I want to make sure I don’t downplay how amazing it was that all of the major cast members from Hellboy II: The Golden Army came to talk to Kelvin and I in a Budapest hotel bar one night long after their shooting day was over. These folks had been in Hungary for months, working twelve hours a day, six days a week, trying to create Guillermo del Toro’s huge, epic vision on a relatively small budget. The footage that we’ve seen so far proves that the effort and sacrifice was worth it.
One of the exhausted troupers who came down to spend time with us was Anna Walton, a new face in the Hellboy movie universe. She plays Princess Nuala, the twin sister of baddie Nuada (played by Luke Goss), and she represents the other side of the world of myth and magic. She also gives fans something they’ve really wanted – a love interest for the beloved Abe Sapien.
What appealed to you about doing the sequel and had you seen the first one?
Yes. I hadn’t actually seen it until after I finished the last film I did, ‘The Mutant Chronicles’, and Ron Perlman was in that with me. He kept saying to me that I must see ‘Hellboy’ and so that’s how I got around to seeing it. To be honest I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I was going to think of it and I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. It really just sort of defied everything that I normally think about as being sort of being big blockbuster films, action type things because it had real depth to it. All of the characters, you felt for them and so often now I sort of feel like you don’t really care about the characters.
Can you walk us through who the Princess is in this, because you’re a new character?
Yes. I’m Princess Nuala. Obviously I have a twin brother, Luke [Goss], and we come from the sort of fantasy world and the Elf world. There was a truce made hundreds of years ago between mankind and our world and the story happens at the beginning that my brother, my twin decides that because of the humans and because of their greed and how they’re taking over the world and because they’re not respecting the truce, he decides to go in and try and take over and fight them and regain what he feels is our right to the world. That’s all about nature and that’s really what appealed to me most because I feel like it’s quite a modern problem with our environmental problems and stuff, how all the sort of cities and everything are becoming so overcrowded. It’s a very modern day problem, but back to the story we have a crown and I have a piece of it and mankind has a piece of it. Basically he’s decided that he wants regain our power. This would mean bringing back The Golden Army. That’s kind of the key point. I know that bringing back The Golden Army will cause massive sort of destruction and death and I want to do everything that I can to try and stop that. It’s a very difficult situation because he’s my brother so I’m sort of fight against the love that I have for my brother, but also the fact that I know it’s not right what he’s doing.
We were at the Troll Market and you’ve got some scenes down there. It’s not like being on a movie set, but like you’ve gone to a Troll Market. How does that sort of work for you as an actress? Is there a point where you don’t feel like you’re working anymore, that you’re just there?
Absolutely. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing place to be because all you have to do is just look around you and you’re in another world. When you’re acting as a fantasy character you can imagine that it’s quite hard in a way because you don’t have anything to draw from because that’s not who you are. But as soon as you’re on the set and you look around and there are all these creatures and just the environment like you’ve seen you are in another world. It’s the most incredible thing.
You said that ‘Hellboy’ wasn’t the kind of movie you wouldn’t have been interested in.
That I hadn’t been drawn too initially, yeah, in my past.
So how do you find the character of an immortal Princess Elf? How do you get there?
Well, I just treat it very real. For me she’s absolutely something that I can relate to, absolutely, just as a real person. The divide that you feel between knowing what’s right and what you should do, but also the fact that you’re also having to turn against your own brother who’s the other half of you. They’re ying and yang. They’re almost the same being. She has to physically tear herself away from him to pursue what she knows she must do in the memory of her father and because of her whole kingdom. She has the responsibility of the whole race really. I think the way you can relate to that as an actor is just by drawing on various experiences when you feel like you’ve been torn between two things. I never found it very hard to kind of find that, and also because of how important our environment is. That’s what I focused on and the greed of humankind and how power is so destructive. That’s very contemporary, isn’t it? How power is destructive. I felt very strongly about that and so that was very easy to feel passionate about.
So you worked with Ron on ‘Mutant Chronicles’. Is that how you ended up getting involved with this?
No. The casting director cast me in ‘Mutant Chronicles’ and so after I finished that he sent me the script for ‘Hellboy 2′. So with that and Ron saying that I must watch ‘Hellboy’ I was really, really incredibly impressed. I really loved the script for the sequel and really loved the part of Princess Nuala and then I got pregnant and the casting director knew that I was pregnant and I think he thought, ‘Okay, well she’s a write off.’ I was like, ‘Nope. I’m going to do this. It doesn’t matter that I’m pregnant.’ Just because you have a baby, I think, didn’t make any difference and I believe that if anything it gives you more to draw from as an actor because your feelings are even more intense. It’s such a visceral thing and everything is magnified a thousand times. So I was determined not to let it stop me. So I just pursued it and I was emailing Ron and finding out when Guillermo was here and I was knocking on the door of the casting director and I managed to get a meeting with Guillermo when he was in London and did a normal audition, a screen test. Guillermo is wonderful because he didn’t even remotely let it bother him that I came in with a massive bump. It wasn’t important to him. I tried to dress cleverly, but he’s a family a man and he knows how important family is. To be honest it’s also part of the story as well. It’s fundamental with ‘Hellboy’. It’s nature or nurture. Hellboy is obviously from hell, but because of the way that he’s been brought up and nurtured – and so again that’s something that’s obviously important to Guillermo and to me as well. Maybe he thought that I’d be able to have something to offer in that respect, going through the pregnancy and motherhood.
All of these guys have worked with Guillermo before, but this is your first time. What’s that been like for you?
Wonderful. It’s really wonderful. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ was obviously another thing that got me incredibly excited. I just thought that this man was a genius. The imagination on him is quite extraordinary. I think his brain has a capacity that just really isn’t normal in most people. When I see him directing, when he comes on to the set and is directing the scenes you can see that everything – it sounds obvious – is visual. It’s totally about being in the moment and what he sees in his head and then it’s about creating what he sees in his head and that’s how he goes step by step. So it’s real and so present and so spontaneous which is a lovely and exciting way to work because it’s not cerebral at all. It’s very, very much from his heart which is really lovely, a lovely way to work. You get driven by his passion.
Now did you do ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ here?
No. We did it in London and on The Isle of Man which is very strange.
I was going to say you’ve spent a lot of time in Hungary, but you haven’t.
[laughs] Well, now I have.
Who do you play in ‘Mutant Chronicles’?
I play Severian who’s very real. She’s not a fantasy character, but she’s a monk. Ron is also a monk and we come and basically there’s a squad of people who are brought together during post nuclear times. I can’t remember what century it is, a long way ahead. I’m very much into ‘Hellboy’ at the moment. So we have a squad that goes and fights against the mutants to try and bring back the world.
Do you do action in that?
Yes, I do. Not in this. I’m itching. I’m watching all the stunts and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m a Princess and I’m very sweet.’ But I really want to do the stunts. In ‘The Mutant Chronicles’ I did sword fighting and stunts. I did all my own stuff. This time the thing is that she doesn’t really have a chance to fight because it’s not important. The most important thing is that she has what her brother needs to reclaim the crown and to bring back the Golden Army. So she’s doing anything that she can to stop that from happening. She has the third piece of the crown and the cylinder that has the map of where the Golden Army is. So she’s not going to hang around and fight anyone or risk it. It’s not about her or it’s not about her life. It’s totally one hundred percent about stopping the Golden Army from being again. That’s why she doesn’t have time to fight. It’s all about getting away.
You guys are here on such a long shoot. So what’s the sort of dynamic between the actors here?
It’s great. It’s lovely. It’s a very intimate shoot because it’s very long hours and it’s very intense and everyone gets on very well. It’s really, really nice. Everyone is very generous. Everyone has had a lot of time for everyone else. So it’s very enjoyable.
Are you to the very end in November?
Do you have anything lined up for after that, or is the strike something you’re concerned about? Are you trying to get something in before all of Hollywood stops?
Well, of course you know what it’s like for an actor. You sort of always want to have something else that you’re moving into and there are things that are being talked about at the moment, but nothing I know about for sure so I can’t really say anything. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my son, but I’m very keen to be working again. I’m looking forward to going to Los Angeles which I haven’t really done yet. It’s a really exciting time and at the moment I’m just very focused on what I’m doing here. This is a wonderful thing to be a part of. I’m sorry about my brain being so scrambled. We’ve had a really intense days in the Troll Market. We’ve been deprived of oxygen down there.
I was down there and you can really feel it down there.
Then I felt like I can’t believe that the crew are down there nonstop.
And the people in the monster suits too.
Exactly, I know. Brian Steele and Doug Jones. As Jeffrey Tambor would say, ‘Whenever you feel like complaining just say Doug Jones.’ Doug Jones never complains so how can I possibly complain.