David Harbour on fighting giants as Hellboy

The movie is a reboot of the Hellboy film series and is the third live-action installment in the series

  • Published 11.04.19, 7:38 PM
  • Updated 11.04.19, 7:38 PM
  • 3 mins read
A scene from Hellboy A still from the film

David Harbour opens up on playing the lead in Hellboy, the American superhero film based on the Dark Horse Comics fictional superhero character created by writer-artist Mike Mignola.

Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge. It is a reboot of the Hellboy film series and is the third live-action installment in the film series. The film draws inspiration from the comic books Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury.

Directed by Neil Marshall, the film also features Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim and Thomas Haden Church.

What was your first thought when you got to know that Neil Marshall is directing the new Hellboy?

Neil has a real horror background. I loved the movie The Descent that he made, he clearly understands gory and horror, and the sort of Gothic world of monsters. So I think what he’s bringing in that realm is terrific and he really specialises in it.

How was the experience of shooting the film’s most elaborate and action-filled set pieces — Hellboy’s epic fight against the giants?

I’m in prosthetics and this big suit running around, rolling on the floor, throwing guys off horses, punching people, the sweat under the mask was intense. There are only certain places where it can escape, like out of my eyes, underneath the brow, out of the horns and through the nose. My face would just be squishy with all of this sweat pouring out. I’d get so hot that they’d put me in an air-conditioned tent and unzip the back of my suit. I’d sit there panting like a dog, trying to get cold air in. Then, we’d zip up, go back and do it again.

How was the experience of working with Milla Jovovich?

I enjoyed working with Milla, she’s such a pro and especially in terms of these genre movies. She really understands this world and she just goes for it. At the end of the day it’s all dress up. It’s the greatest game of dress up you could ever play with your friends. I’m dressing a demon and she’s like a witch and we’re casting spell and chopping each other’s head off. The other thing about Milla that I love is that she knows how to make a movie, she understands all the elements. So while we are on sets and we are rehearsing, she understands camera, blocking, lighting and how to get the best shot.

How did you find Daniel Dae Kim and Sasha Lane on the sets?

Daniel is terrific. Of all the people on the set, I do feel like Daniel is a colleague. I sort of view all these people in different ways and Daniel and I have a similar trajectory. We have a lot of similarities, a lot of common friends, we see things with a similar kind of perspective, I just enjoy hanging out with him a lot. Sasha is just great. She is a kid, like a 12-year-old or something. But she has a quality, on camera she is just as luminous, she has these big eyes and very beautiful features. And I don’t mean this only physically, she has this inner quality to her.

How did you prepare for the physical demands of the role?

My body couldn’t change that much because of the prosthetics that I’m wearing, I needed to fit into the mould, but I got a lot stronger, and worked on a lot of power moves and power lifting, to physically be able to do these things. I’m 42 years old; it’s not like 22 any more. Your body isn’t just able to do certain things. So I did have to go back to the gym and literally train to develop this body which is more powerful. Then I got to Bulgaria and for a couple weeks I did a lot of stunt training with the guys here.

Tell us about your experience of working with the veteran stunt coordinator Markos Rounthwaite?

The toughest elements for me have been these stunt sequences. I think they are really fun too. The fights are crazy, there is really a sense that things are being killed, giants or monsters, and heads are being chopped off. You’re bathed in their blood, and you’re feeling the complex emotions of actually cutting the heart out of another being. All of that goes toward the issue that Hellboy is a killer, truly, a weapon.

What was your encounter like with Hellboy’s tail?

The tail is a pain in the ass. I remember, we had this day on set. I’d done this big scene, with fighting and stunts, and I’m slumped over, and the camera guys are like, ‘Um, well, your tail…’ I’m dealing with the hand, I’m dealing with the suit, I’m dealing with this whole thing! And my tail doesn’t look right?! I know you all think you want a tail. You really. Don’t. Want. A. Tail.

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