Flaming Red: Blair talks "Hellboy II"

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

It was more than four years ago that Mike Mignola's Hellboy was first ported to the big screen, but the cast and crew behind the first film have gotten the band back together to produce the highly anticipated sequel, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army." Rising star Guillermo del Toro, who directed both films, helped save the film franchise from fading away into obscurity after the first film's production company closed up shop by finding it a new home at Universal Studios.

Michigan born Selma Blair's breakout role was as Cecile Caldwell in 1999's "Cruel Intentions," five years before she was cast as one-time B.P.R.D. agent Liz Sherman in 2004's "Hellboy." In the first Hellboy film, Blair's decidedly unstable Liz had herself committed to a psychiatric hospital to shield her friends and loved ones from her uncontrollable pyrokinesis. Liz ultimately returned to the fold and finds herself in a love triangle between herself, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. Agent John Meyers, but by the end of the first film, Liz realized that Hellboy was the one true love of her life and takes the first step towards learning to control her powers. Come "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," Liz is faced with a choice that could have repercussions for the entire world.

CBR News, along with other members of the press, spoke to Selma Blair at a press event last week.

Your character, Liz Sherman, makes a choice in the end of "Hellboy II" to save Hellboy -- basically at the expense of humanity at some point in the future. What was your character's thought process in those few seconds that she had to make that choice? How did your character actually come to say basically, "Screw the world, I want my boyfriend." And would you, Selma Blair, make that same choice in real life?

Yeah, the scene with the Angel of Death is actually my favorite scene, one because the Angel of Death was such an incredibly beautiful creature to work with. I mean, just watching that creature brought tears to my eyes. Guillermo actually had to tell me to stop crying, you know, Liz was stronger than that.

But it's a huge moment. I mean, that's nothing any real person hopefully in this world will ever have that question, that one person would have that much power to ever be really faced with the question of, "Would you save the one person you love at the expense of bringing the Apocalypse to the entire world?" I would hope. But some people would like to think they have that power I'm sure. But it's a staggering question, obviously. Liz couldn't imagine life without Hellboy. I mean, I think she'd give up her own life readily, but not without the love of Red. I mean, it's a very selfish thing that she would do this, obviously. I don't know, she'll deal with the consequences later. I just don't think she could believe it would be real, she just couldn't say goodbye to Hellboy. It's kind of a sickening thought, what will happen in "Hellboy III," what she will suffer, and what will happen to the world.

There's going to be a "Hellboy III"?

God only knows. Guillermo will be very busy with "The Hobbit," but it does set up "Hellboy 3" as a very, very sad piece of material.

What was important for you in trying to do more with this character when you knew that "Hellboy II" was a go?

Liz obviously had taken some control of her power. I mean, she saved the day at the end of "Hellboy" and did embrace Red at the end of that movie. So there was only one way for her to go, which was to move forward and leave her sad sack of a life behind her and become a more functioning, stable woman. So it was interesting to go move forward with Liz and play her differently. I kept wanting to play her as the Liz I knew, it was difficult for me to play her as a more stable girl. The Liz I thought I knew was really so much more hesitant and afraid. But it was great to play her as a more engaged woman in life.

How much have the fire effects changed in four years?

They changed a lot, I was surprised. When I played Liz the first time, I got to choose her fire, and it was blue, and I loved that. And this time I noticed the fire was orange-red, but that Guillermo said, "She's matured, so has her fire, and it's different." I guess they just didn't want to have her engulfed in a big blue flame, it would have looked strange. But yeah, I didn't know that I would really be on fire so much. Which I think is a really cool effect, I thought it looked really beautiful.

How much more confident were you in "Hellboy II" in dealing with the special effects? Presumably, you had to act opposite a lot of green screens and such, and there's a lot more mythical, CGI creatures that you have to confront in this film.

Well, what's so incredible about Guillermo is that you don't have to deal with very much CGI. Just the Golden Army really was the main CGI thing, that was the only thing that wasn't really there. And thank God, because once you create the Golden Army, you're doomed, so thank God that was all in the computer. I'm so lame, I'm embarrassed. The thing about Guillermo that's so wonderful is, these are real monsters that were created. They were puppets, they were there, everything was there, everything in the Troll Market was really there, so you're not acting against someone in a suit, like a green suit, or a tennis ball. The Goblin in the trolley is really there, and the old lady that eats the kitten, that's a real old lady, it was impossible to find! No, but, you know, when she turns into the Troll, that's a real monster, little Troll. And all those things were really done. It was pretty amazing.

You've also performed the voice of Liz in the animated Hellboy films. Do you have a preference between just coming in and doing the voice, or getting all in the makeup and the costuming to do the live action?

I like the live action, I like being with Hellboy. I mean, the animated ones, it's great to come in -- you can be wearing your sweatpants and be a mess and all that fun stuff, but that wasn't Guillermo's "Hellboy," that was a different person. It's fun still being in the Hellboy world and having anything to do with Hellboy, but Guillermo's world is kind of the best one to be in. You get to walk on those sets, that's the fun, because Guillermo really creates it, it's so much larger than anything I could ever imagine.

Tell us about working on a more traditional film after completing two Hellboy movies with Guillermo del Toro.

God, I don't know, Guillermo spoils you so much that everything's going to seem pretty mundane after you walk off a Guillermo del Toro set. How do you then go to sitting in a living room reciting regular lines after you've been on the set of "The Golden Army," or walking through Bethmoora or something.

You've said you want to take a break from location shooting -- does that mean when Guillermo del Toro goes out to New Zealand, we're not going to see you in "The Hobbit" at all?

I daresay I probably won't be in "The Hobbit." I think that's pretty much a boys' game anyhow.

Your hairstyle in "Hellboy II" -- was that your idea?

It actually was Guillermo's idea. I had really, really short hair at the time. I had shaved all my hair off, just for fun. I had really long hair, and I just gave myself a mohawk, as you do sometimes. It looked great, I loved it. I did it for a Vogue photo shoot, and I loved it. So I had this really strange Mohawk that was a little too extreme for Liz, so that was a wig that I was wearing in the movie, and that was Guillermo's idea. And now I basically have the same haircut as I did in the movie. But, yeah, we wanted Liz to have a more mature look than she did in the first one.

Did you like the clothes that she wore?

Yeah, they were really simple. They were really kind of a little bit Japanese action figure-inspired. Really clean and confident and just a really capable looking wardrobe.

Did you have a favorite scene to shoot for "Hellboy II?"

I really loved the Angel of Death one. I loved having Hellboy in my arms like that, kind of a Pieta moment. I thought it was just a really strong visual there. I loved every scene in that movie, I love every time I get to be with Hellboy. He's such an amazing actor, Ron Perlman as Hellboy, that just getting to play with him is such a breeze.

In the tumor baby scene, is there just a puppeteer under the set reaching up and doing that?

No, there's a man in that suit completely, and there's a hand inside the baby, and then there's a lot of controls that are remote. You know, people off in the wings, tons of people off in the wings controlling all these things. But yeah, there's a man sweating profusely inside that tumor-baby man. I love that tumor baby. I don't want one, God, I don't want one of those, but I love it.

Does acting in a movie like "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" remind you of why you became an actress, this whole idea of being immersed in a world of fantasy and make-believe, and working with a tumor baby?

Yeah, this is one of the good ones. This makes me really grateful to get to work with a director like Guillermo, and to be in a film like this, that I hope people are in awe of, and will watch many times and pick out things over and over again that amaze them. I'm just really grateful to be a part of this story.

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