You may not yet know the name Doug Jones, but you’ve definitely enjoyed his work. With an unmistakable silhouette, the svelte Jones stands just over 6 foot three inches tall, his malleable figure able to shape-shift into a host of bizarre characters. He is the chameleon of the character actors, never looking the same twice (except for returning as Abe Sapien in Hellboy II: The Golden Army).
Jones started out in smaller TV work – The Contortionist in an episode of Tales From the Crypt, The Gentleman in the infamous “Hush” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But the most important part of Jones’ career was a small part in a young Mexican director's first film, Mimic. Although that part as Long John # 2 may be long forgotten, his relationship with Mimic director Guillermo del Toro has continued, elevating both men to emerge as two of the most successful members of their particular fields.
Del Toro has gone on to direct the second Blade film, Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy series. Meanwhile, Jones has worked with the director three more times – as Abe Sapien in 2004’s Hellboy, as The Fawn in 2006’s highly acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth and now a return to the Abe Sapien character in the upcoming Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Technically, you could count the latest Hellboy as three more times working with del Toro since he plays three characters in the film, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Seperate from the del Toro camp, Jones also received acclaim for a little part you may have heard of as The Silver Surfer in 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
reelz.com was invited to the Southern California home of Mr. Jones this week to discuss his career, his upcoming projects and the subject of today’s part one of our interview – the details of Abe Sapien’s journey in Hellboy II.
Jones only recently returned from the Budapest set of Hellboy II, stopping off in Columbus, Ohio along the way to attend a fan convention. He’s been home for just two and a half weeks, yet he is still enthusiastic to discuss his adventures. “I’m still kind of reeling from the experience… After being gone for two months [it’s] kind of like. ‘Where am I, who am I, what am I?’ (Laughs)
“But I hit the ground running too. I’ve been really busy… It was the most exhausting movie shoot I have ever been on in my life – a schedule that just hammered and hammered me. And Guillermo del Toro knows that he did this to us. He knows... (Laughs) He was very appreciative though. Six day work weeks, eighteen hour days, four hours of sleep at night… In that six month time, we were filming for 128 days. Of [that], I was working 108 days. That’s very little time off. Usually you have about half the shoot off because they are doing scenes that you’re not in and blah, blah, blah… As a team, Hellboy, Liz and Abe Sapien are all together a lot of the time this time. We go places together, so even if the team is about Hellboy having a fight, Liz and I are [off to the side] the entire time…”
The role of Abe Sapien moves from the background in the first film to the forefront in part 2. Jones tells us that Sapien shares the screen with counterparts Hellboy and Liz Sherman in nearly every scene. The other big change for the character and Doug personally is that Jones’ actual voice will be heard as the amphibious Mr. Sapien. The studio made the decision during post-production of the first film to replace Jones’ voice with that of David Hyde Pierce, but now Jones will be both seen and heard in Hellboy II.
“In the first Hellboy, you got to know him pretty well, but he was kind of a one-note character. He was the intelligent guy, he was kind of a sidekick, a member of the team. He could read four books at one time, he was a clairvoyant. It was a nice setup. In this movie, you get to know Abe on so many more levels. You will be laughing for Abe, crying for Abe, you’ll be routing him on… You’ll see so much.”
Abe also gets the chance to explore some new aspects of his character’s life. In addition to the usual brain-related activities, he also gets the chance to find love. “And that love interest is a great little side story,” Jones tells us with beaming enthusiasm. “[Abe] has never been in love before, so he’s having that sort of puppy love, adolescent kind of thing going on. Remember back to your teenage years when you were struck by somebody for the first time and how stupid that made you? You were thinking more emotionally instead of intellectually. Abe’s a very intellectual being and he’s now discovering emotions for the first time. It’s making him silly. So you’ll get to see what happens with him and how that affects his decision-making abilities and his [life] with the BPRD.”
“Princess Nuala is played beautifully by a young actress [named] Anna Walton. She’s from Great Britain – tall, supermodel-looking with a beauty unto herself. She’s not cookie-cutter model-looking… The thing that makes her so lovely and you get so lost in looking at her is that she’s intelligent and deep and she can feel things as a person and she really takes that onto the screen with her. She really embraced Princess Nuala as a character.”
Besides just playing Abe Sapien, Doug Jones also portrays two additional characters in Hellboy II. “[I play] The Chamberlain, which is this doorkeeper, servant, weird-looking fellow who is a man servant to the king of the Elvin Underworld - I know, this is getting complicated! But the Elvin Underworld will unfold itself for you when you see the film. That’s where our nemesis comes from, the Prince Nuada (Luke Gross) and Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), his twin sister, is Abe Sapien’s love interest, so you can imagine the complications that will arise from having our bad guy and Abe’s love twins coming from the same family… The Chamberlain is in that world. You’ll meet him briefly.”
“And then the Angel of Death comes along somewhere in the story for a very amazing, goose-bumpy moment in the film… People have always asked me, ‘What’s one role you haven’t played that you would like to?’ and I’ve always said, ‘I would like to play an angel. I’m fascinated with them. I believe that they are very real. That’s why I have one behind me [he motions to a bust of an angel behind him] done by a fantastic artist, Jose Fernandez. Now that I got to play the Angel of Death, that fulfilled that little passion of mine. I had wings and everything. I was ugly in a beautiful sort of ugly way, if that makes sense. It all depends on your view of death. Are you afraid of death or not?
The Angel of Death was referred to with a very specific purpose in mind and she – it’s referred to as ‘she’ in the script, so I’m very androgynous – has not yet been able to fulfill her destiny and her purpose for being. So when you meet her, you’ll get that whole back story. I’m not going to tell you any more than that. It’s just so awesome! And it does beg for reappearance in another Hellboy movie later some time. I think you’ll be seeing the Angel of Death again.
You can also check out part one of our video interviewDoug Jones’ experiences on Hellboy II: The Golden Army below: