautiful.

They already did that one…

I know, I know. So no pressure, so I don’t have to fight. But I love it.

You mentioned in passing some of the stuff that had happened back home not too long ago. Did that sort of lend a certain appeal to leaving LA behind for a bit and just sort of going off to a different country and putting things on hold for a bit and just concentrating on doing a cool film for a while?

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 it made coming back home something to look forward to. [laughs]

But you know this just happened. I just signed this…I still don’t think I have signed a contract for this movie, to tell you the truth. We kinda knew it was going like two days before I flew out here. But actually Ahmet [Zappa, ex-husband] and I are really close. 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.

So W Δ (DELTA) Z, who’s in that?

Stellan Skarsgård and Melissa George.

Right, so is that coming out next year some time?

I’m not sure. February?

Who do you play in that?

I play a girl who went through uh, a really, um…hard time. [laughs] I was attacked by a gang of guys. It’s kinda woven in to the story, but Stellan and Melissa are figuring out. It’s great watching them work. Stellan is wonderful and Melissa is always great. But Stellan is one of my favorite actors in the world, so just to be near him was very satisfying.

Read Part One of our interview with Guillermo del Toro here!!

Read our full HELLBOY II set visit here!!

Source: JoBlo.comAITH

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