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The Doug Jones Experience on location in Budapest – Part 5: New York New York … October 23, 2007

Posted by hellmistress in Filming, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
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… so good they named it twice!! 

Thursday, 27th September, 2007 
Day 84 of filming
 

That 2:15pm pick-up at the Boscolo couldn’t come quick enough. Pat and I had a bite to eat at lunchtime and napped for a bit, then headed over to the Boscolo. There we were greeted by someone who became a friend during our stay – Musah, the doorman, owner of the whitest, cheekiest smile you could ever wish to see. Whenever we walked past the Boscolo and Musah was on day shift, we went through a ritual:

 

US: Good morning/afternoon, Musah!

MUSAH: (HUGE grin) Good morning/afternoon, Madams! How are you today?? Are you having fun?

US: We’re just tip-top, Musah, thank you. And how are you?

MUSAH: (an even HUGER grin) I am one hundred and TEN percent!!!

Thus would ensue lots of hugs with Musah’s unquenchable good nature washing over us like summer sunlight.

Today was no different, and after the giving and accepting of hugs, Musah escorted us into the Atrium and made sure we were comfortable. Bless him, he works 12-hour shifts, but no matter how weary he is, Musah always has a big smile and a welcome – a truly lovely soul.

We had a few minutes until Doug joined us, so I took the opportunity for one last photo of the Boscolo – here’s the New York Café.

budapestcafe.jpg

At 2:15 precisely, Gabor arrived and picked all three of us up, and we headed out on a decidedly cooler September afternoon to Korda Studios, a brand-spanking new facility built near the little town of Etyek about 17 miles out of Budapest. The weather was dull and threatening to rain, so I began to wonder if the scenes would have to be changed to the wet-weather alternatives, but the rain held off as we travelled past fields of what had only weeks earlier been full of sunflowers, but were now ploughed and harrowed, reseeded for the coming spring.

As we drove, Doug stretched out in his customary Travel Mode in the passenger seat, and I got out my journal and read out all of the greetings and messages of love and good wishes for him that had either been sent via email or on message boards on Del Toro Films or hellboy.com. And before anyone asks, yes, I read out every single one. Doug knew so many of the names, and the ones that he didn’t know he asked where they came from and hoped he could meet them at a convention one day so he could hug on them. So be warned – Mister J is a man of his word!

Korda Studios is perched at the top of an incline on a small side road, and as we drove towards it I could see the half-finished entrance to the left – the studios won’t actually be finished until April, 2008 – but we drove around to the side, through a security gate and onto the back lot. There 3rd AD Nick was waiting for us outside the trailer park, set up between the craft service tent, a bunch of generators and cables, and the enormous New York Street set, the back of which dominated the landscape beside the studios, a mass of scaffolding and struts three or four stories high at least.

Doug’s trailer was right next to Ron’s, and we dumped our bags then headed out for the cereal run. Stomachs filled, it was once again into the makeup trailer, to be met by Thom, Simon and the Beautiful Nora, who, as always, gave us her gorgeous smile and welcome.

Dougie and the Beautiful Nora

Once again we were treated to the awesomeness that is the makeup for Abe, but this time it was only Thom as Simon was busy unpacking appliances for, it turned out, another of Doug’s characters in the film – the creepy-as-all-get-out Angel of Death. Thom and I chatted about all sorts of things, and discussed the merits of the Hand of Glory, a fun but gruesome requirement for any self-respecting robber in far earlier, less squeamish times. A Hand of Glory is the desiccated hand of an executed and gibbeted man, which would magically open any lock. If the tallow of the hanged man was made into a candle and inserted between the fingers of the hand, it had the added and welcome benefit of making occupants of the house insensible. Very handy, if you’ll excuse the pun. This all came about because of a deep discussion Simon and I had earlier in the week about a knife made of a Cassowary bone. Cool stuff. Well, you had to be there, if you get my drift.

While we talked, Doug had his customary bowl of fruit salad, and dozed while listening to a mutual favourite – Alan Ritchson, a young actor and singer whose music delights both of us. His ‘Guppy’ is my song of choice on my MySpace page. A wonderful singer, who also played ‘Aquaman’ on Smallville. These fishy guys get everywhere, y’know?

By 6:30pm Doug was finished, Dresser Mike arrived to get him into his Abe gear, and Pat and I headed out for breakfast at craft service. Once again, the place was swarming with cast and crew, but this time there were quite a few dangerous-looking fellows in black suits and overcoats, smart, slick and official-looking. But we had a heap of most excellent food to distract us, and as we cleared our plates and cutlery I noticed a familiar face. I tapped Pat on the shoulder.

“That’s Bart!” I said.

Bart Mixon, with whom I had been corresponding for some weeks and who was keen to see us while we were in Hungary. Bart is another of these amazing people who does makeup – he had been with Rick Baker on the first Hellboy film, working on Ron, and this time he was with Spectral Motion, doing the beautiful makeup on Luke Goss, who plays the villain of the story, Prince Nuada of the Silverlance. Pat was also keen to speak to Bart as he worked with Ron on Primal Force, a fan favourite, and Star Trek: Nemesis in which he did the Reman makeup. We accosted dear Bart, who is just delightful, and we chatted for a wee while before promising to touch base with him on set, as he had a cameo appearance as a mechanic.

Heading out of craft service, we were met with a beautiful sight – the sun setting over the trailer park and the fields beyond. A truly sublime moment, and one I will not forget anytime soon.

budapestsunset2.jpg

As we turned around the corner to the gap between Doug’s and Ron’s trailers, we saw Simon still bringing in boxes. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of him.

Simon Webber of Spectral Motion

We settled down in the trailer with Doug, who was ready to go in his BPRD outfit and wearing a warm parka, and he checked the ‘sides’ as usual to see if he had dialogue. Yep – this time he did. He read through it all a couple of times, and then handed the pages to me, who had the daunting task of running his lines with him. Gulp. Oh well – it’s a good job I never had any aspirations to become an actor. Within a couple of minutes Doug was word-perfect, and I could wipe the sweat from my brow.

At 7:15pm, Adorable Ben knocked on the trailer door, saying it was time for Doug to head out to the set. Now here was a dilemma – should we take the little golf-cart thingy to the set, or just walk there? Hmmm … decisions, decisions … but before we could make our collective minds up, we were sidetracked by the arrival of Selma Blair, also heading onto the set. We had met her sweet little one-eyed Wink dog earlier, hanging out with Nigel and his handler. Doug introduced us to Selma, who flung her arms around me for a hug.

“I’ve heard so much about you!” she said, smiling. Oh dear …

Anyway, Selma was just completely gorgeous … a very beautiful young woman with a droll and utterly charming sense of humour. We talked for a few minutes about the success of Hellboy Animated, and the hopes for a third film. She hadn’t known that Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms had been Emmy-nominated, and she even admitted she hadn’t had any chance at all to see either of the films yet due to her hefty work schedules. We reassured her that they were both very good, especially Blood and Iron, and she grinned with relief.

Her look in this film is very different from the Liz Sherman of the first Hellboy movie … sleeker, sharper … different hair (which suits her very well) and a nod to the Liz of the comics with a large crucifix at her throat. This Liz is more self-assured, more comfortable and in control of her powers, although she has a lot to deal with in this film.

The Adorable Ben reminded us gently that we had to be on set, like now, and Doug decided to walk there – so we accompanied him through the increasing darkness. Stepping over cables and wandering between trailers, we made our way towards the huge wall of scaffolding before us. Heading for a gap in that wall, we finally, within a few steps, walked from Eastern Europe to a completely different world … a dingy downtown street in New York, complete with gently steaming manhole covers, yellow cabs and NYPD cruisers.

The whole set is completely, gobsmackingly HUGE.

I managed a quick wander about before rehearsals began, and, as always, marvelled at the detail. Dead plants on run-down balconies … graffiti all over the place … newspaper vending machines complete with headlines of the day. And bang in the foreground was a very large, extremely shiny and officious-looking garbage truck.

GdT and Navarro were already set up and ready to rehearse the scenes, so Pat and I, now being old hands at all this movie-making lark, quickly sussed out where we could stand and stay out of shot and not be in the way of lighting equipment and the like. Our location was also right next door to a convenient bench for sitting on. Egad, we were getting good at all this! There was hot honeyed tea to be had too, and it was much appreciated as the night was turning pretty cool.

We stood about for a few minutes chatting to John Alexander, this time already kitted out as Johann apart from the head (Helmet? Glass bubble?). John grinned at me from beneath his baseball cap.

“Well? What do you think?” he asked, gesturing at the getup.

I stepped back and checked out the suit. Now, if you’re expecting a full and detailed description of Johann Krauss, you can think again – no details, folks. I can’t tell you everything, now can I? However … hmm … let me think … brown heavy canvas, leather, and metal bits and pieces that faintly clicked and clanked when John moved about, valves … I just geeked out on the spot. But I still hadn’t seen the head bit – that was going to be the clincher – or not. Johann’s headpiece in the BPRD comics is a wonderfully blank bowl with a vent as a mouthpiece, so I was curious to see what the design wallahs had come up with – and John told me that they had been very inventive at the start, when he was brought in to see drawings and maquettes of his character. There is also a bonelessness to Johann in the comics that I was pretty sure they couldn’t reproduce in the film, but as far as I was concerned at this point I was happy enough with the translation from page to screen. I would finally see ALL of Johann when the camera rolled on this scene.

Suddenly the set was awash with men in black suits. Ah-hah! It clicked in my teeny-tiny brain who they were – BPRD agents. The guys from the craft service tent. Check.

Bart Mixon joined us, already in his baseball cap and mechanic’s overalls, ready for his scene later on. We chatted for a bit about his work, and he told us about his dad’s FX museum in Texas, where he displays all of the wonderful prosthetic designs that Bart has done through the years. Bart’s twin brother is also in the business, but instead of prosthetics he’s into visual FX – good ol’ CGI. We also talked about his work not only on the Hellboy movies but also on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, in which he did the makeup on Ben Grimm, The Thing, played by Michael Chiklis. I told him I thought the design was terrific, so incredibly expressive. Lovely stuff. Bart is a HUGE comic book fan, especially of Jack Kirby, and he told me – albeit with a big smile on his face – about his dislike of the fact that the movie Silver Surfer had ears. But despite that, we both geeked away merrily, chatting about Spectral Motion’s gorgeous – gorgeous – suit for Doug as the Surfer, designed by the brilliant Jose Fernandez. Keep your eyes peeled for Bart – and if you look closely, you’ll see a familiar name on his overalls – J. Kirby.

Rehearsals were finally under way, which involved moving stuff out of the garbage truck, with lots of BPRD agents milling about along with Hellboy, Liz, Abe, Johann and Manning. Yes, Jeffrey was on set. To my great regret, time was such that we never got to meet him. Maybe on Hellboy III??? Ah, a gal can dream …

I had seen several large BPRD containers being shunted about in the parking lot, and here they were being unloaded from the truck. All of this involved quite a bit of choreography and practice, and then HB, Abe and Johann had a little scene together. Although I was a wee bit too far away to hear the dialogue clearly, I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it was to see the rapport between the three of them. Truly Big Red and Brother Blue back together again, with a mild-mannered German scientist who just so happens to be ectoplasm in a bag, sandwiched between them. I had to laugh as Ron/Hellboy sauntered away from them making ‘blah-blah-blah’ gestures with his hand. I tell ya, the dialogue in this film is just delicious!

At this point all three actors were working in basic outfits and their parkas, as this was just a rehearsal, but after an hour or so Guillermo was ready to shoot.

Cue lots of activity getting Doug and John especially into the rest of their outfits. For Doug, it was eyes and goggles (I’d seen the eyes close up earlier in the day when Simon let me have a look at them – beautiful, beautiful things!), jacket, belt complete with sidearm, and finally Abe’s respirator. The whole outfit is somewhat different from the first film, but I liked it a lot. Simon stood by with the controls to operate the bubbles in the respirator, and Thom joined us to make sure Doug’s makeup was up to par.

When Doug joined us later in the evening, he asked me with a very Abe-ish tilt of his head “Well? I look hot, huh.” I nodded and grinned. “Ohhhh yeah … hottest fishstick I ever saw.”

And John? Well, finally, we got to see all of Johann. John has to have the suit built onto him, in a way, and the head is no exception … lots of fitting and screws being tightened and so on. It is different from the comics, there’s no question about that, but it works – oh yes indeed! I loved it. Considering Johann is just an entity in a suit, it conveys a lot of character, and John’s finely nuanced movements were just the icing on the cake. And there are animatronics involved too, with all of the little quirky fiddly stuff Guillermo likes, so don’t worry – Johann is going to be quite a presence in this film!

Ron slipped into his leather duster and buckled on his belt with the Samaritan already holstered, acquired a tail, added on the Right Hand of Doom and was ready to go.

“BRING ON THE CARS!” hollered Guillermo.

His trusty assistant Russell shooed us all back onto the sidewalk for safety, and everything clicked into action. There were pickups, jeeps, Chevys and yellow cabs, plus an NYPD cruiser for good measure, all slowly creeping onto the set and into position. All of the drivers, as far as I’m aware, were Hungarian, so instructions were translated for them via walkie-talkie.

In fact, as the evening went on, I was continually astonished at what a polyglot environment it was – I heard, in perhaps the space of two minutes, Hungarian, German, Czech, Spanish and so many different voices speaking English, both American and British. Yet at no time did there seem to be a breakdown in communications, whether it was Navarro yelling instructions in Spanish to his Dream Team or a bunch of BPRD agents laughing over cups of honeyed tea, talking in Hungarian and Czech. Sometimes you would hear Ron’s deep, rumbling chuckle and New York-tinged words, or Guillermo’s utterly charming Mexican accent discussing something with Russell … Doug’s infectious laugh would reply to a dry comment from Simon, English through and through … soft-spoken American Thom Floutz talking to Texan Bart Mixon about their time in Vancouver working on Silver Surfer or on Kelsey Grammer’s Beast in X-Men 3… Ron’s photo double Attila Molnar from the Czech Republic chatting to one of his countrymen on the crew … Pat’s soft Welsh accent answering John Alexander’s humour-laced British tones … so many voices.

But I digress.

Guillermo is known for his preference for moving shots, and this film is no exception – there is a crane shot as a small crane carrying camera and operator moves in from the left, so once that is set up, GdT cues the cars via Russell and the translator, and yells … ACTION!!!

Extras swing into motion, cars slowly create the impression of traffic, and a big shiny garbage truck disgorges a bunch of black-coated grim-looking men pushing BIG cases with the BPRD logo on the side, a slender girl in big boots, a tall, officious-looking gentleman in a flat cap, a blue fish-guy, a strange-looking fellow in a baggy canvas suit but minus a face, and last of all, a big, gruff red demon with shaved down horns, a huge stone hand and a tail, griping as only big red demons with shaved-down horns, huge stone hand and a tail can do.

One of the FX team, Tim ‘Gore’ Larsen, who also worked on the Surfer suit for Doug, has a cameo in this scene, so if you see a tough-lookin’ bearded fellow with piercings and tattoos yelling abuse at Hellboy in the movie, that’s Tim – one of the sweetest, nicest guys you could ever wish to meet … and also one of the most talented artists in the business.

For the next hour and more, we watch as GdT tweaks the scene, changing not only Tim’s lines, but also Doug’s. Well, all that acting angst I dredged up back in the trailer running lines was for naught. Sigh. That’s my burgeoning acting career down the proverbial drain. Yeah, right …

We also had the pleasure of Ron’s company during a break between takes, as he wandered over to say Hi. You can read about that meeting over on Pat’s report on The Perlman Pages.

It was between all of these takes as they reset, that I saw Johann walking past. Huh? But … but Johann’s over there … in the scene … with Doug and everyone!!! Isn’t he????

The figure turned around and smiled.

“Hi,” he says from a totally unfamiliar face. “I’m James Dodd.”

“Ahhh,” says I, “that explains it!”

Doug had mentioned Mr. Dodd earlier on in the blog here.

James, a thoroughly charming and handsome young British actor, is sharing the performance of Johann with John Alexander. The reason? John is playing two parts in the film, and scheduling is such that James was asked to fill in the breach. I would have dearly loved to have taken a picture of John and James together in their suits, but sadly … no cameras allowed. Maybe when the film is released we’ll get to see them together. Uncanny stuff.  Oh, and the other character John’s playing? You’ll just have to wait and see – he’s quite a fellow, I can tell you!

Finally, the scene was in the can and it was time to break for lunch. It was midnight, and we were getting hungry. So we headed back to Doug’s trailer and prepared to eat a hot meal to warm us up. I’ll break off here for now, and continue the story later – but stay tuned – there is a LOT more to come

BIG LOVE!!! – Webmaster Helen

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Comments»

1. Katie - October 24, 2007

And before anyone asks, yes, I read out every single one.

Hey, didja… oh wait, never mind!

Hehehehe, sounds like alot of fun! I’m so insanely jealous.

By the way… ‘hug on you’? ‘hat doesn’t sound grammatically correct to me. Sounds more like Doug getting ready to hug someone by complete surprise. D=

2. Gary - October 24, 2007

Thank you.Helen!Thank you!!!It’s like I’m there with you and Pat….(I wish I was)I cannot wait for the next installment!Big Hug!

3. hellmistress - October 24, 2007

Oh yeah – Doug ‘hugs on you.’ Just you wait until he hugs on you and Mid Ohio Con! LOL!

HM

4. AleraBeth - October 24, 2007

Yay I can’t wait for December SacCon!
Seriously though, Dougie gives the best hugs!

5. Daniel - October 24, 2007

Nice pictures. good article 🙂

6. Laura - October 25, 2007

I’ve read Pat’s blog and I’m so jealous that she hug Ron..but we asked for a hug from all of us.. Great blog and I can’t imagine what have you feel on the set. Thank you for this beautiful and interesting news!!!

7. Madam Lash - October 26, 2007

Just got back from a fantastic week of camping and hiking, and your latest blog update was waiting to be read and thoroughly enjoyed (and it was).

I have yet another week of camping coming up and therefore expect to see a further update upon my return to ‘civilisation’, so consider the whip cracked….!

8. JP - October 27, 2007

Hi Doug,
Fun to read Helen’s great posts, though I miss your ones… But I guess it must be tough with your shooting schedule.
I was wondering, are your friends Monste and David from DDT working on the show as they did last time? Back in January I had the pleasure to have a beer and a chat with them in London – such nice people!
Cheers to all from France.

9. Abby - October 29, 2007

Hello!
I’ve been a fan of yours for quite a while, and have really enjoyed reading about all of your (and now Helen’s!) adventures on the far side of the world. It’s brightened up my Monday morning!

I know you must be very tired from it all, but it’s very clear that you’re portraying a character you enjoy and are surrounded by people you love, so I hope the strain is balanced out by a lot of good.

10. Emma H - November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween Mr and Mrs Jones, Helen, Pat and all others.

11. Emma H - November 1, 2007

Sorry its still Oct 31st where i’m from
Eat lots of candy 🙂 😉

12. CosmicAvatar - November 1, 2007

Arghhh, it all sounds awesome. I can’t wait to see the final product – I’ll be dragging my (willing) friends to see it, that’s for sure.

13. Monica from far away Norway - November 1, 2007

You’re such a good writer, (Doug is too) and it’s a real pleasure reading. I almost feel like I’m there. Hope you’re having a good time, though I’m pretty sure you are.


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