Interview

Interview

Doug Jones Talks 'Legion', 'Hobbit' and 'Frankenstein'

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Fan favorite Doug Jones is only in Legion for about 90 seconds, but his role as a demonic ice cream man is the 90 creepiest seconds of the film.   Of course he has loads of other awesome projects in the works to chat about.  In addition to zombie webisodes and butcher slasher movies, Doug updated us (along with a handful of other journos) yesterday on his involvement in Guillermo del Toro's The Hobbit and Frankenstein -- among other upcoming films -- and tells us how he reconciles his own religious beliefs with Legion's apocalyptic storyline. Read what Jones told us after the jump.

Spoiler alert!

Can you tell us how you reconciled your own Christian beliefs with those in the script?

I am in 90 seconds of the movie – but it is a very crucial 90 seconds.  When I read the script, I knew my name and face and Christian background were coming into this, for an audience that knows all about me.  I had some concerns that God was presented as a bad guy, and the "good guys" were these people that were fighting back.  I thought my mom would crucify me if I did this film.  I spoke to Scott Stewart, our director – who came looking for me specifically for this cameo – and I posed these questions to him.  I wanted to know what his vision for the film was.  He said he wasn't trying to question or challenge anyone's religion.  He told me he comes from a Jewish background.  He was telling this story from an Old Testament standpoint.  As a Christian, I believe in a New Testament as well.  But from an Old Testament perspective, we have a wrathful God.  There are many stories in the Old Testament that were quite violent.  He posed this question to me: if we were living in Old Testament times today, would humanity be in a place where we deserve another flood?  As I look around, I thought, "Hmm, maybe we are due for a good cleansing."  That is the template that Legion is told in – as explained to me.  So the flood is a legion of angels, coming to earth to destroy humanity.

My character, the Ice Cream Man, is one of the first raindrops in that flood.  After the old woman in the diner – which I think is the freakiest part of the whole film – I am the next raindrop, and I bring the flood. 

When you got to the end of the script, were you more comfortable with the questions you had at the beginning?

I believe they  actually did a reshoot on the ending of the film, which offers even more hope for someone with my background.  Michael says to Gabriel, "You did what God said; I did what God needed."  That was added to the film later, and I think it really gives a hopeful ending.  Rewrites like that often happen because that was the director's vision all along, but the way to express it hit him later.

When we see the Ice Cream Man, how much of that is you contorting, and how much of that is prosthetic?

What you see in the film is me getting out of the ice cream truck, looking like Doug Jones.  That is why Scott came looking for me – he wanted to give the fan boys who know me under rubber a chance to see my face in this kind of genre film.  When I start the transition, CG takes my jaw down to my chest.  When they cut angles, then it is me with a prosthetic jaw.  The close-up of my arm growing was the old party gag, where you hold your sleeve and stretch your arm out.  In a close-up, it totally works!  Then in the full-body shots, I am wearing leg and arm extensions.  I had to work out for this role, running around on all fours in the extensions.

Were you manipulating two sets of stilts simultaneously to get that running on all fours effect?

Yes.  Something I tackle with every film I do is getting down the "eco-system" of the creature I am becoming.  How does he move, how does he work.

Have you done it enough at this point that you can get some speed on the stilts?

When I did my first few fittings with the extensions at the creature shop, I felt really taxed.  I was breathing heavy and I thought I was going to die!  So I got into shape for this very particular movement.  We did a couple takes with me running straight towards the camera, but I think what ended up making it on to screen was me running with a sidewinder look, where I am coming at the camera at an angle.  That was even more odd-looking, with limbs going every which way.

Is there more footage of you than what made it to the final film?

I don't think anything landed on the floor – I think they used every inch they had of me.  I was in New Mexico for the shoot for about three days.  I wasn't there long.  In my scene, most of the cast is on the roof of the diner and I'm down on the ground, by myself, so I didn't get to mingle with the cast much.  In fact, I've socialized with them more on the press junkets than anywhere else!

Guillermo del Toro has set up shop in New Zealand to work on The Hobbit.  Have you gone to visit him at all?

I have not.  My radar to Guillermo has been silent.  He is extremely busy and extremely sought-after right now.  He puts an email address out there, in public.  Whenever we do comic book conventions, he announces his email address.  So he has this huge property in the works, and everybody and their grandmother are emailing him to try to get on the film!  So he isn't writing back to me.  I wish I had news to tell you.

We keep waiting to hear what Doug Jones is going to play!

That's very sweet people are interested enough to ask about that.  Since it was announced that Guillermo will be directing The Hobbit, I have been asked almost every day! After four films with him, and the relationship I have with him professionally, people assume I will have a role.  I don't assume because I don't want to cash a check before it's written to me.  I would love to be part of such an epic story.  I have nothing more to go on than what he said on the red carpet at the Saturn Awards, a year and a half ago, which was, "If I direct a hemorrhoid commercial, Doug Jones will be in it."  So that is what I have to cling to.

What is going on with My Name Is Jerry?

My Name Is Jerry is a sweet little indie film that is a complete departure for me – it has nothing to do with the comic book/sci-fi genre.  It's a middle-aged white guy going through a midlife crisis.  It's on the film festival circuit right now, and doing very well.  We will probably have distribution by the end of the month.

What else have you shot recently?

Most of the stuff I have done recently is using my own face!  I have a mafia movie coming up, called Grey Scale – it will probably go direct to DVD.  I play a mafia hitman, so I got to wear a suit and tie and be kind of slick and wield a gun.  I play a ruthless killer with a smarmy sense of humor.  I loved doing that one.  I also did a horror film called Cyrus, about a horrific person who grinds people up and serves them up at a roadside diner.  I play a psychologist in that, who you, as an audience member, come visit every once in a while to have me explain the inner workings of a serial killer.

With the internet what it is now, I love the webisode world.  I have one coming up with D.B. Sweeny and Gary Graham called Universal Dead.  A zombie outbreak happens, and I play the scientist heading up the team that is finding out the reasons why.  It's got a nice twist to it – one of the best reasons for a zombie outbreak that I've ever seen.  The first one has not run yet.  We have shot three and I think there are a few more coming up.  I'm hitting that place in life, going from playing guys in rubber suits to guys in suits and ties and lab coats.  It's been really fun.  But the dialogue that comes with the doctor roles is a tad more intricate, a tad more difficult to memorize.

Anything on the voiceover front?

I just did a 60 minute film called Quantum Quest.  It had a humongous voice cast including Hayden Christiansen, a lot of people from Star Wars, Star Trek… anything with "star" in it.  I play two characters in it.  It is animated, and it is educational but also entertaining.  It is an IMAX film that is supposed to start in February.

Hulu.com will be running a faith-based short called The Dream, that I did the narration for.  I also did a fun little project called The Alphabet Sonnets.  It's like Dr. Seuss-like, lyrical sonnets based on the alphabet.  Every letter gets a little sing-songy poem. If you like Dr. Seuss, you'll like this.  It is actually going to become an iPhone application – we are hoping. 

Do the angels in Legion match up with your idea of angels?

Yeah.  The artwork that we have all grown up with of angels – floating around, limp-wrists, all that – that's nice and everything, but I believe angels come in all forms.  I believe there are the nice angels that will stroke your hair and sing you to sleep – I hope so – but if there are demons in your life that need their ass kicked, I hope there is a Paul Bettany out there defending me.

What about Frankenstein?  Any word on that?

We can be a bit more definite on that than we can on The Hobbit, because of Guillermo talking again.  Again, I have not talked to him directly, but while talking to the BBC, he went off on his plans to make his own Frankenstein, and how he wants me to be his Frankenstein's monster.  Through people we know, there was talk of a makeup test, which seems a bit premature, since we couldn't make this until after The Hobbit, which is like five years from now.

From what Guillermo has said on his own website message boards – and this is something I knew about him – is that the Frankenstein story, both the original book and the Boris Karloff movies, inspired him to want to do the movies he does today.  Monsters became a part of his childhood, which have become a part of his life.  Affectionately so.  So when he does get the chance to make this movie, this is going to be a pinnacle in his career.  He has wanted to do this project his entire life.  The version that Guillermo wants to base his Frankenstein on is the Bernie Wrightson Frankenstein.

When I first heard he wanted me for Frankenstein's monster, I wasn't sure how that could be.  I had the image of Karloff's Frankenstein, and I'm not broad-shouldered, lumbering guy.  But Wrightson's Frankenstein is a thinner, more sympathetic, and at times more pathetic creature who has a very intimate relationship with his creator.  From what Guillermo has said, he would like to explore that relationship more than the movies ever had.  He wants to explore the gut-wrenching emotion behind that relationship.  This could be a dream-come-true project, so let's knock on wood!

Did J. Michael Straczynski's script for Silver Surfer ever make it to you?

No.  I've been really out of the loop on that one.  There has been some talk on the webbernet about rebooting Fantastic Four.  It seems like it hasn't been so long since the first boot, but where that leaves me in the mix, I'm not sure.

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