Selma Blair Interview, Hellboy 2

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

We go 1 on 1 with Selma Blair and test her firey skills in an interview for Hellboy 2! MoviesOnline sat down to talk with Selma Blair at the Los Angeles press day for her new film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. With a signature blend of action, humor and character-based spectacle, the saga of the world’s toughest, kitten-loving hero continues to unfold in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Bigger muscle, badder weapons and more ungodly villains arrive in an epic vision of imagination from Oscar-nominated director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy).

After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it’s up to the planet’s toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it’s time to call in Hellboy (Ron Perlman).

Along with his expanding team in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense—pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), aquatic empath Abe (Doug Jones) and protoplasmic mystic Johann—the BPRD will travel between the surface strata and the unseen magical one, where creatures of fantasy become corporeal. And Hellboy, a creature of two worlds who’s accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons him.

One of today’s most exciting and versatile actors, Selma Blair first gained our attention for her performance in Cruel Intentions, a youthful retelling of the classic novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” Blair starred for two seasons as the title character in the WB’s Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane and then appeared in the hit comedy Legally Blonde, opposite Reese Witherspoon. She then starred opposite Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate in The Sweetest Thing and in two independent films that garnered her much critical acclaim: Dana Lustig’s Kill Me Later and Todd Solondz’s controversial Storytelling.

Blair starred in Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy and appeared in John Waters’ A Dirty Shame. Her other recent film credits include Paul Weitz’s In Good Company, with Topher Grace; Marcos Siega’s Pretty Persuasion; and Newton Thomas Sigel’s The Big Empty, with Elias Koteas. She was most recently seen co-starring opposite Greg Kinnear and Morgan Freeman in Robert Benton’s Feast of Love, and starring in Ed Burn’s Purple Violets and Tom Shankland’s Waz, opposite Stellan Skarsgard.

Blair will next star in George Gallo’s My Mom’s New Boyfriend, opposite Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan and Colin Hanks, and Lori Petty’s The Poker House. On the small screen, Blair will star opposite Molly Shannon in the NBC show Kath and Kim, based on the successful Australian show of the same name. The show is premiering in fall 2008.

Selma Blair is a fabulous person and we really appreciated her time. Here’s what she had to tell us about her new movie:

MoviesOnline: How was it playing the pyrotechnic girlfriend?

Selma Blair:  It can’t be bad.  It was good working with Guillermo.  It’s great working with Ron and he’s funny.  Both of them. It’s great.  I don’t want to be on fire in real life.  It’s not very practical in California [laughter].

MoviesOnline: In this film, Liz seems to come into her own as a full member of the team.

Selma Blair:  Yeah, Liz did.  In the first one, she had some hang-ups.  She had some baggage, mostly under her eyes, apparently [laughter], looking back at that.  But she was sad.  She was really sad.  Her powers led to a lot of destruction and in this one, she matured and she could use her power and she’s with Hellboy and she’s a really capable, functioning woman…still a little bit brooding but, definitely, she’s stronger.  It was strange to play it.  I thought I knew Liz and I thought “Oh, this will be a cakewalk.  I’ll just go back and I know Liz already” but it was strange playing her with a little more confidence.  I kept wanting to go back to the hesitant Liz I knew.

MoviesOnline: Guillermo said he modeled some of the fights (arguments) between Hellboy and Liz on his own life with his wife.  Did he talk about that with you?

Selma Blair: [laughs] Yeah.  I know that his relationship with Lorenza is so special.  It’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing.  I’m sure they also have come through many little arguments so I can only imagine.  Yeah, they’ve had little quarrels.  I think that there’s a lot of Hellboy in Guillermo as well so I can only imagine.

MoviesOnline: You are pretty much the only identifiable human on screen for a majority of the film and the closest thing to an ordinary person with whom we can sympathize.  Was that something you thought about consciously?

Selma Blair: Yeah, 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.”  It took me a while.  I don’t know what that says about me but I didn’t even notice it until there was one point when we were doing the Golden Army scene and that’s really the only CGI stuff in the movie, main CGI stuff.  Everything else was really there.  The monsters he actually created so there’s stuff to look at and I’m like “Where are you guys looking?”  And everyone’s kind of like “Oh, it doesn’t matter.  No one can see our eyes” and I was like “Oh my God, everyone can see my eyes and it really matters where I’m looking, what I’m doing.  Oh my God, I have a face!  I have a face you guys.”  So there was a moment of terror like “Oh my God.  I’m gonna be the one that’s gonna crap all over this movie if it’s bad.  I’m gonna be the mess.”

MoviesOnline: Do you find it helpful as an actor to have the real, practical creatures there on set?

Selma Blair:  Of course.  It adds such a sense of reality and, when you’re making such a fantastical movie like this, it can only help.  I mean, to really have Hellboy dressed up so realistically every day, it makes it so real.  When we did the first one, the first moment I stepped on set with him, I thought, “How am I gonna…do I touch this thing?  Does it make a noise?  Does it pop if I try and caress it?”  [laughter]  I didn’t know.  I’d never worked with a prosthetic boyfriend [laughter].  That doesn’t sound right.  I’m sure I have after all.  I didn’t know what to expect but then it was so life-like. This sounds so demented but it was so real.  Guillermo has put such love and effort into this monster-making that, after that first scene was done, the world that Guillermo helps to make, it’s all so real.  I completely bought my love story with Hellboy.  It made sense to me.  After that scene, it never seemed weird.  I never once questioned this person in a suit.  It never seemed like that.

MoviesOnline: Did you get any pre-viz or drawings of the little tooth fairies because they were CGI?

Selma Blair:  Well, there were a couple of practical ones there.  There were some references so you knew what they were like and I saw one of the tooth fairies when we were in the operating room in that scene.  We did that one before the auction house scene.

MoviesOnline: So you knew what was coming at you?

Selma Blair:  Yeah.

MoviesOnline: What was the most challenging scene?

Selma Blair:  Probably the most challenging sequence were some of the ones with the guns in the auction house because it was very embarrassing.  Even though I’m actually really good with a gun, my sister was a cop for twelve years, so she always taught me a lot of gun safety and everything so they were around the house, but I’ve never pretended to shoot a gun on camera because you actually don’t have bullets of course.  You’ll do a couple with blanks but the rest you’re really just miming it and it’s such a strange thing to shoot a gun and pretend like there’s kickback.  So, I’m not a very good mime.  I’m the pits, actually so it’s sloppy everywhere.  It was the worst.  I just had to admit I’m not a very good action star.  Doug and I… Guillermo called us “Selma and Louise” because the two of us….he looks like Barbarella in the background and I look like something.  I mean we just looked like the pits.  We were on the floor laughing at what little girls we looked like in the background with the guns.  Guillermo just thought he’d never get through that scene.

MoviesOnline: So you’ll need a loaded gun next time?

Selma Blair:  Yeah, exactly to shoot myself with.

MoviesOnline: What was your reaction when you saw the final film?

Selma Blair:  I thought the film was pretty epic.  I thought Guillermo really made an amazing film.  I can’t believe how successfully he covered all the bases.  Everything is in the film; love and death and amazing action sequences and war and monsters.  It’s incredible.

MoviesOnline: What’s the atmosphere like on a Guillermo set?  Is it kicking back between scenes?

Selma Blair:  It’s funny. There are so many different languages being spoken.  It’s pretty crazy that way.  We still have this Mexican crew.  There’s Spain, Mexico and Hungary and there’s some Czech crew people there from the first Hellboy so there’s all these different countries being represented on the set, American and British.  Guillermo is hysterical and then we always have Jeffrey Tambor singing and then we have Hellboy singing all the time.

MoviesOnline: What are they singing?

Selma Blair:  They are singing Frank Sinatra songs and old show tunes.  It’s so surreal to look over and there’s Hellboy crooning with a cigar.  It always blows my mind.  It’s fun.  It’s really fun.  It was an intense work schedule though, six-day weeks, mostly nights, so then I’d be off shivering in a corner somewhere and none of them would be cold because they always had on the prosthetics and they were usually sweating so they were grateful when winter came around.  Summer, they were hating life.

MoviesOnline: Were you mostly in Budapest?

Selma Blair:  We were in Budapest the whole time.

MoviesOnline: Your relationship with Hellboy grew in this one.  There’s a different dynamic.  Were you surprised by that?

Selma Blair:  No, it fell right into place.  Our relationship seemed like it made sense completely in the second one.  It was a stronger relationship.  I always knew it was headed that way.  In the first one it seemed that Liz and Hellboy had a bond and I was just waiting for it to move in this direction that we’d be together.

MoviesOnline: Since you know that Liz is carrying twins, did you, as an actress, carry yourself a little differently?

Selma Blair:  I always thought of that and Jeffrey Tambor would say that throughout the movie when I would say “I don’t know why I’m so emotional in this scene.”  I’d always want to go to tears all the time for every scene and Guillermo would say “Don’t cry, don’t cry.  Your character is stronger than that.”  He always had to kind of keep me from crying and I’d go “God, Jeffrey, why do I want to keep crying in this scene?” and he’d say “Because you’re carrying babies.”  Inside an actress you just have these little things of information.  Jeffrey would say, “Because you know you’re carrying children” and I was like “Oh, yeah, I guess so.”  But we didn’t want to bring the whole energy of the movie down by having Liz dropping tears all over the place because that movie’s just not really like that.  You just don’t need to cut to me with a gun like [she demonstrates heavy weeping] wha, wha.

MoviesOnline: Is there a certain job security knowing that in four years Guillermo will want to do Hellboy 3?

Selma Blair:  Yeah, God bless.  I hope it happens.  I guess I’d better take my Geritol.

MoviesOnline: Have you guys talked about it at all?

Selma Blair:  We haven’t really talked about it.  We’ve talked about what the storyline would be like in Hellboy 3 which excites me and I think Liz would have unendurable pain that she would go through and I’d like to see what Guillermo would bring to that.  The Angel of Death pretty much assures her of that which is kind of thrilling because Guillermo is such a master of raising the stakes of what something could be, what’s possible.  So I would love to see what that is but I don’t know.  It depends on the success of this movie.

MoviesOnline: Could you see yourself in “The Hobbit” movie?

Selma Blair:  I look like a boy but I am not a boy.

MoviesOnline: I think there are other characters.

Selma Blair:  I do not know.  But, unfortunately, I’m also on a TV show called “Kath and Kim” and I have no invitation to be in “The Hobbit” but I would love to be anywhere where Guillermo is but no, I have no plans.

MoviesOnline: Tell us a bit about the TV show.

Selma Blair:  it’s called “Kath and Kim” and Molly Shannon plays Kath.  I play Kim, mother/daughter NBC, starts in October, 9:30 after “The Office”.  See what a good saleswoman I’m getting to be?  I’m a real team player.  NBC has taught me well now.  It’s based on an Australian show of the same name.

MoviesOnline: What kind of relationship do they have?

Selma Blair:  It’s great.  They love each other very much.  My character is bordering on demented.  She’s so annoying.  Which is so much fun to play.  It surprises me how naturally it comes and how it does not leave me when they say “Cut” so now I have an excuse.  I’m like “I’m sorry.  It’s just so embedded in me now.”  I’m loud and whining but really love my mother but self-absorbed, tabloid-obsessed.  It takes place in Florida.  Mom is really positive and great and moving on with her life.  I recently married but 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 as a trophy wife even though he works at the Best Buy [laughter].  I’m a little bit delusional.  I think I look as good as I did when I was thirteen and I still wear the clothes to prove it even though I shouldn’t be at all.

MoviesOnline: Is it shot like a sitcom with an audience? 

Selma Blair:  No, it’s not.  It’s filmed like “The Office,” same style as “The Office” too.

MoviesOnline: How is the transition going from film to TV?

Selma Blair:  I’m not used to learning so many lines.  I have to tell you, it’s a lot of work, guys!  I like acting but not that much [laughing].  Geez.  It’s amazing.  I’m so grateful to have a job.  I’m so grateful to have a great job for a woman.  There wasn’t a lot of good material out there.  I was surprised.  I didn’t realize how little material on TV there was, a comedy for women.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to get one of them.  I don’t want it to go anywhere.  I wanna stay on that thing.  It’s a good transition.  I’m happy to be in L.A. for a while and I’m happy to be working with Molly on a show that I think has great writing, really, really good.  So, I’m enjoying it a lot.

MoviesOnline: Can you talk a little bit about working with Lori Petty in “The Poker House”?

Selma Blair: Lori is a really passionate woman.  She’s a great director.  She’s funny, so much fun to work with and the story “The Poker House” is based on some experiences that happened in her own life and I play the character of her mother.  I play a drug-addicted, abused prostitute.  Again, it came surprisingly naturally to me [laughs]. I’m just kidding, but it was an amazing character to play, unlike anything I’d played before and she made it so easy to play.  Working with someone who is a really talented actress made the role so much more.  I was a bit frightened to play someone who was so damaged at the time.  But it was really easy to play her with Lori at the helm.

MoviesOnline: Back to Hellboy is there any outtake where something went hysterically wrong that we’ll see on the DVD? Or anything funny?

Selma Blair:  God, I don’t know.  There wasn’t that much I can think of because we were working at such an intense pace because we had so little time to get so much done and it was six-day weeks, that there was actually so little time for clowning around or letting any mistakes happen because we needed to get it done.  It was a very kind of precise set.

MoviesOnline: Did any of your scenes get cut out that might appear on the DVD?

Selma Blair:  Not that I can think of. 

MoviesOnline: Did you have a favorite creature or monster in the film?

Selma Blair:  I didn’t see it at the time, but I loved it when I watched the movie.  I really liked that tumor baby. What’s wrong with me? [laughter].  I don’t want one, God.  I’m not putting it out there but my God, why do I think that was the cutest thing?  It was really funny. 

MoviesOnline: A favorite set?

Selma Blair:  The troll market.  Everyone was blown away.  I didn’t realize how nostalgic I was for an actual set that had all these monsters and animatronics and puppets.  I didn’t realize how much we miss that because everything is done in CGI now and there really is a difference.  You 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.  I just had that sense of wonderment that I had when I saw the “Star Wars” cantina scene.  It really was like, “Oh my God.  I want to rent it.  I’ll 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 in a movie.  So I was a little overwhelmed seeing the film for the first time.  It’s definitely one I can see over and over again because your brain is picking up so many different cues.  Like, when the Golden Army is reassembling itself.  It’s like “Okay, just this in itself, I’m going to have to watch so many times to check out the personality of the Golden Army.”  That, in itself, is a film, to know that this has a personality. That is a huge feat to put that on CGI.  It’s like “Okay, this does not compute.  My brain is monkeyed right now.  I can’t do it.”  So, this is definitely a movie that I’ll watch over and over.

MoviesOnline: Did you have an input into your costumes or anything in particular that Liz wore?

Selma Blair:  Yeah.  I loved the necklace that Guillermo made.  He designed it himself and he was really proud of it.  It was articulated. [note:  She’s talking about the cross necklace].

MoviesOnline: He does everything.

Selma Blair:  I know!  He does everything.  He’s really working on all cylinders.  He uses all of his brain.  I don’t work like that and he impresses me no end but I felt really special wearing that necklace.  That was the final thing that I put on every day in my trailer and it was the thing that completed Liz.

MoviesOnline: Did you get to keep it?

Selma Blair:  No. He actually wants it and they can’t find it.  He wanted to buy it for Lorenza. 

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” opens in theaters on July 11th.

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