Doug Jones Interviewed – ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’

     January 3, 2007

As I wrote in my intro to the Guillermo interview… I hate when people ask me what was yourfavorite film of the year. How can you rate one piece of great art over anotherone? I love when people just list their ten favorites in no particular order,just acknowledging that the ones on the list are the ones that really movedyou.

And while I hate saying anything wasmy favorite, if I had to choose one, Pan’s Labyrinth would be at the topof my list. No other film hit me like Pans did. Guillermo Del Toro hasdone what I always thought was impossible, make a believable fairy tale foradults. I bought into Pans from frame one, and as the movie ended, I sat therein stunned silence at the unbelievable accomplishment that was put on screen.

Pan’s Labyrinth is without question worth yourtime and money, and while it might be hard to find as it’s a “foreign” film,when it gets nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in late January, you canexpect it to be playing in more cinemas.

Seek out this film, it is withoutquestion one of the best of 2006.

And now the reason we are here,the Doug Jones interview. It was done via roundtable a few weeks back and hetalks a lot about what it’s like to be in costume and all the challenges thatgo with it. He plays two different creatures in Pan’s and both look amazing onscreen. And if that’s not enough reason to read this interview, he also talks abit about his role in Fantastic Four 2, where he plays the Silver Surfer!

Are youhappy to be the guy in costume?

Always. I mean , yes. I’m happy tohave a job always but I’m really happy to be working for Guillermo Del Toro anytime. You just talked to him, isn’t he wonderful? Don’t you love that man? Ijust adore him.

Do youprefer heavy makeup or CGI dots?

Well, to this day, I’ve never doneCGI dots for motion capture. I just finished a job where everyone thoughtthat’s what I did and that is not exactly the case.

Wouldthat job involve silver stuff?

Mm-hmm, perhaps.

What canyou tell us about Silver Surfer?

The good thing is that somebodyfrom MTV put a story out, they were doing a set visit and they told somethingthey probably shouldn’t have and that’s when I walked on set, they said, ‘Andthen Silver Surfer walked in the studio door. The hush fell over the crowd’ orwhatever he said. But he reported that the Silver Surfer was dressed in darkgrey muscle and shrouded in a black hooded cape to keep him from the public orsomething like that. So that’s out there now so I’m not telling any tales outof school by reporting what he said, am I? You didn’t hear that from me, youheard it from MTV, okay? But I would be remiss if I said it’s just that. 20thCentury Fox really is spending a lot of money putting together the very bestvisual effects done by WETA with the very best practical effects done bySpectral Motion to create a look that is really going to stun you on film. Heis absolutely, I’m not kidding. He’s stunningly gorgeous.

You’veseen it?

I saw a test at the early stageand it was like drop dead oh my gosh, this is going to make the fans wetthemselves. Yeah, you are.

Talkabout speaking Spanish?

The fact that I don’t speakSpanish? Well, sure. When I first got the script and the request from GuillermoDel Toro to please be in this film, consider this film, read this script, whichby the way was a huge compliment. I’d already worked with him twice before,once on Mimic and once on Hellboy, so we had a relationship established. Andwhen he sends me an e-mail saying, ‘You must be in this film. No one else canplay this part but you,’ you tend to perk up your ears and listen. Okay, what’sthe script? So I read it within hours of getting it and it was such a- – Icouldn’t put it down. I turned the last page closed, wiped a tear and said, ‘Ido have to be in this movie.’ I read an English translation of it, so I wasn’tin the Spanish mode yet. I was like, ‘Oh, what a great story. What greatcharacters. Ah.’ Then I went back to the e-mail where he was like ‘da da da dait’s going to be in Spanish.’ It’s going to be in Spanish!? Oh no. So I’mtelling him, ‘What do you mean no one else can play this but me? There’s a tonof Spanish actors who know Spanish.’ So I was terrified and he assured me thateveryone would be fine, we’ll get a voice over actor if you just want to countto 10, just do it in the right pausing, in the right mode and move, give me theright feeling. I can’t count to 10. I can’t do that to him. So he also talkedabout learning Spanish phonetically. I’m like what does that mean,phonetically? So he put together, he said, ‘For instance, if you want to seblah blah blah in Spanish, you might say the cheese cup fart.’ It’s a soundslike game, the phonetic thing, a string of English words together that arenonsensical but you at least know the English words and can remember them, andthen it forms a sentence in Spanish that makes sense. Well, to me, that form ofmemorization was even harder than just going to the page and learning theSpanish which is what I did. It’s an ancient form of Spanish. Is that moredifficult than the contemporary? I don’t know, I don’t know either one. Itdoesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.

Whileshooting, did he stop when you’d get something wrong?

I’m gonna pat myself on the backhere and say that I did a damn good job, okay? I really, really buckled downand committed myself to learning that word for word and I got the pronunciationsemi right before I even went in. They offered me a dialect coach that couldhelp me form my words and I said, ‘No, let me try this on my own.’ I got proudabout it, you know. I had five hours of time every day getting into the Panmakeup and costume and mechanics. It was quite a multi-faceted process tobecome Pan from head to toe. So they would hear my dialogue over and over. Wehad five hours for me to practice the scene today, didn’t we? So one of themwould pick up the script while they weren’t doing something and read the otherlines with me. And if I was pronouncing something horribly wrong, they wouldcorrect me. So that’s pretty much- – some words in Spanish are like sevensyllables long for one word. I went go-lly. So knowing where to put the punchor the accent on that was like please help me, please help me, please help me.

When hesent the script, did he also want you for the pale man?

He did. He mentioned the pale manin that first e-mail as well and I thought, ‘Oh right, you cheap ass. You’vegot me in Spain,you want me for free, you get a second character out of me. Right.’ But afterseeing the film and seeing how it all came together, I’m looking at it and Ican see like, ‘Okay, if Pan is creating these tests for Ofelia to pass to claimher birthright or whatever, could the Pale Man not be a creation of Pan?’Anything’s possible in this world that he’s from. So I looked at it that wayand then it made sense on film. It’s like I can see why Guillermo wanted- -Guillermo doesn’t make any decisions that aren’t really calculated, so to haveme play both parts was something that he had in mind. And I didn’t want to asktoo many questions even to get like back-story, to dig into his reasoningbecause that might ruin it for me if I know too much. I really trust that man. Ifhe wanted me to take a crap on film, I would take that crap and I would knowthat he would form it into some piece of art that would be gorgeous and we’d bewinning awards next year for it.

The twocreatures carry themselves so differently, was that your creation?

Yes and no. it was collaborative.With Guillermo, what he does is he directs me ahead of time. We get togetherand we meet and he will give me physical quirks and characteristics he’d liketo see along with character development ideas and what not. I get to go homeand put my own spin on that and practice that and rehearse that, go in front ofmirrors at the gym and get posturing and movement. And then also when doing thedialogue as well, putting my own spin on that as well. So Pan was interestingtoo because he aged backwards. I don’t know if any of you caught that when yousaw the film. The first time you see him, he’s a big grayer, his hair. One ofhis ram horns is kind of eaten away at the end and his whole coloration, and Iwas carrying myself a little bit more hunched, my steps weren’t as smooth. Bythe end, he’s auburn hair, his horns are completed and shiny and he’s moreerect and fluid. So that was a subtlety that again, I didn’t even askquestions. I just said, ‘He’s aging backwards. For some reason, I’m gonna gowith this.’ But to me, he might have gotten younger and stronger and more fluidand more powerful as the movie goes on because if this is a part of Ofelia’simagination, we don’t even know for sure is it real or is it imaginary, if itis, she’s depending more on this fantasy life throughout every step of the wayin the movie because her reality is getting worse and worse. Her mom’s gettingmore real, her step dad’s getting more and more evil. Death is happening, theCivil War is escalating. So she needs to retreat away from this more and moreso Pan becomes more vivid and more real and more colorful. That’s what it meantto me anyway. But I wasn’t answering your question, was I? The physicalitydifference between the two. The Pale Man evolved as well. At first, Guillermoeven thought that he should maybe have a gallop to him of some sort, that isfast and terrifying in a you can’t get away from me sort of way. But what heevolved into is what you saw on film where he’s creepy, crawly and has a stiffI’ve been asleep for a long time sort of walk to him. But he’s still scary. Andhe’s moving slower. Ivana was running down the hallway much faster than I wascoming after, but it was terrifying somehow because it’s like as I interpretit, he’s in his own chamber and when children get in there, they don’t go out.So he had all day. I’ll find her eventually, right? She’ll tire. So that’s howI looked at it. But of course, she finds a way to outfox him. So yeah, but if youlook at those two characters, you may not know that it was one person playingboth of them but I don’t know.

Being onset with Ivana, eating in costume?

Well, I couldn’t sit in aconventional chair. When I was in the Pan, the leg contraption was quiteelaborate. They CGed part of my leg out with the green screen wrapped around myleg and other parts of leg built around that. Very complicated and with the ramhorns on the head, to hold my head up was like ugh, I can’t take it anymore. Itwas heavy. So to rest, they had like a bar thing with a bicycle seat sort ofthing on it and a tee bar this way that I could rest my head on forward. Icouldn’t lean back on it but I could lean forward. So it was this one position.That’s all I could. I would eat but then I’d be like, oh, yeah, yeah, then putmy head forward again. It was really a labor of love, can we talk about it?

Whichsuit took longer to get into?

They were both about five hours.Pan came together glue-wise and makeup-wise a little bit faster but themechanics were something that had to be plugged in. A lot of things had to workin concert with them together and with puppeteers operating half my face andall so he had many various elements that had to be screwed on mechanically andzippered and pinned and snapped and Velcroed. The Pale Man was more of a gluedown job and color blending that had to happen with silicon pieces. Pan wasmostly foam latex and the Pale Man was silicon because it had to get the littlewartle. Silicon has much more of a lifelike movement to it and he was piece bypiece glued on. In fact, he was so elaborately glued together that during thefive days- – it was a five day Monday through Friday shoot that they hadplanned for the Pale Man sequence to be completed. It turned into a four dayshoot for me because I went home the first day with diarrhea. I was drinkingthe tap water and they had a little issue with their something somethingbacteria, I don’t know. Anyway, so in order to get those last four days tohappen, I had to- – well, I didn’t have to but they were going to release me atnight and bring me back the next day with only like three hours of sleep. Inorder to get more sleep for me and for the makeup team, I wore a lot of thePale Man back to the hotel. I didn’t tell anybody this during the shoot becauseI knew that Guillermo would have my hide for it because he wants me to relaxand out of this all. But I had them take my head and neck off and my hands offbut leave the arms and the torso on. The legs came on, the Pale Man legs werereally thin and bony. Yes, I’m thin and bony, yes, but those were like actualbones with skin dangling off of them. I was wearing the complete makeup aroundmy torso but it would blend into the bony legs that were attached to the frontof me with my legs in green screen color. So they could take those off prettyeasily too with the drop of my pants, which I did a lot that week. But thisglued on bit, it takes hours. They would wrap me in saran wrap so that theflaps wouldn’t stick to themselves or to my sheets, oh God. So labor of love.Have I said that before? Yeah, yeah.

Yousacrifice for your craft?

I sacrificed a lot and I’m happyto sacrifice a lot for a craft that involves Guillermo Del Toro honestly. To behonest with you, and I’m not just blowing smoke. I love that man and I lovedhis work. I think he was just telling you at the end when I walked in here onhim about the difference between independent film and studio film. And whenhe’s doing an independent project like this, he’s set free to create thesculpture completely on his own. And that’s when this true, beautiful arthappens. So knowing that and taking the cut in salary to do this job and whatwe all did to make this movie happen was well worth it. I’m so happy to besitting here talking with you now, with the Golden Globe nomination for thefilm and hopefully an Oscar nomination on the way and all the other awards it’sbeen winning. It deserves that and I’m really proud to be a part of it.

Hellboy2, what’s up for Abe?

I am very excited about what’s upfor Abe. I’m currently in negotiations now with my own personal contract so Ican’t say it’s a done deal yet but I’m very hopeful that we’ll come to terms.When that happens, I’m told that- – I have a script waiting for me at homeright now. I’ve been up in Vancouver.I just got home this morning. I did a night shoot last night, I was wrapped forthe picture, good night, bye, that’s it for Doug and I got on a plane to cometalk to y’all. I haven’t been to bed yet. That’s why I’m talking crazy talk. ButI’m told that Abe is on a more equal playing level of Hellboy this time. He’sgot way more storyline, he has his hands on the bad guys and he might have alove interest. Not sure, but he might. So there’s a lot to look forward to.

What wasin Vancouver?

That was Fantastic Four: Rise ofthe Silver Surfer. Just wrapped this morning, like hours ago.

Don’t youwish he got his own movie?

I sure do and if all goes wellwith this one, that could be in the works, coming down the pipe, let’s hope.

Anytemptation to sleep in the whole costume to try to get more sleep?

I wore some Abe home too for thatexact same reason. It was just easier and saved a lot of time for all of us.

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