SANTA MONICA, California — Just three years ago, Doug Jones was a virtually invisible veteran of more than 30 movies and TV shows, Guillermo del Toro a little-known Mexican director, and the red-hued character of Hellboy stuck in a rut of C-level superhero obscurity.
Since then, things have been far from hellish.
Jones is thrilled that the success he and del Toro have enjoyed with multiple-Oscar-nominee “Pan’s Labyrinth” (see “Scariest Film Of The Year? ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Director Spills His Guts” and ” ‘Dreamgirls’ Leads Oscar Noms — Without Best Picture Or Beyonce” ) has allowed them to start production on a “Hellboy” sequel they’ll finally get to make their way.
Offering up some revealing plot points about “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” the scarecrow-like physical presence behind “Labyrinth” characters Pan and the Pale Man — as well as the Silver Surfer in this summer’s “Fantastic Four” sequel (see “Alba Breaks Car, But There’s A Silver Lining On ‘Fantastic’ Sequel Set” ) — spoke about playing multiple characters, realizing del Toro’s newfound creative freedom and finally getting his voice back.
“When I first took the role of Abe Sapien,” Jones remembered of 2004, when his chameleon-like physicality landed him the role of Hellboy’s merman-esque associate, “it was with the understanding that they might do a celebrity voiceover-type thing, because I was not a celebrity at that point.”
As the tale of the Nazi-battling demon was being filmed, Jones delivered lines alongside Hollywood stars Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and John Hurt. But much like down-on-their-luck talents including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harvey Keitel, Jones would eventually find his voice being dubbed over by someone else.
“They were thinking about Kevin Spacey and Steve Buscemi and then David Hyde Pierce, who ended up doing the voice,” Jones recalled, adding that he holds no ill will toward the “Frasier” co-star. “Now I am really excited to have the voice back.”
Although he is seen by many as another “virtual actor” defining the CGI age, Jones considers himself and “Lord of the Rings” star Andy Serkis (see “Andy Serkis: Hollywood’s Unrecognizable Blockbuster Star” ) as full-on actors first and foremost. As such, he’s been appreciative of recent efforts by the “Hellboy” gatekeepers to make Abe Sapien his, following a stunning double-performance in “Labyrinth” (including dialogue) that put him on the map.
“When the [TV/DVD] animated features came up — ‘Hellboy: Sword of Storms’ and ‘Hellboy: Blood and Iron’ — they just came to me and offered it to me, and I was just tickled out of my mind,” Jones recalled. “With ‘Hellboy II,’ the live-action movie, I have been told I will be doing the voice in that as well. So it’s all mine now. … I’m glad to have the baby all back in one piece in my arms.”
The film will begin shooting soon, now that red-hot “Labyrinth” director del Toro decided to revisit his ’04 flick. Del Toro described his vision to MTV News as “a bigger story than the first one. It is actually a larger scope. … Everyday reality is grinding fantasy into the ground. … Hellboy has always fought on the side of humans, but this [destruction of fantasy] pushes his buttons to reconsider.”
Die-hard fans of the original “Hellboy” will undoubtedly be excited by the next revelation Jones was eager to discuss: “I’m very excited that with Abe Sapien, you’ll get to see much more of him and you’ll get to know him better,” he smiled. “You’ll see him have more buddy time with Hellboy, you’ll see him wielding a weapon, you’ll see him having more hands-on time with the bad guys — and you might even see him have a love interest.
“But I’m not just playing Abe Sapien in this second film — I’m doing three other smaller characters that are otherworldly and heavily made-up beyond recognition,” Jones revealed. “My favorite one is called the Angel of Death — it’s another eyeless thing [like Pale Man] with huge wings, and he’s got a weird little ribcage. He’s beautiful. I’m going into my fittings this week.”
Of another character he’ll play, Jones said: “There’s a befuddled wizard that I’ll be playing; he’s the closest to human.” Explaining the character further, he moved his hands all over his lengthy face and added: “He’s this old-looking, saggy-skinned, weird-eared sort of fella that I’ll be showing up as. … I’m not sure if there’s dialogue for him yet. He was a recent addition.
“The other one, his name is the Chamberlain, and I don’t know what his exact story line is yet, but it’s another crazy suit,” Jones continued, raising his hand as far over his head as he could. “His head is way up here, and he’s very, very cylindrical in shape with these arms that just hang down to the side.”
Jones and del Toro are fully aware that they’ve never had more clout in this town than they do now — and these longtime collaborators plan to finally make the “imagination unleashed” blockbuster that studios have been afraid to make. “I loved being in ‘Hellboy,’ ” Jones said. “But let me tell you what Guillermo del Toro told me before I saw the script: He said, ‘I don’t want to show you the script yet. … If I show you the script and we don’t get to make it, it’s gonna be the biggest disappointment of your life.’ ”
Universal Pictures stepped up, recognizing that del Toro, Jones and the Hellboy name were forces to be reckoned with. “True enough, after reading the script, I was like, ‘I can’t wait to do this movie.’ It would have been horrific had we not been able to do it.”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” begins filming in May, and is eyeballing a summer 2008 release.
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