Hellboy: Selma Blair

Hellboy: Selma Blair
"Liz Sherman" talks with Horror.com about Prague, "Monkey Brain", and working with Ron.
Updated: 04-03-2004

She auditioned to play Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. She was the recipient of that famous girl/girl liplock in Cruel Intentions. She was recently inducted into whacky rock & roll royalty when she married Frank Zappa's son, Ahmet. Now, she is a fire-starting superhero in director Guillermo del Toro's long-awaited, much-anticipated Hellboy.

She is Selma Blair, and she talked to Horror.com about being in such a, um, "hot" role.

Q: You're quite the little pyro in Hellboy, aren't you? How did the fire effects work?

Selma Blair: I didn't have any green screens. I didn't have anything. The fire, I am a Firestarter, and so it was really [laughs]... I'm not a Firestarter in real life. No, but there was no green screens and so really I just had to imagine flames. It was so easy. And they added that in. So there was nothing, and my character doesn't kick ass in any other way. I wasn't harnessed or all these things that all these other actors were. I got a little gypped. So maybe in the sequel she will come into her own. She obviously comes into her own powers at the end of this one, so there's a lot of room in the sequel for me to come back.

A lot of this was shot on a special effects stage, wasn't it?

Yeah, there was a huge soundstage that were working in there, old factories. But a lot of the stuff was outside. It all passed for Brooklyn if you just framed out the castle I guess. There are castles everywhere there. It was pretty surreal. After a while it just felt like Disneyland. I had to remember like, this is the real city. We're not used to this in L.A. I'm not. It was just larger than life. But that also helped me. Jeffrey Tambor [who plays Dr. Tom Manning]  actually said to me one day, he was like, "Jesus Christ, you're actually becoming this character." Because Prague just put me in such a mindset. I just didn't look up much. It was "Oh. Oh, now I'll have another cigarette. I'll sit out here in this bar and have another cigarette."

Sounds like Prague was kind of depressing?

[No], Prague was gorgeous. I made some amazing friends there that I haven't talked to since the day I left. It was dark and gothic and really difficult to be there for me. It's an intense place. It's just so intense.

In Hellboy your character is the really heavy dramatic, intense one compared to everyone else. Of course, you're primarily known for comedy. Even in the context of slimy guys from outer space, you've kind of got to hold the dramatic center. How was that for you?

It was so great. 'Storytelling' was really the other movie where someone gave me a shot at playing the girl and a dramatic role that was also kind of funny at the same time. This is the first one. Liz doesn't really have any funny lines. She's just this presence, this kind of dramatic presence. And this is also so different for me because she's so still. I mean, she really doesn't need to do a lot because she's kind of this ideal of Hellboy that keeps things going. I didn't have a lot of action in any way in this, but it was amazing to get to be kind of a focus. It was lovely.

How hard is it to play somebody's who's very still?

Yeah, I think Liz is dramatic enough just on the page. Just her back story and just her presence, you kind of get a sense of her and that's really all that was needed. Hellboy is such a dynamic, amazing character, it was a bit humbling to go, "Okay, well, I'm here to be this ideal and I'm a really shut down woman," which was important, especially for the story, to go on. Yeah, I wasn't so hard, although I tend to eat a lot of sugar and get really spastic.

With all the comic book films that have come out recently, did you ever watch them and want play a character with superpowers?

Yeah, I did. I always thought more when they started thinking of doing Superman [a remake], I, of course was like, I'd love to play Lois Lane because I'd love to be a witness to someone having superpowers and searching for that and falling in love with that. It never occurred to me that anyone would let me actually embody a superpower. So that was a thrill that Guillermo let me do that. Of course, I loved X-Men and X-Men 2. I thought they were really dynamic, amazing movies, and I think all these comic book movies are so great because the stories are just such classic kind of biblical stories. Mythology and archetypal.

When you were making it, you said that you had no idea how it was going to look. And now that you've seen it, how do you think the special effects match what you did on screen?

I thought they did a magnificent job with the special effects. It was so amazing. I mean, Guillermo loves the monsters and everything being so fully realized already on set that there was so much to play off of for the actors that had to do that. But in regards to my fire and things like that, I could not believe how amazing these washes of fire were. I mean, it blew my mind. They did such an amazing job on this movie. It was so visually stunning, I thought.

When you were first cast, did they send you the comics to look over?

When I first met Guillermo he thrust at my hands all this artwork and anime stuff and just everything that ever inspired him. So I was really busy and then we decided to make Liz nothing. After all that work it was like, okay, all that passion and everything, now let's have Liz still. But it was nice to be on board what was in his mind. And I did read all the Hellboy stuff.

Had you ever read comics before?

I'd only read Neil Gaiman's. I'm a big fan of Death from Sandman. They're actually going to make a movie of Death.

Are you up for that?

Am I up for anything?

The High Cost of Living, right?

Yeah, the High Cost of Living, exactly. I would love to play Lois Lane. Good luck. I don't know. We'll see about all that. But I think Lois would be a great role for me.

Is your character in the comic book?

In the comic, in Seed of Destruction at least, she really isn't heavily featured. She is just kind of this female presence. Kind of a little tragic figure.

Is Hellboy in love with her?

Not so much. A little bit, people think maybe she's Abe's girl in the comic. I know people might have taken a little bit of issue with what Liz became, being a girl for Hellboy, because I think Hellboy might have had some sexier, like, crazy girl chicks in the comic. So I don't know if they thought Liz was a real match for him. But I know Mike Mignola [the author of the comics] was okay with this film having a life of his own. He fully signed off on that. And I think that should probably give the readers some rest saying their beloved creator said this is okay. Because I know how protective they all get, and I think with Guillermo being so involved with the fans from the beginning until now, forever, they'll probably be able to accept Liz a bit. She's a sweet girl.

Is it true that Guillermo called you "Monkey Brain" on the set?

I don't know quite how it happened. I didn't have the real ability to do two things at once in this movie, like say a line and actually give the look he wanted, apparently. And if I did have to do that, I don't know what happened or if I was so tired or what was going on or my long hair, the wig pulling on my brain, but I'd go cross-eyed. I don't know what happened. And he would just say, "Oh my god. Monkey Brain. Monkey Brain." And that was just it. It really stuck. Just Monkey Brain, which just is embarrassing. And I'm sure the job offers are going to come pouring in for a cross-eyed idiot! [laughs]

Have you had any experience yet with the fans of Hellboy and the comic? Have you done the convention circuit?

I did one convention, one comic convention in New Jersey, and I was told, "Oh my God, they're going to go crazy for you and you're blah blah blah." Crickets. Nothing. They could care less. It was all for Ron. And I thought, I'm a girl. These guys are supposed to like girls or be happy that a girl here... and nothing. I even wore a really tight skirt, and there was nothing. I got no love. No, it was all Ron. He has such a fan base there, I think from Beauty and the Beast as well and Blade and Cronos and all that stuff. So, yeah.

Since Liz wasn't prominent in the comic, how did you work with Guillermo and Mike on creating this character? What was he expecting from you?

God, I don't know what he was expecting. He still didn't say. I hope he got it. He cast me and I think just trusted I'd just do something. We both came up with her look together. It was just so open in the comic book. She just had dark hair and that was kind of it, and flames. So we kind of thought she came, her clothing was an amalgam of stuff that she got that was leftover at the BPRD [Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense], lost and found items. So she's just wearing layers of dark. So it wasn't a real big deal. We just went off the script and went with her being very scarred, to keep her very still until the moment when she would use her power, and then that would lead to, if there's a second one this huge arc of a girl coming into her womanhood. Keep your fingers crossed.

So you are definitely on board for the second one?

If they want me. Yeah.

You had a lot of chemistry with Rupert [Evans], and he hasn't done that much before. Can you talk about working with him?

I'm shocked that Rupert isn't here today. He was such a huge part of the movie. He was completely made up for the film. Rupert Evans, I think he had done a TV show in London and done some theater work. He was an amazing actor. So earnest, had such a quality. You just don't see that much coming from these L.A. boys. He was so lovely. I fell in love with Rupert. He was a very dear friend of mine there. And I think he did an amazing job as Agent Myers. Just so sweet, had such a sweetness that was so perfect against Hellboy's sarcasm. I think, don't you? He was sweet, huh?

Yes, he was. Is Hellboy the kind of movie you'd go see if you weren't in it?

Now it is. Originally, before I read the script and they were telling me the idea I was like, "Oh god, not really my type of movie, but because it's Guillermo I'm so interested in making this." And now I know I'd go see it, after being on that set and seeing all the passion involved in this and falling in love with everyone on it. And everything with special effects, I've become such a fan now of all that. But I would. It's a love story between this father and son and Hellboy's love for a girl. Yeah, misfits. I mean, it's all the stuff I like.

Can you talk about working with Ron Perlman?

Yeah. Working with Ron Perlman was a gift. He's incredibly -- I don't even know how to explain how much I appreciate his sense of humor. And he's just an amazing leading actor. He takes care of everyone on set. He has an amazing attitude. I think he's tremendously talented. Underused in everything.

But not in this.

Yeah, it's amazing to see him. I saw the movie the other night and I was so impressed and thrilled for him because he was perfect for Hellboy. I mean, just went beyond my expectations in everything he does. He's a true gentleman and a great spirit and a great actor. And I thought he was incredibly sexy as Hellboy.

Was it nice for you to have a choice between two men after all the movies you've done where you've lost the guy?

I know. It was amazing. Finally, I get the guy. And he has a tail and horns. Perfect for me. Yeah. I was so grateful to Guillermo to see me as a girl that anyone would fight over a bit, because that's really new for me. Yeah, it was nice.

Nice change.

Yeah. Art imitates life and all that. It was a lovely departure to not be the "other girl".

* * * * *

Click here to read more of our exclusive Hellboy coverage.

* * * * *

Interview by Staci Layne Wilson for Horror.com.

Hellboy Revolver
Hellboy Coverage Sponsored By Sideshow Collectibles

Latest User Comments: