The first time I ever saw Luke Goss was as Nomak, the pussy mouthed vampire in Blade II, but CHUD’s English readers probably know him as one of the twins in the band Bros. To show you the kind of great research I do, I still didn’t know this about Goss’ past until Kelvin from Latino Review and I sat down with him for some drinks at a Budapest hotel. Kelvin knew him from his music career – I shudder to imagine how many Bros albums Kelvin owns!
In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Goss plays Prince Nuada, elfen royalty who decides to bring war to humanity. He’s the big bad guy of the piece, and Guillermo showed us some footage of the climactic battle between Nuada and Hellboy – footage that was very unfinished but still quite breath taking.
You’re a new character in this film so can you kind of give us some background on who the Prince is?
Yeah. The Prince to me -and I haven’t really described him yet so bear with me – but he’s the most pure bad guy that I could ever dream of playing because he’s not driven by money or greed or all the horrible shit that would be inspiring some of the worst bad guys. He’s inspired by what he believes is right. Normally you don’t have an opinion as a human being based on your character’s ideals or beliefs, but the Prince is basically – well he’s an Elf Prince. His father is the Elf King and as the Elf King he’s the King of all the unseen, all of the kind of underworld and all the mystery that you can’t see, but that romantics like me believe and hope to God exist in some strange way. But he’s made a deal with humankind that basically forces like my people, as the Prince, assume second class citizenship for the rest of their fucking lives and that’s not cool with the Prince. Because of that he has issue with his father. Like the last movie that I did with Guillermo [del Toro] we had a discussion primarily about, I think, the good guy/bad guy thing if it’s placed appropriately within the fight scenes you get that shit for free. One punch in each others face and people get it. ‘Okay, you’re the good guy. You’re the bad guy. Excellent.’ So when he’s driven by something way more profound or way more kind of tumultuous or heart wrenching than I think both myself as the actor that gets to play it and the audience who gets to see it, I hope, get so much more. Then you get into that lovely place where you’re not playing a genre movie. You’re playing a story. You’re playing a character. You’re playing the writing and del Toro’s writing is driven primarily by, I think, or like I don’t know if he’s obsessed with Frankenstein or the premise of it but I love the fact that the concept of prejudice is flawed utterly by design. That’s for me as a man, that applies and for this character it applies. The Prince is a great bad guy because as me I totally see his point. I totally see his point. I don’t know how much I can give away on the plot side of things because it’d be a shame to kill it. Certainly though he has issues that are driven by…I know certainly as I’ve been educated by fire with the Guillermo del Toro experience the first time. I call myself a stylish geek just so I don’t feel so bad about it, but I’m really in there. I’m genre fan and I know that we all deserve the best possible opportunity to enjoy these characters.
Was there always the plan to work with Guillermo again after ‘Blade’?
Certainly for me. I’ve done every job with my fingers crossed since I last worked with him. He told me that he’d definitely write for me again and he did. He wrote this for me. There was no audition or anything. I just got a phone call and he said that he’d written this particular part specifically for me. He stood his ground with Universal. I know there were a lot of actors that wanted to work with him after the Academy Awards and stuff. So to be given the opportunity to do something like this was a blessing. He said that and said that I’d be working with him until I’m old and gray. He likes something about what I do and I’m blessed. Not in a corny way either. I’ve not done a great deal, but twenty two feature films and I’ve worked with directors who have no clue what they’re doing and when you’re first learning it’s like, ‘Oh, good, I get to play – ‘ when the director isn’t strong. You get to experiment and then you realize pretty quickly that that’s not a good situation to be in. I mean, it’s nice to have an opinion and to have confidence in your opinion, but it’s nice to have a director who says, ‘No, no, lean more that way.’ They don’t line read you, but they know you’re smart enough and they have an idea of what they need. They know that they can be creative with it and there’s nothing worse than someone thinking they should tell you exactly how to do it because it’s like, ‘Well, then you do it.’
How does the relationship between you and Guillermo work the second time around now?
It’s kind of like this weird type of energy. You see him on the face of things and he’s kind of scruffy and kind of mad and he’s got a great sense of humor, and on the face of it if you were stupid enough to underestimate that man, God bless you, but there’s familiarity between us now. There’s a terminology and a friendship there and there’s no risk of falling out. There’s like this kind of frenetic energy sometimes where my enthusiasm is running full speed and he’s trying to make sense of it which he does. He either likes it or says, ‘Great, great. Shift, but do this.’ There’s no sensitivity. For a fact too, I know he knows I adore him. I do. I love the guy. We’ve had meetings on movies before that we’re two hours and in those two hours we got fifteen minutes of work in there and then the rest to talk about shit. At that point, having that kind of repartee with the director, some directors need distance from their actors to get the sense that they’re the director. Guillermo del Toro knows he’s the fucking director. So if he cares about somebody he lets you know that he cares about. So you know that anything he tells you is based upon two things. It’s based on his incredible expertise on filmmaking and that’s a big story in itself and his comfort with the friendship within these confines. So as an actor it’s really like the best environment. He’s an amazing director to work with.
Speaking of environments, the sets on this movie are unbelievable.
How does that help with your job? Does it cross the line ever with some of these sets that you’re not even acting anymore because it’s like you’re there?
It sounds corny and pretentious, but I did a lot theater and so you’re never not there. You’re always there, I hope. Sometimes you have a technical issue and you know this shot is a technical shot and you have to deliver it in it’s confines. I’m not a big fan of doing those all day, but sometimes you have to deliver that.
I would imagine that you have to do that on a film like this.
Yeah, you have to. You have to know what’s cinematic. You’ve got to know what’s cool. You’ve got to try and keep the truth in line. I was asked by an English journalist once about ‘Blade II’, ‘Do you not think that you took the role of Nomak too seriously?’ I was a little floored. I was like, ‘Maybe you should ask the three hundred million fans in the world of the genre, not me, but of the genre that question. Another question, if I was playing Shakespeare or Chekhov would you ask me that fucking question?’ So the truth is that when you do theater and you’re in role you’re selling yourself very short if you’re not right in the moment all the time. Those sets certainly don’t hurt thought, but the great thing primarily about del Toro is that he plays scenes as close as we are and your peripheral and your environment is just magnificent. So that’s your kind of accessory into something as crazy as the sets we have. The scenes are pretty much set. When you see the end of this movie you’ll see that it’s exactly that. It’s this magnificent set. I don’t know if you saw the Golden Army Chamber or not. It’s as big as the entire floor of a casino in Las Vegas and it’s five, six, seven stories high. It’s monstrous. There’s going to be huge robots the size of two cars each and there’s like fifty thousand of them. There’s this scene where Ron [Perlman] and I are this close, nose to nose, and it’s great.
What’s the biggest challenge in a movie like this? Is it the scene where you’re acting against fifty thousand robots that aren’t there or is it the sort of more intimate scenes? What’s the bigger challenge?
I think the challenge is consistency and being consistent all the time with everything. The thing is that Guillermo has expectations. If you’re on his set there’s expectations and the challenge is constant really. Again, it’s the theater thing where you’ve done some theater and you’ve got the audience there, there are no sets. So if that was the moment that you were flawed you’d be fucked as an actor. You’d be done.
Some actors talk about how hard it is to act in front of a green screen, but it seems to me that if you’re done theater it’s kind of similar.
If I flirt with a scene that’s emotional and I’m going through my head and I can’t let it out too much because I don’t want to shoot my load it’s like I’m still equally either pained or encouraged by my thought as I am when I’m in the scene because my mind at that point is like, ‘Okay, are we on?’ So then it’s all real at that point. So green screen or any of that stuff, no.
But technically when you have to hit a mark because of FX later on or something is it tough to maintain that take after take after take?
Yeah, it’s tough.
How do you get through that?
You remind yourself of what you’re doing and remind yourself who you’re working with. You remind yourself about the expectations, rightfully so, from the audience, that they’re going to have. You say, ‘Enough already you spoiled brat.’ That’s it.
Had you seen the first film before you knew you were going to do this?
To be honest with you I’m the big unofficial fan club leader of Guillermo del Toro. So when the film came out I was shooting ‘The Man’ with Samuel Jackson and Eugene Levy when the film came out, the last one, and my wife and I went straight to the movie theater and we saw a midnight showing the opening night. It was a midnight showing of ‘Hellboy’ because that’s family. When he was at the Academy Awards, and I live in Los Angeles right now, and we had an Oscar party as people do and people outside of that are probably going to think, ‘What a wanker?!’ But you know, it’s not a big deal is it? It’s like some drink and some food, an Oscar party at the house. I saw Guillermo and you can’t help, but love the guy. It warms your heart. You’re like, ‘This guy single handedly telling all these pretentious journalists out there – ‘ present company certainly excluded, but the others ones out there who think genre is no good and it feel like, ‘Man, you just made him wake up.’ The little girl in that movie, for example, I don’t care what anyone says, that performance floored me as an actor. I feel like, ‘I hope I can achieve that level of excellence one day.’ And she’s like, what? Two. No, but you know what I mean. I was inspired by it. It’s the same with ‘Devil’s Backbone’. He integrates truth and horror and fear and shadows. He knows how to manipulate a shadow like anyone, like nobody else.
This is a long shoot. How long have you been here?
And how long are you going to be here?
I’m the last scene. I shoot the last scene.
So you’re here through the middle of November?
I was here before anyone fight training. I did two weeks fight training in Los Angeles and I did seven weeks here, I think, and so I started at pretty much the beginning and have been shooting all the way through. I had a big seven week straight where they estimated that I’d have maybe twenty six applications of makeup and I’ve already done thirty eight or thirty nine applications. It’s been a long, fucking long shoot. I think I’m here until the middle of November. I literally just lost a movie yesterday because I can’t do it now because I’m here.
Just an MGM picture.
Is that frustrating?
It’s frustrating. As Ron put it when we were rapping about it yesterday, people don’t know how hard movies are to come by, certainly ones that you want to make. I’m just at the point in my career now where I’m finally – literally, I would say, today – getting to a point where I would have some creative choices. I’ve tried to make the best choices I’ve been able to with the ones I’ve done before. Primarily, the choices are the things that you have to do to get my career to a point and it’s only now where I can say that I have some cool shit coming up.
And it’s a tough time because the strike is going to happen, right?
It is, but I can’t lose too much sleep about it. I have to look at the creative side of it. I certainly don’t want to waste that wonderful day where finally people are asking to send you scripts. I’ve been getting scripts for a while now, but not really scripts that I’ve been jumping up and down about. There’s one where I play a warrior king and shoots in Morocco and Egypt and all the internal sets are on sound stage in L.A. It’s an out and out lead and it’s sixty plus million dollars. It’s the lead role and that’s a role that I’m very excited about doing. That’s going to be before the strike.
So you see your future as doing leads?
For me to say that I sound like a complete you know. Listen, of course. I played leads like in ‘One Night With The King’ and in other movies I’ve done like ‘Charlie’ which was a gangster flick. I’ve done the lead in a couple of movies and they’ve gone away. I’m not thinking, ‘Shit, man, I’m aiming too high here.’ I think that I should at least try to achieve those things. If people see me in those roles I’m not going to be stranger. I like playing heroes as long – what I always try to avoid is that pompous kind of Englishman set within a confine of history that is etiquette based because then it’s about etiquette and ‘jolly splendid’ and redcoats and all of that stuff. Playing a King in the 14th century where it’s about nobility and honor, honor among men is something that’s timeless to me and that’s the kind of role I’d love to play. Anti-heroes are roles that I’m not as interested in.
Before you came here is there anything that you wrapped that’s coming out soon?
There’s a movie that I made with Lance Henriksen. I play the lead in this movie called ‘Bone Dry’ with a director called Brett Hart. Of all the things I’ve done – challenging is not the word for it. It was shot in the desert in the Mojave and Nevada, Arizona deserts in the summer. Death Valley was like a hundred and forty degrees plus. That’s a psychological thriller, but it’s a psychological thriller in the sense of like ‘Capricorn One’ or these movies that are based on character and not story. That’s a movie that’s coming out. It’s finished and done and it’s in post right now. That’ll be coming out. That’s a movie that I’m really, really proud of. I think that people are going to dig that movie. It’s a thinking man’s movie for sure. It’s a psychological thriller based purely on character. It’s deep like ‘The Proposition’. People who liked that movie are going to love this one. There are only two characters in this film really.
How was it working with Lance?
He’s fucking great, man. He’s great and talks like this, motherfucker [doing impersonation]. ‘Hey, Luke. What the fuck is going on. I haven’t heard from you for like twenty years.’ I sound okay on film and then I hear Lance and I’m like, ‘I sound like a pussy.’ [laughs]