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

Fri, August 2nd, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

[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 start

communication this early. We're two years away from the movie so talk about

premature 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 we

wanted to do is to make that event special. We didn't want to make cheap fucking

key chains or a fucking post card that you would wipe your ass with. We wanted

to 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 printed

2004. That's it. We're not going to reprint it. You're not going to see it on

the back cover of anything. The other thing we wanted to do is to start the

dialog with you. I think Hellboy is a property that you guys love

as much as I do, being a fan. I know that we are not a majority. Right now it's

a very elite group of readers...he doesn't have Spawn or Marvel numbers. He's

much more of a cult kind of comic. Therefore, I know that it's a comic that

demands more attention...demands to be done with the utmost love and care, and

with the right people.

I want you guys to know two

things. I'm doing this movie only because I'm desperately in love with the

comic, not because I want to change it or make it better. I think that when you

know of something good, you want to build a world around it. You want to , if

possible, 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 lit

Mike came on board. He will stay through the process so that we can assure, not

only hours of fun crushing him against the wall...but also that the property

gets translated to film correctly. Now I give you to Ron Perlman who will say a

few 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 third

collaboration with Guillermo. We've done two other films together so he knows

all my bad habits. It'll be interesting hopefully. I look forward to having an

amazing time working on what is a magical property and what is a fantastic

adaptation thereof, in terms of its genesis to the screen. So I'm thrilled to be

here 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 these

gigantic 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 in

The Last Supper. This question's for Guillermo but Mike, I really love you're

art. I love your uses of black and white and how colors apply to that and I'm

wondering how that's going to translate into film. And what storyline are you

going to use?

MM: Well Guillermo can handle

the film end of that stuff because I don't know how he does that stuff. The

movie is roughly based on the first mini-series. There are a lot of changes in

it and there are a lot of elements from other mini-series just kind of tossed

in. But the arc of it is roughly the Seeds of Destructions mini-series.

GDT: The conversion of the film

from the comics, The thing is the saturation of the black that Mike draws...we

basically started experimenting...by the way I want to clarify one thing: Blade

2, which I love as a kick-ass vampire movie is not what Hellboy will be. Hellboy

is a movie with much deeper characters, and so in. Blade 2 was of a great value

to us because we were given the tools to experiment a lot of great visual quirks

that 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 a

lot. One of the things we learned on that was one of the best way to do Hellboy

will be to process the movie digitally, in post. So we can ...manipulate the

image after shooting the negative. That gives us not only a great range to work

on the set, with more freedom, but also will allow for a lot of the colors to

pop out. Right now with digital posting, the most involved thing is to use it to

desaturate the colors, to go to a sepia or a thick blue hue or so. The light is

going to remain rich and the colors that are in the comic.

I want to say another thing

about the color palette that is used in the comic book on bringing exactly that

into a film. The color palette in the comic goes from all those gray-blues to gray-greens

to mauve-greens and also blue colors and Hellboy is the only red element in the

page. We're going with that. We're going to make Hellboy, with the exception of

the scene [with] the nazi banners which we cannot do anything about; they use

red. Can't go back and criticize their fashion sense any more. So we have the

mindset of going with the exact colors that are in the comics.

Q: How interested in you in

developing this for a franchise or are you just interested in telling the best

story possible?

GDT: Well, I think the good

thing about this project and this character is, Mike set up the franchise. He's

the one that is on the fifth book, the fifth mini-series. So, I think that what

is interesting is the continuing adventures of Hellboy will be something that

will grow and will not be in my hands at all. I'm not really interested in, and

Mike and I have talked about it very carefully, we always come to the same

conclusion, we say, "All we need to do is make the movie that we love. That

we think is fucking fantastic." And the way we go about translating this

is...for example the designs that Mike draws of the characters, from bringing

them into three dimensions as you have seen for example with the toys or the PVC

figures sometimes it will be hard and it can be a very delicate process, so we

found that, and you're not going to see any brutal changes at all. Abe Sapien is

gonna be Abe Sapien. And he's gonna be that, he's gonna be as perfect and

beautiful as in the comics. He's not gonna be, all of a sudden a guy that is of

someone's imagination other than Mike's. The same thing will Hellboy. I think

that the worst thing that can happen to the movie is you get a producer or an

agent 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 a

projects. So we're approaching it carefully containing that. All the gothic

surroundings and the gritty sewer and the gritty subterranean chambers and all

of that will be there and he will battle huge, fucking Lovecraft monsters

towards the end. Huge monsters.

[applause]

Mike and I were in Lake Placid

with 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. But

the way we conceived the picture is as the way when we were children we looked

at Harryhausen movies: you have two creatures beating the crap out of each other

and you enjoyed the hell out of it. That's the essence of the comic book

is you get to see that a lot. It's not a gory film. I did that one. It's not a

gory film but it's filled with really Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola-esque, big

action. Big fights between creatures. And we do have, as I said, the big C'thulu

creature towards the end.

Q: How will the obscure

references be made palatable to the average movie-goer.

A:

MM: I don't think there's that

much obscure reference stuff in the film. There's enough to give it the feel of

the Hellboy stuff. People reference certain occult things. But you don't need to

have a working knowledge of that stuff, you just need to know that when he's

talking about that stuff you go, 'Whoa. It sounds like he really knows what he's

talking about.' Which is why I throw that stuff into the comics, so it sounds

like 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't

get what there doing but as long as the guy doing the scene did his

homework. 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 pressure

on movies sometimes, on the audience to try to get everything and a lot of times

it'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 anything

incorrect. You will not invoke accidentally the wrong demon.

MM: You won't need a glossary

of terms to know what's going on.

Q: Tell us about The Left Hand

of Darkness

GDT: Well, I stole the title

from 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 Jim

Caviezel thing was happening. It's a really fun project. I don't know when it's

gonna happen or if it's not gonna happen but I stick to the projects I like. All

the time people tell me you have 10 projects and I say "yeah, but I've had

them for 10 years."

Devil's Backbone took sixteen

years, Chronos took eight, Mimic was the one that took a little, but we won't

talk about that. And Hellboy took five. So this one was one of the ones to go

right after Chronos. It's been with me about eight years and it's basically an

1860's version of T Count of Monte Cristo as a gothic western in Mexico, with a

guy 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 the

aesthetics of a horror film in a western. Hollywood is strange, as a big-budget

thing. I can do it independently in Spanish, just take the idea I had and do it

for five million bucks in Spanish on my own terms and screw it. That's a really

great option. Screw it is a great option.

Q: What will the movie be

rated.

GDT: It's the first story to be

PG-13 for me because in the comic is not gory. It's violent but not gory. So we

will have all the tentacles that you can choke on but there ain't gonna be any

gonna be an dick, tits, ass or fucking. Not because we don't want to be true to

the comic. In the comic no one says "fuck you". Hellboy says "son

of a--" and he says "aw crap" which are perfectly

acceptable. 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 what

happens. When the movie's done, when we think it's ready, that's what we're

going 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, but

if you wanted it in the movie you should have put it in the movie. Don't put it

on the DVD.

Q: I really loved the use of

silence and stillness in the comic. What are your ideas about translating that.

GDT: I don't know how many of

you saw them but I've done four movies and of the four movies, Chronos, even

Mimic and Devil's Backbone were quiet horror movies and certainly two of them we

more interested in characters than anything else. And then I do Blade 2 and I

get 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 those

movies. The only thing that you will feel, and I saw a little bit of this on

Blade 2, it's very hard to generate atmospheric terror with a character that is

as self-sufficient as Hellboy or Blade. If you put a normal person or a kid in a

room alone in a cellar, you have the empathy of them. But if you put Wesley

Snipes with eight guns and a blade you're like, "I wanna see him kill

whatever's in the dark." you don't get afraid. It's impossible.

We had some longer, tense

versions of the blade scary scenes and you were not scared. The same is true of

Hellboy.

Q: But he often gets the crap

beat out of him, or electrocuted.

GDT: I will have some of that

stuff. The great thing about Hellboy is you can punch him a lot.

[dirty look from Ron Perlman]

Q: Can you give us the

mythology that the storyline is based off of? Also, what creature shops are you

going to use?

MM: As far as the myths and

stuff, the film is very much based on the first mini-series. There's actually a

lot of Catholic, uh --

GDT: -- guilt

MM: -- guilt in it. Guillermo

brought extra of that. There's a little bit of demonology. But it's a monster

movie as Guillermo said.

GDT: It's not a [study] of the

occult..

MM: Exactly. It's not Alistair

Crowley. It's not hardcore mythological or hardcore religion. Names are pulled

from mythology, from folklore, from demonology, but it's a monster movie, as the

comic is. So you won't need to know anything going in.

GDT: But one of the books Mike

and I, the first time we met, we were like 'you use this and you use that,' and

we were like 'yeah.'

MM: We read the same books

which is very interesting.

GDT: We both love Arthur

Machen...we both have a particular fondness for a book that's called passport to

the supernatural by Bernard J. Herbert. --

MM: -- Oh yeah --

GDT: -- which catalogs the most

beautiful catalog of vampire, zombies, werewolves mythologies. It was printed in

the seventies. It's a rare book but if you can get your hands on it it's a lot

of fun and it was actually a kind of sphincter tightening read. You have to

dislodge from the chair after reading.

In terms of the movie, what

Mike 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 is

the whole catholic idea of hell or the concept of hell, but, it has also a

sci-fi, multi-dimensional feel. Remember those aliens, the Jack Kirby aliens who

monitor those things and that Mike has not been gentleman enough to tell me what

the fuck they do.

MM: When I know I'll tell you.

GDT: But it can also exist as

another dimension, a dimension that includes C'Thulu-esque creatures that are

bigger than man and bigger than mankind. The translation is, just as much as we

wanted to cast the right actor, we wanted to cast the right shop for doing

Hellboy. Because we couldn't just go and go after just any makeup effects shop

to do Hellboy. So we knew from the start we wanted Rick Baker. They're doing

Hellboy for me.

What we're doing is one of the

guys who worked on Blade 2, a guy that was a really smart, great engineer of

mechanical effects, said "I want a chance to prove that I can have m own

shop and I can do a great job," so we're giving him a chance to have is own

shop. It's a new shop called Spectral Motion and so far they've been fantastic

in what they have done in creating the creatures.

We have Wayne Barlowe, we have

Mike, we have three Japanese artists...

MM: Also we do have a

professional designer on the picture, Ty Rueben Ellington who worked on Jurassic

Park, who worked on Star Wars, who worked on Casper --

GDT: -- Unfortunately --

MM: -- and who designed the

mimic for Mimic.

GDT: -- and who designed the

blade-weapon for Blade 2 that Reinhardt uses. The gun with the big blade.

MM: -- and he designed

Hellboy's gun for this and it's amazing --

GDT: -- it's a good gun.

Q: Is the B.P.R.D. in it? And

Ron, can you give us an "aw crap."

RP: Aw crap.

MM: The B.P.R.D. is in there

quite a bit, actually.

GDT: We have Liz Sherman in

there. We have Abe Sapien. Abe is my favorite character from Hellboy. I think

that it's great to see Abe. Abe is in there three-quarters of the movie and then

I think the second movie would be about Abe Sapien's love life maybe, with large

mammals or something. Those are the members that we could cram in, but not all

of them are in.

Q: For Ron, what's your take on

Hellboy's personality and what kind of preparation are you taking for the role,

if any?

RP: Well I have some chocolate

in front of me.

[del Toro takes the chocolate]

RP: Hellboy, in my mind, in a

nutshell, is summoned to Earth for the purposes of serving evil and creating a

hellish world on Earth to be used in for someone else's expedience in their

quest for power and through a skirmish at that moment in time, is adopted and

raised and socialized to use his supernatural abilities for good. So he's kind

of betwixt and between. And he has a pronounced sense of both poles. He's a

little bit bi-polar. The way it manifests itself in his personality. The way

he's come to find a comfort zone on earth is that he is just an under-achiever

basically. 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 which

can be molded either for the use of good or for evil. And he has this

mischievous, 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 finding

the balance and finding out where he truly lives.

But everything that he does is

epic.

My favorite thing that has been

invented for he purposes of the film is Hellboy's bachelor pad, for lack of a

better word. It's kind of like what my room would look like if I wasn't married

and have kids. There's a lot of empty pizza boxes and magazines and old dirty

socks and stuff. That's helpful.

He's kind of fun to be around

because he's very devilish and he's very cognizant of his power, but reticent to

use it or misuse it. He occupies this very kind of delicious, sort of "ah

fuck it", when in doubt, "nah. Nah, fuck it."

GDT: With Hellboy the word

reluctant comes into play. He's a reluctant beast of the apocalypse but he's

also...a regular guy. He's a guy that is faced with extraordinary circumstances

and extraordinary foes, and he's a blue-collar guy. He's like "Do I really

have to beat the crap out of these tall creatures with tentacles?"

It's an attitude that Mike had

very clear from the start when we talk about it. It's essential to the comic

that he's like that. He was born to one thing and was raised to do something

completely different. That dichotomy is really interesting and Hellboy, his

journey in the movie is learning which side he's gonna lean toward. If you saw

"Wake the Devil" and "Seeds of Destruction" essentially

that's what the character's go through.

RP: He has epic appetites as

well, which he and I share in the comics , almost to the point where he's

willing to destroy himself to get that last piece of cake. His epic appetites

are his defining characteristics and also in many cases his own undoing. He's a

terrible romantic so when he decides he's going to be in love with somebody he

would destroy himself --

GDT: -- and the rest of the

world --

RP: -- and the rest of the

world. So he's somebody we all feel for because we all know that feeling, what

it's like to want something so bad and you're not sure how far you're willing to

go to get it. Hellboy is able and willing and screws himself up time and time

again trying to satiate his appetite.

GDT: The title of the comic is

"The World's Greatest Paranormal Detective" right? And he detects very

little. 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 beats

the crap out of him. That's the extent of his investigation. It's not like in

the comic he goes, "Well this leads to that which may indicate..." No,

it's "oh, there you are. Bam!"

It's essentially as much an

oxymoron as the Amazing Screw-on.

MM: And I knew that. I knew he

was a bad detective. I put that on there as a joke. It wasn't like I just really

write bad detective stories. I never had any intention of writing detective

stories.

GDT: But the great thing about

Hellboy is that's his title, right? Why is it because he's earned it? No, but

who the fuck is gonna tell him?

RP: But his sense of great

detective work is: "What do you think? OK. Let's go get them"

Q: How will the movie effect

the comic.

MM: Well, I don't look at it as

effecting the comic because when the film is over and done with the comic is

what it was. It's not like when the film is done I start drawing the film

version of the B.P.R.D head quarters or the design of the Abe Sapien changes a

little 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 is

a little different and a lot of ways a lot better than the original mini-series I

came up with. There are things that are different because there are things that

work in film that don't work in comics, and vice versa. So, I look at them as

things that stand right next to each other. I don't look at the film as being in

the line of comics. It's just off to one side. I'm very comfortable with it. I'm

very 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. Some

of it is exactly what I had in mind. So there are things in the film that

I haven't had a chance to put into the comic. Around the time the film comes out

I'll be doing a mini-series...I'm going to comic that says what I had in mind

for that side. So there's a lot of back story that I plotted out.

I've always said of Abe Sapien

that I liked it better that people find him in a jar in a basement. I can't do

better than that.

Q: Mike what makes Ron and

Guillermo the people to do this film? Guillermo: what makes Ron the person to do

it? and Ron why are you working with these two?

MM: The first time we asked

Guillermo, the first question he asked me is who should play Hellboy, and he

knew and I knew because somebody had suggested Ron to me and I said "of

course, that's perfect." Because I'd never thought of it...and once I knew

that I literally could not imagine anyone else. When Guillermo met me and said

who should play Hellboy, he knew and I knew and we were kind of sizing each

other up, who as gonna say it first and of course we said it at the same time.

And then Guillermo went on to

say 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 that

was certainly it. Over the years, comparing notes. We like the same stuff, we

reference the same materials, I can't imagine there's another filmmaker out

there. Certainly not one of Guillermo's quality --

GDT: -- and girth --

MM: -- He just has a feeling

for this material, so it couldn't be in better hands.

RP: I was lucky enough to get

asked by Guillermo to do his first movie Chronos back in 1992 and we've just

become best friends and occasionally worked together since that point. So, I'm along

for the ride. I have no idea what these guys see in my but I feel very blessed

and grateful that I get to be the beneficiary of their most twisted

imaginations. It's all been really cool. Being in Chronos was really cool. Being

in Blade was super-cool but I've got a feeling that being in Hellboy, that'll be

the 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 think

about why I'm in because if I did I'd probably have a nervous breakdown. I'm

just hoping to keep on this beautiful train we're on.

GDT: Finally about these two

guys. When we started he process of adapting Hellboy and we had one of our first

meetings in the studio and they started the stupid questions that they always

do. And they say, "couldn't he be a guy that is normal and then when he

gets 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 called

Hellboy?" Yes. And after that round of things they said, "well go

write the screenplay."

So I come back and they say,

"we love the story, the idea. Can The Rock be him?" No. Stone Cold

Steve Austin can direct. They say, "who do you see?" Everybody at the

time started dancing really fast and saying, "well it could be this or it

could be that." and I say, "it's Ron Perlman." Why do I believe

Ron is the guy to do it.

I think that, number one, a guy

can do Vincent in Beauty and the Beast and Name of the Rose

Salvatore and a Neanderthal in Quest for Fire. That's a fucking

range. 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 that

you can admire. Personally I would like Hellboy to be my dad. "Will you

adopt me? I'm fat"

Number two: many actors you put

a mask on them and it dies. The mask dies, the effect dies and it becomes

prosthetic under dead flesh. This is a guy that makes it come alive.

And the third and final thing

aside from knowing how much of Hellboy lives inside of Ron. How much they have

in common. I asked him to work on Chronos because I admired him and I try to

work with people I admire. But the last the last thing and the most

important one is that fucking voice.

About Mike: When I was shooting

a movie in 97 and having a really hard time doing it, essentially having a

grinder on my nuts going very slowly...then popping one at a time, I would have

one 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 from

Rocket Raccoon to all of a sudden in Cosmic Odyssey and there was those weird

figures with huge torsos and tiny legs, and that guy with the huge fucking hole

in his chest. And there were all those crazy things and little by little, Mike

was 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 was

so unique. I don't know if it happens to you but very seldom a comic book would

make me recede back in years and become regress to a ten-year-old kid. When that

happens at the ripe old age of 38 and 500 fucking pounds on each cheek of my

ass, 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 my

life to making it happen? So that's why I'm working with them!

 
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