Hell has come to New York City and people couldn’t be happier about it. Today at New York Comic Con, David Harbour, star of the upcoming Hellboy remake, stopped by with co-stars Sasha Lane (Alice Monaghan), Daniel Dae Kim (Ben Daimio), and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. Clark Collis, senior editor at Entertainment Weekly, was on hand to make the best effort at moderating the panel.
In addition to listening to the cast speak on their experiences while working on the film, the audience was treated to the first ever look at the exclusive Hellboy footage. Spoiler alert: It was incredible and I can’t wait for them to release it for the rest of the world to enjoy.
Harbour started the panel with” “How we doin’ New York?! Man, it’s so much better than San Diego. East coast for life!”
Once things settled down, Mike Mignola spoke to his amazement that he had been drawing comics for DC and Marvel for ten years before he ever got started with his true passion, drawing monsters. On where Hellboy is today, he said, “I certainly didn’t expect it to go on for 25 years. Certainly, didn’t expect it to lead to things like this. Didn’t expect to get away with this crazy s--t.”
“I never believed any of this stuff is going to happen, but the original Hellboy producers have been working like dogs forever to try and get another film to happen and I was like, sure guys, yeah, yeah.” Mignola continued, “They didn’t want to redo what we’ve done before, and I never ever thought anything would happen. Huge fan of Neil Marshall, loved The Descent. I’m starting to believe TODAY now things are actually happening.”
“NOW? It took you until now to believe it’s happening?”, cut in Harbour with a burst of laughter from the audience.
On what attracted Harbour to playing the role of Hellboy: “I was never a comic book guy growing up, I was always a video game guy. I never grew up with Cap and Thor or anything like that. In my 20s I was a real artsy kid in the east village.” Harbour continued, “My friends were very into these graphic novels, they introduced me to this Hellboy comic. I was so struck by the art of it. Then, of course, I saw both Guillermo del Toro and Perlman’s films, which are great of course. After that, they called me up and said ‘Hey, do you wanna play Hellboy?’ and that’s my story.”
“My wife and I were watching Stranger Things, and the minute David showed up on screen my wife said ‘That guy should play Hellboy’. And I never told anyone she said this,” Mignola shared. “Two weeks later the producer called and asked what I thought of David Harbour playing Hellboy. So that was pretty weird.”
“I did my first audition and when they hit me back for another one I was like ‘Whaaaat? Seriously? Okay!’ I’m not a damsel in distress,” Lane shared. “She gets kidnapped by fairies.”
“Well, I auditioned for Sasha’s role but for some reason, I didn’t get it. I came onto this project after a good friend of mine, Ed Skrien, stepped away from the project and they were looking for someone and I happened to be available.” Kim said. “I joined and I’m so glad I did. I’ve become a big fan of Mike’s work. Seeing an Asian American in these comic books is–” Kim was unable to finish as the audience cut him off with an extremely loud applause.
“It’s the biggest Hellboy storyline I’ve ever come up with. It has pieces of Wild Hunt and other Hellboy stories are laced through it.” Said Mignola. “It must be easier when you’re adapting a novel, but when you have 25 years of material, that’s the fun bit, trying to string all these things together and make it work. I don’t remember the question.”
“I don’t want to give anything away. She’s very bad but very good from her perspective, which is what I like in a villain.” Mignola said on Milla Jovovich as the Blood Queen.
Jovovich was unable to attend the panel due to filming for a new movie in South Africa, but she did drop in through a prerecorded video message.
“I play the Blood Queen. The script portrays her as the villain, which I resent. She just wants to be friends with Hellboy. Right, David? Nah just kidding! She wants to kill everyone and everything. So excited to see her make it to the big screen. Thank you for the support,” said Jovovich.
“She’s amazing! She’s like my favorite!” said an excited Harbour. “I kind of grew up with Milla. The Fifth Element and Resident Evil franchise — she’s just done so many movies. I was a bit intimidated because she’s so strong and such a badass. She’s so lovely and so excited about the project. You don’t always get that from big stars; a lot of people are there to just do their jobs. She was just so thrilled and wanted to explore everything. She was interested in the whole movie as opposed to just her singular part. I was very humbled by her. She’s a beautiful actress and human being.”
“Milla was also my favorite,” joked Kim. “Working with David was astonishing. Him making jokes about his dad bod all the time. This incredibly transformative makeup and character job. The work he did internally and externally was incredible. This guy makes really bold choices as Hellboy and I think you’re going to like what you’re going to see.”
“Sasha is like my sister. I’m so glad we got to be friends and she got to be part of this with me,” Kim added.
“Having these two with me made me feel so comfortable. I fell so in love with Hellboy when he took the costume off and it was just David I was like ‘oh, you’re okay,'” Lane shared.
“There’s a lot of CGI but there’s also a LOT of practical stuff. This is a monster movie.” Harbour proceeded to then mock people who complained online about Hellboy being all CGI. “Ya know, like Thanos.” The audience erupted in laughter.
“I do lament that the film industry uses CGI exclusively now — I prefer practical effects and you’ll see a lot of that here. Joel Harlow [is an] Academy award-winning effects artist. The entire Hellboy costume is real, except for the flaming sword on his shoulder,” added Harbour.
“We did a few different makeup tests and some were better than others. I really wanted to get into this guy, but I couldn’t wear the makeup every day, so I went to a sports store and bought a boxing helmet and glued things onto it. I bought hockey pads, a wetsuit and built myself a suit. So, for three weeks I rehearsed in a homemade Hellboy suit and it really helped so once I got into the actual costume, it just felt like a second skin,” Harbour said on preparing for the role in a costume that took two and a half hours to get fully on.
“I love what Guillermo did.” Mignola on the previous Hellboy films. “Guillermo is so unique — he made and crafted a beautiful fantasy. When Neil took over it was such a dark monster film so we thought why not push it all the way and make it R-rated?”
“I was nervous because Ron’s performance is very iconic. I love what he did. He’s a great Hellboy. I didn’t want to try and imitate that. I wanted to do my own thing,” said Harbour. “My approach was a little bit more down and dirtier. Even a little bit younger, he’s got hair, which is a big thing. He’s got a little more inner turmoil, strife with Holm. It has a completely different feel. I love this character. I want to get down to the core of Mike’s stuff.”
“He’s an incredible actor. I remember when Deadwood came out, that show is incredible, his performance is legendary. He’s such a powerful man. I was intimidated. We hit it off,” said Harbour on Ian McShane’s performance. “This is a very radical version of Holm.”
“I’m looking forward to having the conversation after this movie comes out, what the next movie is,” Mignola said on if we’ll see other Hellboy stories in future films. “Very excited to be in that room and start having those conversations. This version is so close to the comic, so my hope is that we can go back to the comic and pick something from there to do next.”
Harbour then discussed working with Neil Marshall. “He’s a really great director. He knows how to do scares and monsters, which is so great for this movie. At its essence it’s a monster horror movie, more than say a superhero movie. Of course, it has elements of a superhero movie, but that’s not what it is at its core. He’s a very compassionate and lovely man.”
“We’re both introverts,” said Lane. “At first our communication was just ‘hmm.’ So, once we started working together more, we started to realize we were both introverts and comfortable with each other without saying words.”
“It’s not an easy thing to come in and try to follow Guillermo del Toro,” said Kim on Marshall. “He did so with a sense of class and hard work. I always felt he had a vision for what he wanted to do. As you can see from the trailer, there’s a sense of pushing the edges from what the previous versions of Hellboy were.”
“I would eventually like to hang the right hand of doom in my apartment. Joel said he might make me another one,” Harbour said on what he would have stolen from the set if he could have.
Before the panel ended, the cast took questions from the audience and one question in particular really got Harbour riled up. A fan asked if we should expect to see other members of the B.P.R.D. in the film, such as Abe and Liz. “Oh, I want to say something so bad but Lionsgate said I couldn’t! You guys know my reputation with Netflix and Stranger Things for spoiling things.” After making several frustrated grunts and noises, Harbour finished with “You might see someone from B.P.R.D.” and did a hand motion like Pac-Man chomping.
“Hellboy in his heart is a lover, like Jesus.”– David Harbour