Here we are again with another ‘semi-exclusive’ interview. As I said in the Guillermo del Toro interview, this is semi-exclusive because Kelvin from Latino Review and I were the only people on set at the time; other sites visited Hellboy II: The Golden Army, but weeks off we had already torn the roof off that mother.
After spending a full day on the set and then grabbing some dinner, Kelvin and I headed to a hotel near the Danube in Budapest where we would meet up with the cast over some drinks. Our first attempt to interview Selma Blair was stymied by a piano player at the bar; eventually we found a quiet cozy corner and we talked.
The first time I interviewed Blair was on the set of The Fog. She walked into the room, took the falsies out of her bra and threw them at someone. I knew from that moment I would love her forever, and chatting with her in Budapest only reinforced that. Later in the evening, after talking to everyone else, we sidled up to Blair at the bar and she was hilarious and saucy. Even later than that, Guillermo showed up and she was like a schoolgirl, so excited to see him. That was great because she could be otherwise so deadpan, and seeing her get legitimately excited about seeing this guy – even after spending months on set with him! – only reinforced how much love and respect the cast has for their visionary director.
We interviewed Ron Perlman this morning. We talked to Hellboy as he had his bacon and eggs.
Good for you. That’s pretty surreal right. Was he in his face, his Hellboy face?
It was just the head.Nigel was with him.
Right. The dog Nigel.
He says that you have –
A one eyed dog named Wink who Wink was named after, the monster in the movie. Guillermo met Wink on the first one.
How did Wink wind up with one eye?
Wink wound up with one eye – I don’t know. I just got her as a stray.
You rescued her?
Yeah. Rescued. That sounds so heroic and so aggressive. I like it. Rescued.
Ron said that you have a lot more going on this time, that Liz has a lot more going on?
I would hope so. I do. Liz is very much more of an active character in this one. I think that in the first one it was really kind of a setup in her character and where Hellboy had come from and what he felt. It was more about telling his love for something and that he was capable of love. Liz was so kind of passive until the end and she definitely is part of the story this time and she owns her power. It’s been a strange thing for me trying to figure out her character. It’s kind of been baby steps for me because I was so used to kind of Liz who was afraid to take hold of her power. So every time I’m kind of asked to do that by Guillermo I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ He’s like, ‘Please. Don’t ruin my movie. Just do it.’ [laughs]
The relationship is coming from a very different place because it’s a year later and you guys are living together and your eye is wandering. Is that the story?
My eye is wandering?! Where did you hear that? That is not true. I do not have a wandering eye in this movie. Where did you hear that?
We heard that there was trouble in the relationship and that Hellboy is concerned.
There is trouble in the relationship. I’m unhappy.
Why are you unhappy, because he’s a slob?
No. It can’t just be put down to one thing. I think that I might’ve just moved too quickly into the relationship and it might be time for me to think on my own. Some things happen.
We know that Jonathan isn’t back and we find out that he was sent to Antarctica by Hellboy.
Yeah. There is no other man. I’m Hellboy’s girl. I’m just not sure about how much longer I should be Hellboy’s girl.
You said it’s a different thing for you with the character because she’s more confident this time around. So how do you approach that? Is this your first sequel?
It is my first sequel.
So how do you approach the character growth?
It’s been weird. I thought that it’d be so easy because I thought, ‘Well, I inhabit Liz’s skin. I’m the one that made her. This is a no brainer. I just come on set and I do what Guillermo has written. This should be a no brainer.’ But I have found that it’s really been a challenge for me as Liz to kind of take control of a group of men. I mean, Liz was never a wilting violet, ever, but she just wasn’t so aggressive with her love of Hellboy, announcing her love of Hellboy and being willing to take control of her power. So it really has been a strange thing and there aren’t other actors on set usually when it comes time to do my scenes because they’ve been in makeup for the last twenty hours and have to get out of it. So I’m doing my scenes against the palm of Guillermo’s hand. That’s what he does for little children, he tells me. He was expecting me to just do a scene by looking out in the distance and envisioning it, but I’m too literal minded for that. So he does like, ‘Here he comes and here he is behind him.’ It’s so embarrassing. I had the nickname of Monkey Brain on the first one because I can’t quite talk and imagine and all of it. I’m not really meant for this type of film. I’m much more of a Merchant/Ivory girl, I think. So it’s been an odd trip and I apologize to Guillermo because I love him so much, but he’s a magician and he’ll make it work.
Is there that much imagining because we’ve been on these incredible sets and everyone else is in these full body costumes and walking around – how does that work for you as an actress?
Well, we get to see it all because Guillermo is apparently so crazy about having it all there. Things that could probably be done in CGI or whatever he really wants to see them instead. This is his dream. This is his love and all of these monster makers have done such an incredible job. I really think it’s pioneering work. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be lauded for what an amazing job these people are doing. Like I said though, by the time it gets to my scenes where I’m actually speaking to one of these amazing creatures they’re off getting their prosthetics off. So I’m kind of like, ‘Guillermo, is it on the right or the left of the camera?’ He’s like, ‘Monkey Brain, just do it.’ My role is so obvious it seems, I think. I’m the only one without a mask on in this movie. I’m the only one without makeup. I’m the only one that’s really the face and eyes. I feel like sometimes it’s so easy to get overlooked because it seems so obvious and simple, but at the same time I’m the only that’s supposed to have human emotions and looking at another being and I’m just not, ever really.
When you’re doing scenes with the actual people there with you, if they’re in a big suit they have to go bigger to get things across. You’re probably acting on a different level because you’re able to act with your face, right?
Yeah. I find that some people’s eye lines, because no one else in the movie really has eyes that you can tell exactly – they all have contacts and things, and so when my eye line is off it looks like I’m looking towards Nebraska where everyone else is kind of on the same page. Then the one that’s the simplest one can make the most mistakes. So hopefully we’re catching them as I go because I would hate to be the one to fudge up his movie. It’s just something new to work with that I never thought about as an actress. I’ve thought about stage things and then film things is something that I’ve been getting used to through the years, and then when you’re dealing with special FX and creatures, actors that are under pounds of makeup it’s difficult to adjust to for me. It really is.
Is it easier for you to work with Ron and Guillermo for a second time around on this?
There’s never been any difficulty working with Ron and Guillermo. They’re the most generous and loving men. I mean, you couldn’t ask for anything more working with them. It’s just my own thing of knowing how to ask where these creatures are and if this creature is eight feet wide or two feet wide because I haven’t met him yet. It’s more like, ‘What am I looking at? Is the Prince moving quickly or slowly?’ Working here though is like being back with family. It’s just a whole new experience for me as an actress. It was easier in ‘Hellboy 1′ because my character was so passive that I could just kind of look at it and take it in and now I actually have to step up to these characters that are so huge.
How is it to have Doug Jones as Abe Sapien?
It’s great that he’s finally getting to use his voice. He plays so many characters and you think that under all these layers of makeup that these actors would have to go so big and broad like they’re on a stage to show their things, but they’re such pros at it. They’re so subtle. It can just be the slightest flick of Doug’s neck as Abe Sapien and you have the character. So it’s been an amazing experience watching them. It’s definitely made me want to be a better actress.
So I guess it’s been three or four years since you shot the first ‘Hellboy’. Did you believe there was going to be a sequel?
I hoped. I hoped. I thought that ‘Hellboy 1′ was so beautiful and fantastical that I had no idea how huge ‘Hellboy 2′ could be. In making this one I see that this is a massive undertaking. I’ve been on huge sets of huge blockbuster movies, not necessarily ones that I’ve acted in, but I have friends [laughs] – I have famous friends! – and this is completely on a level of it’s own and it’s miraculous.
You’re here for two more months and then what do you have planned when you get home?
I don’t know.
Nothing lined up?
No. I have nothing lined up.
You’re not trying to book everything in case the strike happens?
Do I look like someone who’s booking everything. I rode here on my scooter [and she doesn’t mean the motorized kind].
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
No, I appreciate it. I love this movie and I hope that I don’t fuck it up!