The Canadian premiere of the new Neil Marshall rendition of Hellboy in Toronto came with a pair of special guests. Stars David Harbour and Milla Jovovich were in town to promote the film, and after the screening took part in a bit of a Q&A with the hundreds of fans in attendance for the Scotiabank Theatre. Here are some of the takeaways.
It’s Not Easy Having a Tail
One of the things Harbour had to come to terms with playing Hellboy was walking around with a tail. “The thing about having a tail you don’t realize is that it’s very hard to sit in a chair with a back, it really is,” the Hellboy actor said. “I have a lot of respect for dogs now.”
The crew painted a special red-coloured apple box that would be Harbour’s throne between takes. “I remember bringing you the crate a few times because they weren’t quick enough on set,” Jovovich recalled.
“You were very mothering to me, it was nice,” Harbour added.
Creature Effects Gone Wild
A question about the actors’ favourite scenes in the movie yielded some insight into the creature effects on set. “That’s easy for me, in the Baba Yaga scene I get a big old kiss,” Harbour said of his favourite scene, but then he made it a chance to praise Baba Yaga’s portrayer, real-life contortionist Troy James. “His legs are CGI [in the film], but the movement is real. He was able to do things with his body that no living human being should be able to do,” Harbour said admiringly.
For Jovovich, the most memorable point of making Hellboy was working with Doug Tait, who played the hog-like creature Gruagach, a henchman to Jovovich’s villain the Blood Queen. “His head started smoking at one point in a scene we had together, and he was like, ‘Guys do you smell smoke?’ And everyone was like, ‘No it’s fine,’” Jovovich recalled. “It takes a long time to get him out of that thing because it’s all wires and the face moves,” she added. “Anyway, I made sure they never used that head on Doug ever again. It was literally a disaster. It was on fire.”
One fan asked Jovovich how it felt to play a character very different from her heroine role in Resident Evil, and how it felt to not have to perform a lot of wire work and martial arts. “It was the greatest relief in a certain sense,” Jovovich explained. “I didn’t have to wear 40 pounds of prosthetics like poor David, but I did have to learn to do a British accent, which is quite a challenge on its own.
“I was doing stunt rehearsals for the accent,” she joked.
Harbour was asked about his famous Hellboy summit with original Hellboy portrayer Ron Perlman and comedian/nerd brand ambassador Patton Oswalt, which took place shortly after he was hired for the reboot. “It was great, and talking about Hellboy was just an excuse to meet a great actor and talk about his long, luxurious career,” Harbour said. “I’ve always been a fan of his.”
Any advice from Perlman? Harbour said, “I tend to take stuff very seriously, and I was working on the inner life [of Hellboy] and he was like, ‘Hey kid, just make sure you have some fun.’”
Jovovich, who just finished working on Monster Hunter with Perlman also had praise for the original Hellboy. “That guy’s got more one-liners than any human I’ve ever met,” she said. “He’s the funniest dude ever apart from David Harbour.”
Speaking of Perlman’s Hellboy, Harbour was asked how he tried to make the character his own following in the footsteps of Perlman. “I think it’s different because he’s a little bit of a younger Hellboy […] he’s not yet a Hellman,” Harbour said. “I think we wanted the dynamic with the father to be different than we’ve seen, and Ian [McShare, who play’s Hellboy’s father Professor Broom] is more of a forbidding presence and more about tough love.”
“I haven’t seen the other movies in a long time, and I know there is a struggle with his destiny, but I just wanted that to be grounded in some sort of genetic imperative,” Harbour added. “It’s almost like he wants to be evil in some base desire. He sort of loves and admires the Blood Queen and in the middle of the film he wonders why he’s on the ‘good side’, and maybe he’s wrong about that.”
Night at the Improv
Hellboy is known for his sardonic one-liners, so was all of that in the script, or did Harbour ever get to riff. “There was a lot of play on set,” the actor said. “What we were trying to do was get the spirit of the [Hellboy creator Mike] Mignola comic without actually using a lot of the Mignola lines,” Harbour explained. “So the spirit of Hellboy is that he has these things that come out of either provoking someone, thinking that a situation is stupid, or being embarrassed by a situation. So there was a lot that you didn’t see that was on the cutting room for that I loved.”
Jovovich admitted that there were times where she didn’t know it was Harbour talking, or Hellboy. “There were a few times I didn’t realize that you weren’t just joking with me, and I would literally start laughing and no one else was and we were still rolling,” she said.
Hellboy is now in theatres everywhere. Read my review of Hellboy, and sound off with your own opinions with the Nightmare on Film Street community over on Twitter, Reddit, and the Fiend Club Facebook Group!