Doug Jones certainly earns his money in Hellboy II, playing three different characters. Read the first of our Hellboy interviews here
Many have called Doug Jones the muse of
Guillermo Del Toro. The cult director certainly is a fan of the actor and has
used him in four of his movies so far. In the latest Hellboy movie – ‘The Golden
Army’ Del Toro has called upon Jones to play three different characters, each
wildly different from the other. Here Jones plays Abe, The Chamberlain and The
Angel Of Death. How did he juggle three roles in a summer blockbuster? Read on…
Q: You’ve worked with director Guillermo four times
now. What’s the secret to why the two of you work
so well together?
I don’t live at his house and cook his breakfast
for him which many people think now (laughs). But we have a director/actor
language with each other that requires very few words. I understand his crazy,
insane mind and he understands my capabilities and my limitations as an actor more
than I do. When he was doing Pan’s Labyrinth and doing his sketches of Fauno
and Pale Man he had me in mind, period. He called me up to say ‘No-one can do
them but you. You have to do this movie. Read the script and tell me what you
think but you have to do it. When he told me no one could do it but me that was
extremely intimidating. That’s because I feel nothing but my shortcomings and
limitations. I’m very insecure, as most actors are. He sees potential in me and
he really knows what I’m capable of. By the end of filming, I was like ‘Oh my
gosh, I think he was right!’ I was terrified of the Spanish in that one as
well. He gets me. I love the way he
writes. He touches on heart nerves and he also touches on laughter, soul, and
our funny bone so much. His story telling is flawless to me. He is truly a
genius and when a genius has an idea of what he wants you don’t question it.
You just say ‘Yes, sir.’
You play three characters – Abe, The
Chamberlain and The Angel of Death in the Hellboy sequel. How was that?
Well, I’ll tell you two things. One, I have never
been as depleted, exhausted and spent and missing a piece of my soul as I was
after doing this film and two, I’ve never been as fulfilled and satisfied as an
actor. Being able to reprise a role in a sequel is something I’ve never done
before. I’ve been in sequels, but as a new character. It was a treat to get
back with the family with Guillermo del Toro, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor and
Ron Perlman. Guillermo is like the dad of the family. If he asked me to jump
off a cliff backwards I would do that, knowing it was going to be something
which was going to look beautiful and become art on film.
What did you think when you heard you had to play three characters this time
When I read the script the first time and saw how
expanded and beautiful Abe was on almost every page of the script and then,
wait, two more characters as well? I thought I am not going to sleep much am I?
That’s why I came home more exhausted than ever before. I was very, very tired.
I had fewer days off than anyone else in the cast. I did actually work more
days in make-up than anyone else because I had three characters to do. When Abe
Sapien had a day off, the Angel of Death didn’t, when the Angel of Death had a
day off Chamberlain didn’t. That was the part that was a little bit testing on
my person, but I got to play three delicious characters.
Q: What was it like to play Abe again?
Abe Sapien is beautiful. It is been amazing to grow
with him in this movie and see so many different levels of personality come out
now. We saw some more badass Abe. He was holding a weapon and smashing tooth
fairies in his hands and at the same time, having more buddy buddy on screen
time with Hellboy. He had more brother sister time with Liz and that for me too
was a treat.
Q: How tough is the schedule when you’re playing
three different characters?
Of the 128-day film shoot, I was in make-up 108 of
those days. On the first Hellboy I was in make-up 17 days so this was a league
beyond what I’d ever done before. I’ve done a lot of movies in a lot of make-up
in costumes, but this was six days a week, 18 hours a day.
Q: What was it like being in the costumes and
While the smell of glue was going up my nose I kept
wondering ‘How many brain cells am I killing here? I’m proud of myself for
living through it (laughs).
Q: How long did it take to physically transform
There are different stages of becoming Abe. It
depends on how much blue fish is covered up. The more of him that’s showing,
the longer it’s going to take.
In the first movie, it took seven hours because I
had a bunch of prosthetic pieces that were glued to me – it was seven hours
with three people doing it. This time, we got it down to five hours. It’s
nothing (laughs). This time, though I could slip on the legs instead of having
prosthetic pieces glued.
Q: And how long does it take to remove all the
make-up and costume pieces?
Usually it would be anywhere between one to two
hours with four people on all limbs trying to get me out of there as fast as
Q: Do you prefer doing work with prosthetics or
I don’t have a preference to be honest with you. If
you had asked me that a couple of years ago I might have said that I would love
to phase out the prosthetic make-up one day and retire using this face. Now
though, with recent successes, I’m feeling like I can bring some dignity to
this style of acting that came from the golden era, like Boris Karloff and Lon
Chaney – if we can have that kind of a world to act in then I will wear rubber
on my face until the day I die.
Hellboy II : The Golden Army is at Irish cinemas