Actor Ron Perlman is pleased to find that his alter-ego Hellboy hadn’t changed much in the four years between the first film and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
“It’s very much the same guy, except this time we’re seeing him circumstantially in a highly emotionally compromised state because the relationship with Liz is on the rocks and perhaps in danger of burning up, pardon the pun, right in front of him,” Perlman says. “And, of course, he does what Hellboy will do when he’s not sure whether he has a reason to live or not, he starts drinking heavily. And meanwhile, parenthetically, he’s got to go save the Earth from complete extinction — while he’s buzzed.”
Perlman is talking about the highlight scene of the film, opening July 11, in which Hellboy and Abe Sapien drown their troubles with women in a case of beer. “The more we did that the happier everybody got. It was almost like a wrap party,” he says. “The good news is I liked it every bit as much when I finally saw it Saturday night at the premiere.”
The character’s sense of humor is a primary attraction for Perlman, who describes Hellboy as the Dean Martin of superheroes. “To me far and away the most attractive aspect of Hellboy is the fact that he doesn’t take anything seriously.”
Playing Hellboy does have its drawbacks — namely the extensive makeup and costume process, which takes between three and a half to six hours to complete. Perlman says it’s still just a costume, though looking the part does put a little spring in his step when it’s all ready to go.
“I don’t think it really changes anything. I will tell you that when they finally zip up the last zipper and tie up the last shoelace and I start walking through the set, it’s like there’s a strut that I don’t have in real life,” he says.
Perlman says that even though it looks like he’s leaping through the air and throwing down punches with Luke Goss’s Prince Nuada, looks can be deceiving. “I spent most of them in an armchair. I didn’t have to learn anything,” he says. “I get thrown about a bit, but the question is, was it really me? Seamless, though, wasn’t it?”
There was less of a challenge in the film being a sequel as there was in living up to the vision that del Toro had for the film. “I think there was a huge amount of empowerment that took place by the whole Pan’s Labyrinth experience. I think that he truly, finally came to terms with the possibilities of cinema and now refuses to settle for anything less than exactly what it is he wants to do that he can think of and that he thinks is cool,” Perlman says. “Shooting a scene was far longer, but I don’t think that that had anything to do with the sequel, I just think that that was trying to realize this unbelievably epic world that Guillermo was depicting.”
Perlman, who says he’d happily reprise the role should there be a Hellboy III, recently completed work on The Job, Shem Bitterman’s adaptation of his own stage play; The Mutant Chronicles, a completed film in search of a distributor that will be screened at Comic-Con International this year; and a TV series for FX called Sons of Anarchy.