If you're old-school, you remember him as James Earl Jones, getting his head tossed down a flight of stairs at the end of "Conan the Barbarian." If you're really old-school, you remember him as a necromancer who first appeared in "King Kull" in the 1930's, tormenting such warriors as Kull of Atlantis and Conan the Barbarian. If you're new-school, well, you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.
"I have a comic book that I've optioned that we're developing called 'Thulsa Doom,'" Hounsou told us recently about the upcoming film that he'll star in and produce. "Thulsa Doom was one of the characters that came out of the comic book 'Conan the Barbarian.' It's a Robert E. Howard comic book."
It sounds as though the new Doom will be closer to the James Earl Jones-version (believed to be based on the Howard character Thoth-Amon) than the comic book character with the skull-like face that reportedly inspired He-Man's Skeletor. Asked if Doom will still have the Eighties-character's snake motif in the movie, Hounsou revealed: "Absolutely, absolutely. It's crazy stuff, yeah…I'm not quite [training with snakes yet], because we're some ways away from production."
Still, separating himself from the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Hounsou had a simple answer when asked if the character of Conan would appear in his movie: "No."
The "Thulsa Doom" movie intends to trace the villain back to his more well-intentioned early days, and Hounsou sees the character as being complex enough for several movies.
"I'd love to [make it a franchise]," he said of sequels. "Obviously, I think it's an amazing world, because in the fantasy world you can pretty much create anything you want. You have an unlimited resource of ideas when they're doing anything that visual. So, I'm really looking forward to the experience."
Hounsou, who has also starred in such instant classics as "Gladiator" and "In America," added that he'll soon begin appearing on the printed page as Doom, when Dynamite Entertainment begins publishing a re-vamped "Thulsa Doom" comic next year.
But as he develops the "Doom" film, he's been keeping his options open by plucking from the comics, movie, and anything else that comes to mind. "Yeah, I do [re-cycle] a little bit of that [old stuff], but again you have to find your thing and stay with that thing no matter what," he insisted. "All the themes have been developed, all the themes have been touched in one way or another. So, you just stay with your story."
Would you rather see a snake-based Thulsa Doom, or a skull-faced one? And how do you feel about the decision to exclude Conan from the movie?