Romantic relationships can be the hardest part to sell in big summer blockbusters. But actress Selma Blair says that’s not a problem in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
“I completely bought my love story with Hellboy,” says Blair, who returns to play the sullen pyrokinetic Liz Sherman in the film, which opens July 11. “It made sense to me and it never seemed weird.”
A lot has changed in the sequel for Liz, who spent much of the first film fearing her powers and resisting the affections of Hellboy. This time, she’s more confident, though not necessarily happier — prompting Blair to change along with her character.
“It was strange to play it. I thought I knew Liz and I thought this would be a cakewalk,” Blair says. “I kept wanting to go back to the hesitant Liz I knew.”
The relationship between Liz and Hellboy is front and center in The Golden Army, with director Guillermo del Toro basing a lot of it on his own relationship experiences. The result, Blair says, is a relationship that — odd as it seems on the surface — really works at its core.
“Our relationship seemed like it made sense completely in this second one,” Blair says. “In the first one it seems Liz and Hellboy had a bond, and I was just waiting for it to move in this direction, that we’d be together.”
But romance is only part of the Hellboy formula, with action also being a high priority. Blair says one action sequence threw her for a loop, by requiring her to mimic firing a gun — something she’s experienced in real life but never had to think much about.
“I’m really good with a gun — my sister was a cop for 12 years or so and so she always taught me a lot of gun safety and everything because they were around the house. But I’ve never pretended to shoot a gun on camera,” she says, admitting that her initial attempts at faking it were unintentionally hilarious. “I had to just admit I’m not a very good action star. Doug (Jones) and I — Guillermo called us ‘Selma and Louise.’”
Blair says it was a welcome change to work again on a del Toro set, where most effects are practical instead of added later with CG. “You can really feel a difference between something that’s tactile 3-D and something that’s created digitally. We just know, our brains can sense it,” she says.
Her favorite set was the Troll Market. “I just had that sense of wonderment I had when I saw that ‘Star Wars’ cantina scene. It really was like, ‘Oh my god, I want to go see this over and over so I can pick out my favorite stuff.’ It really is a kid in a candy shop feeling, and I haven’t had that in a long time.”
Blair also says it was an odd experience to be one of the only normal-looking characters in a film where the rest of the cast is playing through elaborate costumes and makeup. “I didn’t realize it until we were halfway through the movie and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m the only face here!’” she says.
That put her out of synch with the rest of the cast during the intense schedule of the film, which shot mostly at night on six-day workweeks in Budapest, Hungary. “I’d be off shivering in a corner,” she says. “None of them were cold because they always had the prosthetics and they were usually sweating. So they were grateful when winter came around. (But in) summer, they were hating life.”
Blair is next starring with former Saturday Night Live star Molly Shannon on Kath & Kim, a comedy series set to debut on NBC this fall and based on an Australian TV show.
“My character is bordering on demented, she’s so annoying,” says Blair. “I recently married but I moved back in with my mom because my husband expects me to do things like microwave a dinner every once in a while. But I fancy myself a trophy wife, even though he works at the Best Buy. I’m a little bit delusional. “
She also appears in The Poker House, directed by Tank Girl star Lori Petty.
Blair says she hopes to eventually come back and do a Hellboy III. The end of The Golden Army sets up a huge change for Liz, and Blair is excited by del Toro’s plans for a third film — which likely will have to wait until the director finishes making his two Hobbit movies. “I hope it happens. I guess I’d better take my Geritol,” she says.