Hellboy is no superhero, but he’s not exactly an anti-hero either. Mike Mignola’s folklore-inspired protagonist has a lot more in common with characters like Wolverine and Deadpool than with Batman or Captain America.
David Harbour is coming off of a strong run as the tough-talking, take-no-crap Sheriff Jim Hopper in Stranger Things — a world crammed full of twisted monsters, government conspiracies, and parallel worlds — so making the leap to Hellboy‘s nightmarish universe shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
ScreenRant spoke with Harbour during the recent San Diego Comic Con, where he talked about the film’s pre-production and costume-creation processes:
“We start shooting [Hellboy] in a couple of weeks. I go to Bulgaria in August… and then we start shooting I think in mid-September. We’ve done makeup tests and everything. And it looks really great. And the monsters and everything about it looks really special… Everything is top secret at this point, but it’s beautiful and beyond my expectations. And I was very nervous going in that it would be not what I expected. I’m excited about it. I’m very excited about it.”
Harbour describes his affection for Hellboy and provides a little insight into what we can expect:
“Hellboy is his own thing and I really like him. I’m starting to fall in love with him. He’s got a lot of issues. Hopper is a bit more of an adult than Hellboy. Hopper is kind of a child in certain ways, but I think Hellboy is really a hellboy and not a hellman and he’s struggling with his own destiny, this horrible destiny of being the Beast of the Apocalypse and not wanting to do that and be a sweet guy inside and having tons of father issues. Like, the fact that he’s an adoptee in General Brooms, the fact that he was spawned by these Nazi Occultants (sic) are all things that he himself takes on and feels guilty about.”
That’s a bit of a departure from your typical superhero fare, as Hellboy’s arc reflects growth from child to adult, and also learning from a father figure and mentor. Introspection isn’t a term we often associate with these kinds of films, so Harbour’s reading of Hellboy’s plight is highly intriguing.
Harbour continues describing Hellboy’s internal conflicts:
“He smokes cigarettes and he hates himself and I think he has a really good heart and he’s a sweet kid and he’s trying to figure out all of these father/mother issues and I think we’ll see that expressed in the movie as well. So it’s complicated and it’s really beautiful and exciting to start to work on. There’s a lot to draw there and a lot of complexity that to me, I don’t know we always get to see in severe movies. It’s very much a character piece. Our model for it is Shakespeare. I mean, it’s very much like Hamlet in a certain way. So it’s exciting to play as an actor.”
Gonna go out on a limb and say that no one was anticipating Hellboy as a “character piece” or “Shakespeare.” Hellboy is certainly shaping up to be something quite different. We already know to expect some R-rated violence and horror, juxtaposing that with an emotional character study and a (non) hero’s journey sounds compelling and maybe even a little bit nuanced — yet another term seldom applied to this genre.
Do you prefer your Hellboy with a sprinkling of tears and regret? Let us know in the comments down below!
Hellboy hits theaters in January 11, 2019.
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