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Copyright © Kitley's Krypt
2013 RONDO AWARD
Conducted on August 9th, 2008, at the HorrorHound Weekend.
Kitley’s Krypt: Even though you’ve done plenty of movies without extensive makeup, you’ve seen to become more predominate now that you’ve done roles with your face hidden behind all that makeup. How do you feel about that?
Doug Jones: I
feel good about it, actually. If you would have asked me that a few years ago,
I would have told you that I’d be looking forward to the end of my career being
without makeup at all, so I could age gracefully without having to wear rubber
on my face.
KK: Since your face is covered in these make-up creations, what do you do as an actor to breathe life into those characters?
DJ: Acting is
acting. So whether I’m wearing a light dusting of powder that day on a sitcom,
or wearing heavy rubber prosthetic make-ups, I still have to find the heart and
soul of the character. That’s really where it starts with me. The main purpose
for me as an actor is to get into the character with the script and find out
where he fits into the story and all that. My next step is to go to a dance
studio with mirrors and a wood floor and just myself. And then figure out, from
the script and talking to the director also, how does this character move, walk,
talk, lunge for things, run, squat, all those things that’s called upon for him
to do, and how do I work that out visually. I try to open up myself and let the
character come in and play him through me physically.
KK: So the development of the character starts before the make-up tests, or how does that change once you find out what limitations you might have in the make-up?
DJ: I can work out as much as I want in front of a mirror with myself and a pair of shorts. But once the make-up and costume get applied, and all the tests, when I go into for fitting after fitting, there’s some limitations now. Maybe the head doesn’t turn as far to the left as I’d hoped. Or maybe the arms don’t lift as high over my shoulders as I’d hope. But that’s where the creature lives now, in these little movements. Or maybe sometimes there’s an enhancement, like finger extensions or horns on the head that make the tilt on the head more accentuated. So I have more capabilities then some as well. Or there’s leg extensions or you’re up on stilts. You find that out when you go through all of your fittings.
KK: What was the longest you had to sit in the make-up chair?
DJ: The longest
was 7 hours on the first Hellboy. Abe Sapien took 7 hours with 3 make-up
artists putting him together. When you saw me with just shorts on, that’s a lot
of blue fish-guy showing. The more costuming I wear, you know the longer the
sleeve, or the longer the pants, if there’s black gloves on that day, it takes
less time for make-up for that’s all costuming. It just slips on.
KK: What do you normally do during that time?
DJ: I zone out a lot. I get to know my make-up artists really well. We joke around a lot, tell stories, listen to music, and watch things on YouTube if there’s a laptop in the trailer. And I do zone out and fall asleep sometimes too if my head is at an angle where I can do that.
KK: You first met Guillermo del Toro on Mimic. What was your first impression of him?
DJ: My first impression was he the director or a fan-boy? He’s really a fan-boy first, I
came to find out. Because on Mimic, he sat with me at lunch time on my
second day and asked me all these questions like “What other creatures have you
played?” and “What make-up artists have you worked with?” And he had his chin
in his hands, fascinated listening to all my stories. He told me that he had
started as a make-up effects artist in Mexico. Monsters are a love of his. He
asked me if I had a card. So I gave him this goofy card of mine and he stuck it
in his wallet. Then 5 years later, when he was doing the design for Hellboy,
when he approved the design for Abe Sapien make-up, he was congratulating the
guys at Special Motions, the creature shop on a design well done. One of the
designers said, “This looks like Doug Jones.” Guillermo said (with Doug doing a
great impression of Guillermo) “Doug Jones? I know Doug Jones.” And he pulls
my card out of his wallet. So they called me and that’s how Abe Sapien
happened for me.
KK: Has he changed since when you worked on Mimic to now?
personality has not changed, and will never change. He is as delightful today
as he was then. He will always be a little boy who is delightful and a big fan
of movies, big fan of art, big fan of artists, and writers. The only thing that
has changed is how other people perceive him. And that’s only getting better.
He’s getting more and more respect with every movie he makes. And after being
down the red carpet at the Oscars with 6 nominations with Pan’s Labyrinth,
they better respect him, darn it!
KK: How did the role of Cesare in the remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari come about?
DJ: I loved doing Dr. Caligari. That was a process I’d never been through before. We shot the entire film on green screen, and they plopped us into the original film’s backdrops. I had never done anything like that before. And to reprise a beloved silent film iconic role like Ceasare, the somnambulist, was intimating for me. Because of Conrad Veidt, who played it the first time did such a brilliant job of it. I felt there’s gigantic shoes to fill. When you do a role like that, for me, it’s best not to watch the original performance so I can do my own thing with it. But I thought, no, this is such a stylized piece and it needs to really stay in that German expressionist style. We’re going to be plopped in the original film, so we really need to pay attention that original film. So I watched Conrad’s performance, and I absorbed as much as his take on Cesare as I could, and then I have a little Doug Jones in there because I have too. I come into the room as Doug Jones, so I have to kind of give you some of that. I’m really happy with what we pulled off there. I thought it was so innovative. I loved the original silent film. Seeing them back to back is the way I would advise anyone to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. See the 1919 silent version. Then follow it right away with the 2007 talkie version, also in black and white. It’s so much fun to compare and contrast the two. Plus, they’re both short, so you can do both of them back to back. It’s a very short double feature. The second one, with the dialog, it helps fill in the gaps that silent always leaves. In silent films, you’re watching a lot of action, with people ranting and raving, and then a dialog card comes up that says “Yes, Mother”. And you’re like “Wait…they said more than that!” So our version of Caligari will give you more. It doesn’t give you more that’s daring and innovative, it gives you more that’s true to the original story.
KK: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
DJ: Not so much
a fan of horror genre. Classics? Yes. Blood and guts? Not so much.
Gratuitous gore is not my thing so much. But if gore is part of the story that
going somewhere that has a redeeming quality to it, with characters that I care
about, then yes, I love that. The kind of horror that I’ve been involved with,
are stories I love watching. I loved my episode of Fear Itself. I loved
the writing; I loved the relationships in that story. I love Larry Fessenden as
KK: Thank you for coming out. It’s always great for fans to have the chance to meet people face to face. And especially people like you, since we don’t normally see your face. So thank you.
DJ: Well thank you for looking at my face and thinking I’m not scary.
KK: Thank you for taking the time and talking with us.
DJ: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.
For more information about Doug Jones, check out his official website: The Doug Jones Experience