The Life Aquatic with Hellboy II’s Doug Jones

Doug Jones’ face might not be recognizable to most fans, but he has brought to life some of the most fantastical creatures seen on film in the last decade. From the silent Gentlemen in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” to the Silver Surfer in "Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer," to fauns, imps, yetis and even morlocks, these are just a small portion of the work of this creature master. And of course, there’s Abe.

In July, Jones reprises his role as the Creature from the Black Lagoon-like Abe Sapien in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” This is his fourth outing with writer/director Guillermo del Toro, having most recently worked together on the critically acclaimed “El Laberinto de Fauna,” better known to English speaking audiences as “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and CBR News caught up with Jones to talk more about the highly anticipated adaptation of Mike Mignola's Dark Horse comic book.

Jones’ early days growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana were not all about monsters and mythical beasts. While in college, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication and a minor in Theatre, and he also learned how to mime, a skill that audiences can still see him practicing today in any number of roles. From there Jones starred in numerous commercials and music videos before coming in to his own on the Emmy-nominated silent episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” entitled “Hush,” and appearing subsequently in “The Lady In The Water”, “Men In Black II”, “Tank Girl”, “Mystery Men” and Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.”

The most important thing Doug Jones has found in bringing so many incredible and mythical creatures to life is that one first needs to become friends with them. “No matter what you are doing on film, you still have to find the heart and soul of your character,” Jones told CBR News. “It’s not going to be believable unless I believe it. It’s not going to be interesting to watch unless I’ve connected to the character and we have become friends. The Silver Surfer and I became very close while I was in his skin. Abe Sapien and I are extremely close now that I’ve been in his skin twice, and also done the voice for the animated projects [“Hellboy: Sword of Storms” and “Hellboy: Blood and Iron”]. So I’m much in love with my characters.”

For his outing as Abe Sapien in “Hellboy II,” Jones is providing the voice for the character for the first time in live action, replacing previous voice actor David Hyde Pierce. “It’s just a matter of post production,’ Jones said. “They actually keep my voice this time. The performance itself has always been there, when I played Abe Sapien the first time it wasn’t decided that my voice was going to be replaced just yet. Not totally. When I played the Silver Surfer [in “Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer”], no conclusive decision [had been] made that I was going to be replaced so I played the character in its entirety both those times.” Jones did admit there was one difference between this “Hellboy” performance and the last, knowing that his vocal performance was to remain complete and in tact. “It gave me more of a confidence, not having to feel like I was auditioning every day.”

Even knowing that Abe Sapien was going to have a more expanded role in the second film, Jones did not find himself tempted to request that his character be given the chance to do anything special. “No, I never do. Sometimes [Guillermo del Toro] might give me an option, in the moment, like, 'Do you think Abe would do this or that’ but the big picture is Guillermo’s vision and I would never tinker with that. I mean, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and when Guillermo writes a film it’s never broke. Trust me.”

This time around Jones, is not only playing the aquatic member of Hellboy’s team but also two other roles. The first is the Chamberlain, a member of the royal court in the Elven underworld seen in “Hellboy II.” “The Chamberlain is a gatekeeper [and] servant to the Elven underworld,” Jones said. The court is also where the villain of the piece, Prince Nuada (played by Luke Goss), resides with another character close to Jones’ heart, the Prince’s twin sister Princess Nuala, who just so happens to be Abe Sapien’s love interest. “The prince and the princess are twins and they are joined in a certain unspoken way,” Jones said. “So that creates our conflict.”

The other character Jones plays is that of the Angel Of Death. “The Angel Of Death is a yummy delicious character to fall into,” Jones said, explaining that the Angel Of Death is and androgynous kind of being. While Jones will also be providing the voice of the Angel Of Death, it came this time with a twist. “The vocal performance on that started with me and two other voices have been added in as well,” he said. “So it's a multi-layered [and] otherworldly sound that comes out of her/his voice. [Hellboy and his team] comes to the Angel Of Death for help and so you find death being kind of scary but the Angel Of Death being kind of nurturing and helpful in a way so the audience won't be sure how to feel about her/him and I like that.” Jones added that he felt the scene was “goose bumpy good.”

If the Angel Of Death doesn’t sound like a character anyone could relate to much less be friends with, Jones disagrees. “I understood her/him so, so well,” he said. “I felt like once, in her/his youth, she/he had all this glory and was a beautiful creature and she/he was created for a specific task which she/he hasn't been able to realize yet. So she's/he’s been waiting and fading and cracking and she/he doesn't know that though. She/he think's she/he is as beautiful as she/he ever was and I understand that now that I am forty seven, I understand that.”

Fans of Jones wondering where they can catch him next will be a bit disappointed to hear that nothing is yet official concerning a reprisal of his role as the Silver Surfer, though he does have a few other films on the docket. “I am the cameo kid this year,” Jones said. “I have a cameo coming up in a movie called “Quarantine” for Sony Pictures/Screen Gems. At the end of the film you'll see a special moment with just Dougie Jones.” Additionally, Jones will also be in the upcoming Screen Gems/Sony Pictures film “Legion.” “That is going to be in a cameo moment [in which] my face will show right before I start turning… weird. Something is not quite right about me when you meet me. I play the ice cream man in that film. It's an epic apocalyptic end of the world story and my moment in the film is where the tables turn and you realize, uh oh, we are in for something huge, and the legion comes in behind me. So I'm like the page turner for Act Two into Act Three of the film basically.”

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