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SAN DIEGO, DAY 1: The 'Hellboy' crew speaks

[Hellboy]Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego Hellboy fans were presented with an opportunity to find out the latest news on the planned movie. Director Guillermo del Toro, star Ron Perlman and creator Mike Mignola sat down with a packed house of hundreds of fans to talk about the film. CBR News is pleased to present an edited transcript of that entertaining and informative panel:

Guillermo del Toro (GDT): Thank you very much for coming today. I want to welcome you for this chance to startcommunication this early. We're two years away from the movie so talk aboutpremature ejaculation. We want to do several things. We wanted to, number one,give you a really bitchin' poster, which I hope you guys got. The other thing wewanted to do is to make that event special. We didn't want to make cheap fuckingkey chains or a fucking post card that you would wipe your ass with. We wantedto give you ---

Ron Perlman (RP): -- Although you're welcome to.

GDT: We wanted to give you something that we, as a geeks, would lust after. We wanted to give you something that I felt was a collectible. So the posters that you have, which we printed2004. That's it. We're not going to reprint it. You're not going to see it onthe back cover of anything. The other thing we wanted to do is to start thedialog with you. I think Hellboy is a property that you guys loveas much as I do, being a fan. I know that we are not a majority. Right now it'sa very elite group of readers...he doesn't have Spawn or Marvel numbers. He'smuch more of a cult kind of comic. Therefore, I know that it's a comic thatdemands more attention...demands to be done with the utmost love and care, andwith the right people.

I want you guys to know twothings. I'm doing this movie only because I'm desperately in love with thecomic, not because I want to change it or make it better. I think that when youknow of something good, you want to build a world around it. You want to , ifpossible, poke your dick into it.

Mike Mignola (MM): Really, you do?

GDT: But in order to poke properly you [need] Mike Mignola.

MM: The poke-ee

GDT: The poke-ee. But I want you guys to know that and I want you to know that Mike has not only been part of everything since the beginning of the process. The moment the movie got green litMike came on board. He will stay through the process so that we can assure, notonly hours of fun crushing him against the wall...but also that the propertygets translated to film correctly. Now I give you to Ron Perlman who will say afew words.

[applause]

RP: Thank you. Thank you. I always wondered what it would be like in the bowels of Hellboy's world. I don't have much to say except that it's a thrill and honor to be the guy that gets to put on the red stuff. I welcome any of your suggestions how we go about that the best way possible but this will be my third --

GDT: -- Listen to that fucking voice though!

RP: This will be my thirdcollaboration with Guillermo. We've done two other films together so he knowsall my bad habits. It'll be interesting hopefully. I look forward to having anamazing time working on what is a magical property and what is a fantasticadaptation thereof, in terms of its genesis to the screen. So I'm thrilled to behere and I'm thrilled to see so many people who support this wonderful idea.

GDT: (takes the chocolate that is on the table) Don't eat the chocolate by the way. You're too fat.

[laughs]

RP: Mike Mignola

MM: How weird is it to be here with these guys. It's taken five years to get here and I gotta say that now that we're here, we're here with all the people we wanted to be here with. The director who wanted to do it. We got the star we agreed on the very first time we spoke. A script which we're thrilled with. We didn't have to make thesegigantic compromises along the way, so far.

GDT: (joking) Hellboy is invisible now.

RP: It's a voice over

MM: He's an eight-inch puppet. For me its just a thrill to be here with these guys It's a hell of a ride.

GDT: Now we're open for questions:

Q: Ron I really liked you inThe Last Supper. This question's for Guillermo but Mike, I really love you'reart. I love your uses of black and white and how colors apply to that and I'mwondering how that's going to translate into film. And what storyline are yougoing to use?

MM: Well Guillermo can handlethe film end of that stuff because I don't know how he does that stuff. Themovie is roughly based on the first mini-series. There are a lot of changes init and there are a lot of elements from other mini-series just kind of tossedin. But the arc of it is roughly the Seeds of Destructions mini-series.

GDT: The conversion of the filmfrom the comics, The thing is the saturation of the black that Mike draws...webasically started experimenting...by the way I want to clarify one thing: Blade2, which I love as a kick-ass vampire movie is not what Hellboy will be. Hellboyis a movie with much deeper characters, and so in. Blade 2 was of a great valueto us because we were given the tools to experiment a lot of great visual quirksthat will be on Hellboy. The depth of black and depth on Blade 2, sometimes 80%of the frame on Blade 2 was very black with saturated colors, and we learned alot. One of the things we learned on that was one of the best way to do Hellboywill be to process the movie digitally, in post. So we can ...manipulate theimage after shooting the negative. That gives us not only a great range to workon the set, with more freedom, but also will allow for a lot of the colors topop out. Right now with digital posting, the most involved thing is to use it todesaturate the colors, to go to a sepia or a thick blue hue or so. The light isgoing to remain rich and the colors that are in the comic.

I want to say another thingabout the color palette that is used in the comic book on bringing exactly thatinto a film. The color palette in the comic goes from all those gray-blues to gray-greensto mauve-greens and also blue colors and Hellboy is the only red element in thepage. We're going with that. We're going to make Hellboy, with the exception ofthe scene [with] the nazi banners which we cannot do anything about; they usered. Can't go back and criticize their fashion sense any more. So we have themindset of going with the exact colors that are in the comics.

Q: How interested in you indeveloping this for a franchise or are you just interested in telling the beststory possible?

GDT: Well, I think the goodthing about this project and this character is, Mike set up the franchise. He'sthe one that is on the fifth book, the fifth mini-series. So, I think that whatis interesting is the continuing adventures of Hellboy will be something thatwill grow and will not be in my hands at all. I'm not really interested in, andMike and I have talked about it very carefully, we always come to the sameconclusion, we say, "All we need to do is make the movie that we love. Thatwe think is fucking fantastic." And the way we go about translating thisis...for example the designs that Mike draws of the characters, from bringingthem into three dimensions as you have seen for example with the toys or the PVCfigures sometimes it will be hard and it can be a very delicate process, so wefound that, and you're not going to see any brutal changes at all. Abe Sapien isgonna be Abe Sapien. And he's gonna be that, he's gonna be as perfect andbeautiful as in the comics. He's not gonna be, all of a sudden a guy that is ofsomeone's imagination other than Mike's. The same thing will Hellboy. I thinkthat the worst thing that can happen to the movie is you get a producer or anagent that says, "Well, it's a comic books. I'll make it better." or"I'll make it work." That's really the screwed way to approach aprojects. So we're approaching it carefully containing that. All the gothicsurroundings and the gritty sewer and the gritty subterranean chambers and allof that will be there and he will battle huge, fucking Lovecraft monsterstowards the end. Huge monsters.

[applause]

Mike and I were in Lake Placidwith Ray Harryhausen because one of the ideas we had didn't work because Mr.Harryhausen is against violence and Hellboy does kick a lot of monster ass. Butthe way we conceived the picture is as the way when we were children we lookedat Harryhausen movies: you have two creatures beating the crap out of each otherand you enjoyed the hell out of it. That's the essence of the comic bookis you get to see that a lot. It's not a gory film. I did that one. It's not agory film but it's filled with really Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola-esque, bigaction. Big fights between creatures. And we do have, as I said, the big C'thulucreature towards the end.

Q: How will the obscurereferences be made palatable to the average movie-goer.

A:

MM: I don't think there's thatmuch obscure reference stuff in the film. There's enough to give it the feel ofthe Hellboy stuff. People reference certain occult things. But you don't need tohave a working knowledge of that stuff, you just need to know that when he'stalking about that stuff you go, 'Whoa. It sounds like he really knows what he'stalking about.' Which is why I throw that stuff into the comics, so it soundslike I know what I'm talking about.

GDT: It's like when you watch E.R.You know there's "Give him the two cc's of [medical jargon]" You don'tget what there doing but as long as the guy doing the scene did hishomework. I remember Mike and I arguing about a circle of Solomon one day.As long as we know what we're doing. I think there's a great amount of pressureon movies sometimes, on the audience to try to get everything and a lot of timesit's just there for the flow and to give you a sense of reality of those things.We did the homework. You don't need to do it. You're not going to do anythingincorrect. You will not invoke accidentally the wrong demon.

MM: You won't need a glossaryof terms to know what's going on.

Q: Tell us about The Left Handof Darkness

GDT: Well, I stole the titlefrom the Ursula Le Guin's novel because we were, by then, looking for financing.It was called Monte Cristo originally but we changed the title when the JimCaviezel thing was happening. It's a really fun project. I don't know when it'sgonna happen or if it's not gonna happen but I stick to the projects I like. Allthe time people tell me you have 10 projects and I say "yeah, but I've hadthem for 10 years."

Devil's Backbone took sixteenyears, Chronos took eight, Mimic was the one that took a little, but we won'ttalk about that. And Hellboy took five. So this one was one of the ones to goright after Chronos. It's been with me about eight years and it's basically an1860's version of T Count of Monte Cristo as a gothic western in Mexico, with aguy with a mechanical clockwork hand and is the fastest gunslinger in the west.It all happens at dusk with people in black clothes. It's a great idea to do theaesthetics of a horror film in a western. Hollywood is strange, as a big-budgetthing. I can do it independently in Spanish, just take the idea I had and do itfor five million bucks in Spanish on my own terms and screw it. That's a reallygreat option. Screw it is a great option.

Q: What will the movie berated.

GDT: It's the first story to bePG-13 for me because in the comic is not gory. It's violent but not gory. So wewill have all the tentacles that you can choke on but there ain't gonna be anygonna be an dick, tits, ass or fucking. Not because we don't want to be true tothe comic. In the comic no one says "fuck you". Hellboy says "sonof a--" and he says "aw crap" which are perfectlyacceptable. I think that the comic has a lot of action, but its not a gory film.That said, what I consider healthy others consider super-sick, so we'll see whathappens. When the movie's done, when we think it's ready, that's what we'regoing to fight to put out in front of you, we're not going to come out crying"they made us cut it". I think that the DVD is great to have it, butif you wanted it in the movie you should have put it in the movie. Don't put iton the DVD.

Q: I really loved the use ofsilence and stillness in the comic. What are your ideas about translating that.

GDT: I don't know how many ofyou saw them but I've done four movies and of the four movies, Chronos, evenMimic and Devil's Backbone were quiet horror movies and certainly two of them wemore interested in characters than anything else. And then I do Blade 2 and Iget concerned, "is it gonna be too fast?" I love quiet horror movies.The great thing about Hellboy is it's like all those movies put together.Hellboy has a quiet, gothic horror, great characters, great action to break it,but you will get great atmosphere. You will get a little bit of all thosemovies. The only thing that you will feel, and I saw a little bit of this onBlade 2, it's very hard to generate atmospheric terror with a character that isas self-sufficient as Hellboy or Blade. If you put a normal person or a kid in aroom alone in a cellar, you have the empathy of them. But if you put WesleySnipes with eight guns and a blade you're like, "I wanna see him killwhatever's in the dark." you don't get afraid. It's impossible.

We had some longer, tenseversions of the blade scary scenes and you were not scared. The same is true ofHellboy.

Q: But he often gets the crapbeat out of him, or electrocuted.

GDT: I will have some of thatstuff. The great thing about Hellboy is you can punch him a lot.

[dirty look from Ron Perlman]

Q: Can you give us themythology that the storyline is based off of? Also, what creature shops are yougoing to use?

MM: As far as the myths andstuff, the film is very much based on the first mini-series. There's actually alot of Catholic, uh --

GDT: -- guilt

MM: -- guilt in it. Guillermobrought extra of that. There's a little bit of demonology. But it's a monstermovie as Guillermo said.

GDT: It's not a [study] of theoccult..

MM: Exactly. It's not AlistairCrowley. It's not hardcore mythological or hardcore religion. Names are pulledfrom mythology, from folklore, from demonology, but it's a monster movie, as thecomic is. So you won't need to know anything going in.

GDT: But one of the books Mikeand I, the first time we met, we were like 'you use this and you use that,' andwe were like 'yeah.'

MM: We read the same bookswhich is very interesting.

GDT: We both love ArthurMachen...we both have a particular fondness for a book that's called passport tothe supernatural by Bernard J. Herbert. --

MM: -- Oh yeah --

GDT: -- which catalogs the mostbeautiful catalog of vampire, zombies, werewolves mythologies. It was printed inthe seventies. It's a rare book but if you can get your hands on it it's a lotof fun and it was actually a kind of sphincter tightening read. You have todislodge from the chair after reading.

In terms of the movie, whatMike has said is true. Listen to the name. It's "hell, boy." It's not"hell SPAWN" or "hell CHILD." It's self-effacing in a way.In the comic, the beauty of it is you have the origin of hell is, yeah there isthe whole catholic idea of hell or the concept of hell, but, it has also asci-fi, multi-dimensional feel. Remember those aliens, the Jack Kirby aliens whomonitor those things and that Mike has not been gentleman enough to tell me whatthe fuck they do.

MM: When I know I'll tell you.

GDT: But it can also exist asanother dimension, a dimension that includes C'Thulu-esque creatures that arebigger than man and bigger than mankind. The translation is, just as much as wewanted to cast the right actor, we wanted to cast the right shop for doingHellboy. Because we couldn't just go and go after just any makeup effects shopto do Hellboy. So we knew from the start we wanted Rick Baker. They're doingHellboy for me.

What we're doing is one of theguys who worked on Blade 2, a guy that was a really smart, great engineer ofmechanical effects, said "I want a chance to prove that I can have m ownshop and I can do a great job," so we're giving him a chance to have is ownshop. It's a new shop called Spectral Motion and so far they've been fantasticin what they have done in creating the creatures.

We have Wayne Barlowe, we haveMike, we have three Japanese artists...

MM: Also we do have aprofessional designer on the picture, Ty Rueben Ellington who worked on JurassicPark, who worked on Star Wars, who worked on Casper --

GDT: -- Unfortunately --

MM: -- and who designed themimic for Mimic.

GDT: -- and who designed theblade-weapon for Blade 2 that Reinhardt uses. The gun with the big blade.

MM: -- and he designedHellboy's gun for this and it's amazing --

GDT: -- it's a good gun.

Q: Is the B.P.R.D. in it? AndRon, can you give us an "aw crap."

RP: Aw crap.

MM: The B.P.R.D. is in therequite a bit, actually.

GDT: We have Liz Sherman inthere. We have Abe Sapien. Abe is my favorite character from Hellboy. I thinkthat it's great to see Abe. Abe is in there three-quarters of the movie and thenI think the second movie would be about Abe Sapien's love life maybe, with largemammals or something. Those are the members that we could cram in, but not allof them are in.

Q: For Ron, what's your take onHellboy's personality and what kind of preparation are you taking for the role,if any?

RP: Well I have some chocolatein front of me.

[del Toro takes the chocolate]

RP: Hellboy, in my mind, in anutshell, is summoned to Earth for the purposes of serving evil and creating ahellish world on Earth to be used in for someone else's expedience in theirquest for power and through a skirmish at that moment in time, is adopted andraised and socialized to use his supernatural abilities for good. So he's kindof betwixt and between. And he has a pronounced sense of both poles. He's alittle bit bi-polar. The way it manifests itself in his personality. The wayhe's come to find a comfort zone on earth is that he is just an under-achieverbasically. And that he's the world's biggest and most epic under-achiever.He has this incredible physical presence and ability. He has a huge heart whichcan be molded either for the use of good or for evil. And he has thismischievous, devilish kind of circuitry which kind of undermines all of this,which always is in conflict with one another. The fun is going to be in findingthe balance and finding out where he truly lives.

But everything that he does isepic.

My favorite thing that has beeninvented for he purposes of the film is Hellboy's bachelor pad, for lack of abetter word. It's kind of like what my room would look like if I wasn't marriedand have kids. There's a lot of empty pizza boxes and magazines and old dirtysocks and stuff. That's helpful.

He's kind of fun to be aroundbecause he's very devilish and he's very cognizant of his power, but reticent touse it or misuse it. He occupies this very kind of delicious, sort of "ahfuck it", when in doubt, "nah. Nah, fuck it."

GDT: With Hellboy the wordreluctant comes into play. He's a reluctant beast of the apocalypse but he'salso...a regular guy. He's a guy that is faced with extraordinary circumstancesand extraordinary foes, and he's a blue-collar guy. He's like "Do I reallyhave to beat the crap out of these tall creatures with tentacles?"

It's an attitude that Mike hadvery clear from the start when we talk about it. It's essential to the comicthat he's like that. He was born to one thing and was raised to do somethingcompletely different. That dichotomy is really interesting and Hellboy, hisjourney in the movie is learning which side he's gonna lean toward. If you saw"Wake the Devil" and "Seeds of Destruction" essentiallythat's what the character's go through.

RP: He has epic appetites aswell, which he and I share in the comics , almost to the point where he'swilling to destroy himself to get that last piece of cake. His epic appetitesare his defining characteristics and also in many cases his own undoing. He's aterrible romantic so when he decides he's going to be in love with somebody hewould destroy himself --

GDT: -- and the rest of theworld --

RP: -- and the rest of theworld. So he's somebody we all feel for because we all know that feeling, whatit's like to want something so bad and you're not sure how far you're willing togo to get it. Hellboy is able and willing and screws himself up time and timeagain trying to satiate his appetite.

GDT: The title of the comic is"The World's Greatest Paranormal Detective" right? And he detects verylittle. It's like The Amazing Screw-On Head. The Greatest Paranormal Detective.He detects the following: He opens the door. If the monster is there he beatsthe crap out of him. That's the extent of his investigation. It's not like inthe comic he goes, "Well this leads to that which may indicate..." No,it's "oh, there you are. Bam!"

It's essentially as much anoxymoron as the Amazing Screw-on.

MM: And I knew that. I knew hewas a bad detective. I put that on there as a joke. It wasn't like I just reallywrite bad detective stories. I never had any intention of writing detectivestories.

GDT: But the great thing aboutHellboy is that's his title, right? Why is it because he's earned it? No, butwho the fuck is gonna tell him?

RP: But his sense of greatdetective work is: "What do you think? OK. Let's go get them"

Q: How will the movie effectthe comic.

MM: Well, I don't look at it aseffecting the comic because when the film is over and done with the comic iswhat it was. It's not like when the film is done I start drawing the filmversion of the B.P.R.D head quarters or the design of the Abe Sapien changes alittle bit to be closer to the film. It's a parallel universe. In a lot of ways,the way I look at it is Guillermo, with me, we've come up with a script that isa little different and a lot of ways a lot better than the original mini-series Icame up with. There are things that are different because there are things thatwork in film that don't work in comics, and vice versa. So, I look at them asthings that stand right next to each other. I don't look at the film as being inthe line of comics. It's just off to one side. I'm very comfortable with it. I'mvery happy about it.

Q: When you created Hellboy,were there things you left out?

MM: Yeah. There was a whole back story.I created a whole mythology and stuff, some of which surfaces in the film. Someof it is exactly what I had in mind. So there are things in the film thatI haven't had a chance to put into the comic. Around the time the film comes outI'll be doing a mini-series...I'm going to comic that says what I had in mindfor that side. So there's a lot of back story that I plotted out.

I've always said of Abe Sapienthat I liked it better that people find him in a jar in a basement. I can't dobetter than that.

Q: Mike what makes Ron andGuillermo the people to do this film? Guillermo: what makes Ron the person to doit? and Ron why are you working with these two?

MM: The first time we askedGuillermo, the first question he asked me is who should play Hellboy, and heknew and I knew because somebody had suggested Ron to me and I said "ofcourse, that's perfect." Because I'd never thought of it...and once I knewthat I literally could not imagine anyone else. When Guillermo met me and saidwho should play Hellboy, he knew and I knew and we were kind of sizing eachother up, who as gonna say it first and of course we said it at the same time.

And then Guillermo went on tosay I want to make this The Last Emperor of cheesy monster movies.I wasn't aware of it at that time that I had a formula to what I do, but thatwas certainly it. Over the years, comparing notes. We like the same stuff, wereference the same materials, I can't imagine there's another filmmaker outthere. Certainly not one of Guillermo's quality --

GDT: -- and girth --

MM: -- He just has a feelingfor this material, so it couldn't be in better hands.

RP: I was lucky enough to getasked by Guillermo to do his first movie Chronos back in 1992 and we've justbecome best friends and occasionally worked together since that point. So, I'm alongfor the ride. I have no idea what these guys see in my but I feel very blessedand grateful that I get to be the beneficiary of their most twistedimaginations. It's all been really cool. Being in Chronos was really cool. Beingin Blade was super-cool but I've got a feeling that being in Hellboy, that'll bethe project that will be on the gravestone "...and he was Hellboy."Who in his right mind wouldn't want to be Hellboy. I don't ever stop to thinkabout why I'm in because if I did I'd probably have a nervous breakdown. I'mjust hoping to keep on this beautiful train we're on.

GDT: Finally about these twoguys. When we started he process of adapting Hellboy and we had one of our firstmeetings in the studio and they started the stupid questions that they alwaysdo. And they say, "couldn't he be a guy that is normal and then when hegets angry he turns into Hellboy?" No, he couldn't be that. "Well,does he have to be red all the time?" Yes. "Does he have to be calledHellboy?" Yes. And after that round of things they said, "well gowrite the screenplay."

So I come back and they say,"we love the story, the idea. Can The Rock be him?" No. Stone ColdSteve Austin can direct. They say, "who do you see?" Everybody at thetime started dancing really fast and saying, "well it could be this or itcould be that." and I say, "it's Ron Perlman." Why do I believeRon is the guy to do it.

I think that, number one, a guycan do Vincent in Beauty and the Beast and Name of the RoseSalvatore and a Neanderthal in Quest for Fire. That's a fuckingrange. Number one. Why, because those three characters are parts of Hellboy.Hellboy can be a Neanderthal, can be Salvatore, can be Vincent. He's a guy thatyou can admire. Personally I would like Hellboy to be my dad. "Will youadopt me? I'm fat"

Number two: many actors you puta mask on them and it dies. The mask dies, the effect dies and it becomesprosthetic under dead flesh. This is a guy that makes it come alive.

And the third and final thingaside from knowing how much of Hellboy lives inside of Ron. How much they havein common. I asked him to work on Chronos because I admired him and I try towork with people I admire. But the last the last thing and the mostimportant one is that fucking voice.

About Mike: When I was shootinga movie in 97 and having a really hard time doing it, essentially having agrinder on my nuts going very slowly...then popping one at a time, I would haveone single thing to look forward to and that was every single issue of Hellboy.I love Mike. I remember the period when Mike became Mike when he went fromRocket Raccoon to all of a sudden in Cosmic Odyssey and there was those weirdfigures with huge torsos and tiny legs, and that guy with the huge fucking holein his chest. And there were all those crazy things and little by little, Mikewas becoming more his own creature. The way he evolved and all of a sudden:Hellboy. And when Hellboy happened I knew I was looking at a universe that wasso unique. I don't know if it happens to you but very seldom a comic book wouldmake me recede back in years and become regress to a ten-year-old kid. When thathappens at the ripe old age of 38 and 500 fucking pounds on each cheek of myass, that's magic. That is something that is not often scene. and you go,"if this is that fucking good why am I not dedicating several years of mylife to making it happen? So that's why I'm working with them!

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