Interview: Hellboy's Doug Jones On Going Steampunk For Felicia Day's The Guild

Quick, name three defining features of Doug Jones face! Chances are, unless you’ve met the actor in person… You can’t. He’s disappeared under loads of make-up Hellboy’s Abe Sapien, Fauno in Pan’s Labyrinth, and even as a Gay Robot on Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time. So it’s a bit of a relief to see Jones in Felicia Day’s The Guild as a steampunk cosplayer at a gaming convention. Sure, he’s got a big old mustache… But you can see almost three quarters of his face! Exciting!

During a brief off time from the series, we chatted with Jones about how he got hooked up with Day, what’s coming up with his steampunker, and whether anyone will be chasing him with old timey faux brass laser guns the next time he shows his (real) face at a Con:

MTV Geek: Hi Doug! Talk a little bit about how you ended up on The Guild

Doug Jones: Let me just start by saying: god bless Felicia Day. We met at a Comic Con after-party in 2010, started following each other on Twitter, then one day a private message showed up with Felicia asking me where to send a script. This was for her other web series coming this Fall, DRAGON AGE: REDEMPTION. I had the pleasure of playing the evil Saarabus, a Qunari Mage in full prosthetic make-up.

Then a month later we were cast together in a sci-fi comedy feature called ROCK JOCKS, in which I play an alien named Smoking Jesus, in full rubber make-up. It was during this production that Felicia complimented me with the idea of playing a person, yes a human, in season 5 of THE GUILD. We work together very well, and her humbling comments about my acting and how she wanted to show my real face were beyond sweet.

Geek: I read somewhere that you were a Guild fan before you got the part… Are you a gamer?

DJ: The gaming world is a complete mystery to me!! Well, I did play Pac Man and Frogger, using big machines at an arcade back in the 80's. The other mystery for an old, non-techo savvyed fart like me was the world of web-series, until I started working in them with Crackle.com's ANGEL OF DEATH a few years ago.

I had heard so much about THE GUILD from many people, and finally did that little search on the web to catch up on the seasons I'd missed. Instant love. Felicia is so charming, and her writing is intelligently yummy, whether I was familiar with gaming or not. The rest of the cast also drew me in with their character's hilarious personality flaws and spot-on timing.

Geek: Your part is as a pretty intense steampunk cosplayer… Were you familiar with steampunk before this?

DJ: I was familiar, yes! And I LOVE steampunk! I've been appearing in the convention circuit for just long enough now that many trends have paraded past me, and steampunk is one that not only caught my eye, but also caught my imagination. I've often said that I think I was born in the wrong era, and here is a sub-culture who all feel the same. I'm also grateful that this style wraps itself around my tall, skinny frame with such ease. That, coupled with all the Jules Verne, H.G. Wells type of futuristic gadgetry, and I'm totally sold on it.

Geek: You guys are pretty heavily skewering the steampunk scene in this. Are you worried the next time you’re at a con, people might chase you around with leather bats and contraptions full of cogs?

DJ: Ooh, I love a good chase scene! But I like to think we are celebrating steampunk with our portrayal here, nothing negative. The steampunkers I know are all people of class and style who long for those genteel days of old. When Maurissa Tancharoen, Jillian Armenante, and I all got into costume, all three of us were walking differently, with better posture, and a confidence that brought on these personas. Of course we pushed it a little further to find the funny, but this is a funny show that makes light of everyone.

Geek: Though you are wearing a ridiculous mustache, this is, I think, the least amount of costume I’ve ever seen you in… Was it a relief to do something where you’re not in a make-up chair for thirteen hours?

DJ: By golly, yes. It's always nice when I can walk myself up to the snack table on the set and feed myself, unlike the nursing home patient I become in my monster make-ups. I actually love both. I do love the wide variety of other-worldly creatures I've been able to play, wearing stunning designs and working with the best make-up artists in the world. But when playing a human, it is also lovely to come in to work when everyone else does, instead of 7 hours earlier to start make-up.

There's also that vulnerable thing, though. I have such freedom when I'm living through a mask, and by contrast, can feel very exposed when a camera is capturing my real face. Kind of like the difference between walking out your front door in a sweater and jeans or in a Speedo. But I've learned that Speedos get an unfair bad rap.

Geek: Ha! Okay, talk about the process of working on The Guild; what’s a typical day like?

DJ: The days play out much like they would on any bigger budget network TV show, actually. The difference here is that this is the little show that could. And it has. There is an excited vibe behind the scenes on this show that I haven't felt on others. Everyone involved is humble and grateful for the mind-boggling success this show has become.

So that trickles down to the off-camera moments where everyone will lounge around together, bonding, telling stories, sharing funny videos on YouTube, and laughing.... always laughing. Working a 10-hour day didn't feel like work at all. I got to play with all these new friends. And that included the background extras -- a large force of fans who travel from far and wide to volunteer their time and energy, filling out the look of this show. It's rare to see this many people, all so excited to be coming to work.

Geek: Is there any room for improvisation? It seems pretty heavily scripted, but you never know…

DJ: When the writing is this good, you don't need to leave the page much. But the nice thing about writer Felicia Day and our director, Sean Becker, is that they fully embrace that collaboration where comedy thrives. So in a scripted moment, something may breathe out of it that we didn't expect, and everyone laughs, so it stays in. For me, it often comes out physically. Like in episode 7 when my Gerald character is explaining to Clara about the "posseure fields". My hands naturally found a pose to accentuate this, then Jillian and Maurissa struck their own poses. This bit makes me laugh every time I re-play it.

Geek: You mostly worked with Robin Thorsen on the shoot, what was that like?

DJ: If I was single, and twenty years younger, I would be camping on her front doorstep right now. Robin is such a charming, natural comedic talent who has created her own niche in Hollywood Land. She's as gorgeous and funny as a person can get, and she can play ditzy better than most! Robin and I shared one of those rare moments on a film set where we couldn't get through this one scene without laughing. Take after take, we went from giggles to full-on tears streaming down our faces. In our business, that will bond people forever. I just adore my Robin Thorsen.

Geek: The last episode I saw seemed to wrap up your storyline… Are we going to see you back at all?

DJ: Wellllllll ..... It may LOOK like we're all wrapped up .... But .... I think you'll just need to keep watching the show into October. I'm just sayin'.

Geek: Will do, sir! Just to wrap up, other than The Guild, what else is coming up for you?

DJ: Ooh! So nice of you to ask, because there's a lot coming -- Keep your eyes peeled for my blue-faced, horn-headed character in Felicia Day's DRAGON AGE: REDEMPTION web-series coming yet this Fall. You can also find me in another game-related web-series called FALLOUT: NUKA BREAK, starring Zack Finfrock, now running on YouTube with my episodes coming in just a couple of weeks. I'm also very excited that my French movie, GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE is finally getting it's U.S. release, moving slowly across the country from now through November 2011. I play French iconic singer Serge Gainsbourg's alter-ego, wearing a crazy make-up created by DDT Efectos Especiales who brought you my characters in PAN'S LABYRINTH.

Then in December, my very silly, but beautifully photographed coffee table book comes to bookstores, MIME VERY OWN BOOK, making fun of all pop culture, famous works of art, famous movie posters, historic photos, social commentary, and of course mimes. I started as a mime many years ago, so re-joining my beginnings with all this "punny" humor was nothing short of magical for me. Things you'll see in the book: "A mime is a terrible thing to waste," "Once upon a Mime," "Venus DeMimelo", "The Little MerMime," "MimeHammed Ali," and on and on. It's available for pre-order now at Amazon.com.

I also have a bunch of feature films finished that haven't been released yet, including ROCK JOCKS with Felicia Day, JOHN DIES AT THE END with Paul Giamatti, END OF THE ROAD with Michael Dorn, INNOCENCE BLOOD with C.S. Lee, and I just wrapped Andrew Kightlinger's delicious, post-apocalyptic DUST OF WAR with Tony Todd. My next gig is a big 20th Century Fox comedy feature that I just signed with this week, so the announcement hasn't been officially made yet. For this and other Dougie news, my official website has it all.

You can check out Doug – and The Guild – at http://www.watchtheguild.com. Season, 5 Episode 8 “Social Traumas” will air on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 12:01 AM PT / 3:01AM ET.

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