Comic-Con 2014: Exclusive Interview with Doug Jones on 'Space Command,' 'Falling Skies' and More!

– by Gig Patta

Fauno and Pale Man in “Pan’s Layrinth.” Abe Sapien in the “Hellboy” and “Hellboy 2.” Chochise in “Falling Skies.”

You have seen Doug Jones in the past few decades playing various sort of creatures and monsters from your favorite fantasy, sci-fi or horror movie.

In a lengthy exclusive phone interview, Jones talked with us about his San Diego Comic-Con International plans for “Space Command.” He went into depth on the new sci-fi movie series with his android character.

In addition, he also discussed his other work including the TV shows of “The Strain,” “Falling Skies” and the movie “Marble Hornets.” He also discussed his involvement or soon to be with Guillermo del Toro’s “Crimson Peak,” and “The Haunted House.” And finally, he gave us some juicy details about “Hellboy 3” and “Frankenstein” that doesn’t appear to be on the radar at this time.

Doug Jones will be at the "Falling Skies" panel on Friday, July 25th from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 6BCF. Jones will be at "Nobility" panel on Friday, July 25th from 7:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 5AB. Jones will be at the "Space Command" panel on Friday, July 25th from 8:30 to 9 p.m. in Room 25ABC.

Please note we published a partial interview last week. Now read the following full transcript of the interview.

Latino-Review: I’m here talking to you about this new sci-fi show called, “Space Command.” What is it?

Doug Jones: [Laughter] What is this thing called “Space Command?” [Laughter] “Space Command” is written and directed by Marc Zicree, who is a very talented and prolific writer from science fiction television that you’ve seen over the years. He wrote from many Star Trek incarnations and the story goes on and on with him. He and his wife Elaine had collaborated on the script. They co-directed it into a series of movies. We’ll see if the budget holds up and the audience has hope for it. I do hope it comes true on both accounts.

“Space Command” has all the trappings of a science fiction movie franchise. It would have other worlds, space travel and the crews of space vessels. My character on this is an android. I play an android named Dor Neven. The whole arc of these movies is to take place over centuries of time. You’ll see the evolution of a whole generation of people.

My character being an android can be seen in every movie, because I’ll never age. Of which I wished this is true in person by the way.

Latino-Review: [Laughter] I met you once about four or five years ago. I think you look the same.

Doug Jones: Well, you’re very kind. Or maybe I am an android? That’ll be cool.

Latino-Review: Maybe you are.

Doug Jones: [Laughter] On what attracted me to this role is number one—I’ve never played an android before. It would be cool to look human, but without human parts inside. This character has developed feelings of his own that lead us to believe that he might be developing a soul even though he is a mechanism.

There’s this mechanical engineer that helps maintain him who is played by Robert Picardo. He is best known as the holographic doctor from “Star Trek: Voyager.” He is my best friend in the movie. He is the person who helps me escape from the slavery that I’m in. The binding that I’m in as the machine that is misunderstood.

I was designed and the first prototype of the android of this corporation ever made. The head of that corporation is played by Bill Mumy, who you will know in “Lost in Space” as Will Robinson and eventually went on to “Babylon 5.” He created me as his prototype and many after me of all different types. I’m the tall, skinny one who is dressed elegantly and refined, because I was a house servant for people.

As I developed my own opinions and thoughts, they had to put an inhibitor chip in my head. Then they sent me off to the mineral mines to do hard labor. That’s how you meet me in the movie doing a lessor job and not being happy about it.

It’s sort of like being on Prozac or something. My feelings had been disconnected. It’s a lovely story about that android trying to liberate himself after he realizes he does have feelings and wanting to gain human experience.

I’ve become a bad guy of sorts, who became loose cannon. I hijacked a space ship and try to go off to liberate all the other androids on various planets around the solar system. In the meantime, everyone is chasing and trying to stop me. Eventually, you’ll realize I’m not really the bad guy after all. And hopefully everyone after some time know that maybe they did created something that evolved and freedom is the answer.

What I liked about it is that it is a fantastic telling of true history on how many people and cultures that have been in slavery and put down by others on Earth here. And this is a fantasy telling of that history to help us through that. It’s to seek freedom. It’s to seek liberation for all. So it’s a really great tale. I’m happy to be a part of it.

Latino-Review: One of the things as a fan familiar with your works is that you are being famous as a contortionist. Are you acting in a robotic movement or a normal movement for this character?

Doug Jones: Right. That’s a very big discussion going into it. Being a physical actor like I am, I would be happy as a clam to be full on robotic about it. Marc and his wife pulled it back quite a bit and wanted me to move and be as human as possible with just a hint of something that is not quite right. They want the audience to connect with me and sympathize with me. So we toned down the robotic-ness of the character. But, I’m still much postured and very proper. He is very intelligent and very knowledgeable. Not to mention, he is very articulate with his speech.

He still looks very human. My costuming is very minimal. You’re looking at my own face as this character, which is rare and lovely. But with a little pasty-colored makeup on, which makes my skin tone to be lighter and yellow so I don’t look quite human. My hair and ears are covered up with this metallic head piece. My costume is this long coat, high collared garb to make me look like a proper looking butler character set in space. It’s a futuristic butler.

To have my own face clear of rubber makeup was a dream. I could actually go to the snack table to get my own chips and peanuts.

Latino-Review: By allowing the showing your face, was that another decision to humanize your character?

Doug Jones: I think so. Exactly. The audience will be more sympathetic with his character if they can see his real eyes as opposed to a prosthetic face that will have eyes built into it.

Latino-Review: As of late in the industry, a lot of people like to talk about Andy Serkis with the motion capture technology. However, you’re on the other end of the spectrum in which you are into the costumes, monsters and makeup. What do you think about this new trend we’re heading towards in stuff that Andy Serkis is doing?

Doug Jones: I think there’s room for everything. That is a performance style that I haven’t done fully myself yet. Anything that I’ve done that looks like with some CG enhancements on it [is minimal]. They’ll apply practical makeup on me and in post-production they’ll add some enhancements or to allow my face to move more.

Good example would be with “Falling Skies,” the TV series I’m on now with Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood and Will Patton. It’s a fantastic cast. I was added to the show last year in season three. I played as a kind, gentle alien of that race and my name is Cochise.

The mask made for me was created by MastersFX, headed up by Todd Masters. They made this beautiful mask that is glued on to me every day. Much like my Abe Sapien character from “Hellboy,” the eyes are higher and wider on the face so that I cannot manipulate on myself. The eyeballs are beautifully sculpted and stuck on a mask. On post-production after we filmed, Todd Masters and MastersFX would do the digital effects as well. It’s all happening under one roof this time without having to farm it out to somebody else. Since they designed the makeup, they want to honor the makeup and not overdo the CG on top of it. It’s a wonderful method and a good combination.

On what they add in CG-after effects is really subtle and real looking. They gave my eyes some life and make them move around at the right time. They make me blink at the right moments. They gave my brows a bit of emotion. It depends on the performance on which I am giving.

The mouth on the mask is very difficult to express many things. My mouth may be moving like crazy, but the mask isn’t responding all the way. So in post-production, they can make the mouth form the words visually. So it’s a really great process in which CG and practical can come together in concert with each other. That’s my favorite way.

So Andy Serkis and I have met each other now. He’s a delightful and wonderful man. We’ve been compared with each other by many journalists over the years. It’s wonderful to hear his name come out. I think he’s a true genius. He’ll tell you is that we do the same style of acting only that makeup goes on at different times. My [makeup] will go on before the movie and his will go on after. That’s the only different really.

If I was called up to do a performance capture-like role similar to what Andy does—I would jump into it with all the gusto like any role as an actor. And what’s so great about Andy Serkis is that he is truly an actor. He takes on a character. He develops the character. He researches that character. And then he loves that character in his heart. By the time the CG-enhancements are put on him and rendered over him, his performance is very much intact. His work as Gollum is seamless and wonderful. King Kong was gorgeous. Planet of the Apes was just a beautiful touching performance.

Latino-Review: I’ve met Andy Serkis quite a few times already. And I also met Todd Masters for the first time last week.

Doug Jones: Oh, did you?

Latino-Review: Yeah, he was demonstrating some special effects from “Hemlock Grove.” It was pretty awesome.

Doug Jones: Oh, good.

Latino-Review: Tell me about the love and attraction of your roles in sci-fi, fantasy and horror in movies and TV shows.

Doug Jones: I am attracted to them as much as they are attracted to me. I kind of respond well as my career had happened. Being that I’m a tall, skinny goofy fellow with a physical background. I started off as a mime back in college. One of my first costume gigs was at my university at Ball State University in Indiana. I was Charlie Cardinal, the mascot, for two years. I was running around basketball games to entertain the crowd.

I had no idea that being part of a mime troupe on campus, in which we called ourselves “Mime Over Matter” by the way. [Laughter] So being a part of a mime troupe, learning that skill and in costume work on weekends at basketball games, I had no idea that it was laying the groundwork for the career I am having one day.

I wanted to be an actor on sitcoms, doing armpit farts and doing tomfoolery on camera. I also wanted to be in musicals. I wanted to make people laugh. Little that I know this became a career option that I ended up with. I got discovered early doing TV commercials as my agent sent me out there due to my mime and contortionist skills on my resume. I had to put my legs behind my head. It’s kind of a one-trick pony when it comes to that. I don’t have a full circus act.

So when casting people see mime and contortionist on your resume, you get brought in for all the physical, silly costumed roles. So that’s on how it all came about. It was that people saw that me at the time and I didn’t.

Creature effects people became nutty for me as I was told because being as tall as I am at six foot three and a half and being as skinny at 140 pounds and yet strong enough to do physical roles. That put me in an ideal category that I wasn’t even aware of. You can build a character with prosthetic makeup on a person that size without getting too bulky. They can carve a normal size body with a skinny person underneath it like zombies or aliens with tiny waists and broad shoulders. They could build it on somebody of my size without having any problems. That created the combination to sell. Thank heavens to the creature effects people on referring me to the next job and then to the next job.

Because to one of those referrals, somebody referred me to Guillermo del Toro when we first did “Mimic” together back in 1997. That started the relationship and we all know where it went from there.

Latino-Review: It seems like after all these years, you still have a really, really busy schedule. Besides “Falling Skies” and “Space Command,” you’re still working with del Toro for “Crimson Peak,” “Haunted Mansion” and the new TV show “The Strain.” Could you talk about those projects and how you’re balancing everything.

Doug Jones: I would love to. What I loved about Guillermo are many things. In an interview many years ago, someone asked, “What are your next plans for Doug Jones?” He said, “Well, I can’t tell you right now specifically. But let me say this, if I make a hemorrhoid commercial—Doug will be in it.” [Laughter] So that’s very sweet of him saying he keeps me in mind for everything.

The only thing I haven’t done with him was with “Pacific Rim.” And that’s because he doesn’t think of me as a human and there were no creature roles for humans to play since they were largely computer generated creatures. So that’s fine.

For “Crimson Peak,” bless his heart, [Guillermo del Toro] came looking for me. It is a haunted house story. It’s a glorious movie visually. It’s a classic haunted house tale that he came up with and very much will have his thumbprint on it. The movie is very del Toro in its visuals and style. Yet, it’s a genre in a time period and look that he has not done before. I’m glad that he has diversified like he has in the past few years.

“With a young wonderful cast with Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hannum, Jessica Chastain and with the lovely Mia Wasikowska—she’s the one storyline you’ll follow. So she’s growing up from a little girl to a young adulthood and then lured by romance to marry and with a new life in England on where she will be living in a haunted mansion.

So the haunted mansion is another character in the story. What’s haunting it? What’s the backstory of it? That’s what keeping it as a secret for the time being.

I was working on the film for about three weeks. I play a couple of different characters in a couple of key scenes that will make you go, “Oooooo!” So when I was wrapping up my time there for ‘Crimson Peak,’ I asked Guillermo, “What do I say to people when they ask about this movie?” In true Guillermo style, he said, “Tell them it’s a haunted house story! And then ask them what they f-ing think you’re going to play.’

So what the f-ing do you think I’m going to play? That’s the question. Blessed his heart, I always say he’s trilingual. He speaks English, Spanish and the f-word fluently. [Laughter]

Latino-Review: And what about the other projects like “The Strain” and “The Haunted Mansion?”

Doug Jones: “The Strain” is a different story for me personally. It’s developing his book series with Chuck Hogan into a TV series. I think it’s a beautiful transition. I watched the season opening and went ‘Woooowww!’ It just smacks of del Toro, doesn’t it?

Latino-Review: Yes, it does.

Doug Jones: I love every minute of it.

Originally, he contacted me about being in the pilot and reading a character that would be carried through the entire series. That was the most yummy offer ever, but unfortunately it came in when I’m already committed to ‘Falling Skies’ and in the middle of a three-year contract with them. For the first time in my life, I have two delicious offers during the same time slot.

I couldn’t do the pilot, because I could commit to the character to carry for many episodes after that. As I’ve finished up season four of ‘Falling Skies’ in Vancouver, ‘The Strain’ was still in production cause it had a longer season than ‘Falling Skies’ with more episodes. They held a role for me for the season finale. When season one is done, sometime in September or October, you’ll be able to see me in a guest cameo role in a visually stunning moment and you’ll go ‘ahhh!’ We’re going to see more of him and his kind in future episodes. That’s, of course, being a season finale—they’ll leave you dangling on that one.

Latino-Review: Wow, now I’m excited.

Doug Jones: Now here’s the hope. Now that character is introduced, hopefully I can come back and finish it up. [Laughter] I’ll be back in Vancouver for “Falling Skies” season five now. Let’s hope we can work this all out.

Latino-Review: I understand they just did a cast of your face for the Hatbox Ghost in “The Haunted Mansion.”

Doug Jones: You know what? I’ve heard that the same you did. [Laughter] I just read this article last night as a matter of fact. People were getting a hold of me on Facebook and Twitter saying, “Did you hear about this!?!” It’s based on Guillermo’s Reddit Ama he just did. People were asking about ‘The Haunted Mansion’ and what’s the status of that?

It’s redundant to say he’s been going to Disneyland and the attraction to get more inspiration. It’s more of a writing issue right now to hammer out the best story they can for the screen. He let it slip out that he already done a makeup design on my head and body.

And he mentioned me by name. I went ‘Oh. Oh? Oh!’ No one told me anything about it yet. So I’ve read about it on the Internet and that’s where you’re supposed to find out all of your news. It was a makeup design for the Hatbox Ghost. I’ve been hearing for years from fans out there. They said, “If they ever make ‘The Haunted Mansion’ movie, I hope you play the Hatbox Ghost.’ It looks like if it’s up to Guillermo, that dream will come true.

Latino-Review: Out of curiosity, I remembered years ago when I interviewed you—you were talking to me about the “Frankenstein” movie.

Doug Jones: That’s been in development since 2008? I asked him about that a couple of years ago. I asked, “Guillermo, what am I going to tell people about ‘Frankenstein’ since we’ve been talking about it for years?” So his answer is, “Tell them, I’m a lazy fuck!” [Laughter] I can’t say that in interviews and I just told you. He followed up by telling me that he did turn in a synopsis of the story to the powers that be at Universal Pictures and they loved the ideas he had come up with. They loved that he will be keeping it with Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ book that he wanted to stay close to.

I’m just guessing the amount of pressure he may fall under. Being the genius filmmaker he is, for him to report he may make his own “Frankenstein” movie and on what the public reaction will be. “Oh, my gosh. Of course! That’s perfect!! That will make a brilliant movie!” Right? That’s all he’s been hearing for the last five or six years. I think that’ll put a certain amount of undue pressure on him. I don’t know on how he’s going to sit down when people are going off on “Have you written it yet? It’ll be great!” [Laughter] I don’t envy him on that kind of pressure.

Now you’ve heard he has plans to do “Pacific Rim 2” and before that he’s talking about a very secret privately produced feature film in black and white. That’s all he let out so far. I do know more about that project, but I’m forbidden to tell you anything more on it. It is that secretive and it’s going to be that good by the way.

Latino-Review: Can you at least tell me if you get to kick that cast on where they made a mold of you for “Frankenstein?”

Doug Jones: Oh. Oh! From your lips to god’s ears. I think I told you when I was at Spectrum shooting the shot that designed the Bernie Wrightson-inspired Frankenstein monster look. They’ve done the sculpture of the makeup on me as a life cast with the Spectrum Motion shop in Burbank. They built this for me and I had tears rolled up in my eyes. It was just that beautiful. It was the most haunting, beautiful design ever. And it knows that it was going to take on the iconic creature in “Frankenstein.” It’s just so monumental for me personally.

That design is still held under wraps and that movie is ready to go when it is ready to go. Let’s just hope it’s before I die or Guillermo dies, right? [Laughter]

Latino-Review: Did Guillermo tell you what you’re supposed to say to the press if someone asks about “Hellboy 3?”

Doug Jones: That’s another good question. First of all, Guillermo, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and myself would just love to do a ‘Hellboy 3’ and finish up that trilogy. That’s what we all want. I would love to reprise Abe Sapien for you so much. Ron will tell you that Hellboy is the character he connected the most out of all the characters he had played. We all wanted to come back.

In the past, Guillermo had a limited budget on Hellboy 1 and 2. He made huge studio blockbuster movies. Sony Pictures did the first and Universal Pictures did the second film. It’s risky now and they would rather put $150 million into franchises that bound to be hits. Hellboy was more of “Well, we don’t know.” I don’t think they gave it a designated good look.

For “Hellboy 3,” as much as he wants to do it, I think he’s holding firm for a $150 million budget. There’s not a studio in town that would not give us that much money and with a track record of the movie has done so far. It’s done well, but it’s [still a risk] to put that much money into it. I don’t know. My guess is that they’re just being gun shy over sheer money. Guillermo is holding his ground on how much he wants and the studios are holding their ground on how much they want to spend. So in the meantime, everyone is holding their ground that they’re not making a movie yet. That’s unfortunate.

Latino-Review: Just another thing, I read about a rumor of you playing Slenderman. Is that still happening?

Doug Jones:  On the rumor, I am not playing Slenderman, the trademark. The movie was not given permission to use the actual name even though the Slenderman creator did give his blessing to use the imagery. The movie is really based on the “Marble Hornets” web series. The creators of the web series will tell you the character is called The Operator was inspired by Slenderman. But, he has a different backstory and folklore.

I end up playing The Operator in their version of the movie called, ‘The Operator.’ The movie has already been shot. We were supposed to do some pickup shots this summer. It’s been postponed now, largely because of news stories about young girls that have done despicable acts in the name of Slenderman.

We are not Slenderman. I do not play Slenderman. I think people have associated closely enough that The Operator is Slenderman. I think they’re holding to let everything cool off before they move forward with the movie. It’s on its way. It’s coming, but it won’t be opening in October like they hoped.

Latino-Review: I do actually want to wrap up with Comic-Con. I know I took a lot of your time already. So just one more question and it’s very important. What are your Comic-Con plans? I know you’re there for “Space Command” and maybe for “Crimson Peak,” right?

Doug Jones: I’m not slated for “Crimson Peak” panel if there’s going to be one. Or at least not yet, someone is going to look into it. My panel day is Friday mostly. My “Falling Skies” panel is on Friday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Then I got 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. is the “Nobility” panel and that’s a very funny web series that takes place in space. It’s sort of like Star Trek/Babylon 5/Firefly meets The Office. It’s a mockumentary style of a bunch of misfits trying to operate a spaceship. I play the ship’s psychiatrist and probably the one most in need of therapy.

I’m only in the first half an hour of that panel as I’m running to the “Space Command” panel at 8 o’clock on Friday. Those are the ones I’m doing for sure right now. I would love to be involved in the “Crimson Peak” panel if there’s room for me.

Latino-Review: Terrific. I appreciate this interview and just like last time I enjoy your conversation.

Doug Jones: No, thank you too. Thanks so much for you finding me worthy of your time.

Doug Jones will be at the "Falling Skies" panel on Friday, July 25th from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 6BCF. Jones will be at "Nobility" panel on Friday, July 25th from 7:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 5AB. Jones will be at the "Space Command" panel on Friday, July 25th from 8:30 to 9 p.m. in Room 25ABC.

Gig Patta can be contacted at gigpatta@aol.com or @gigpatta on Twitter.

Interviews, TV, Film, LRM Exclusives Doug Jones, Falling Skies, Space Command, Marble Hornets, The Strain, The Haunted Mansion, Frankenstein, Hellboy 3, Comic-Con 2014