There’s a new Hellboy in town and actor David Harbour (the man under all of that makeup) seems to be enjoying his personal hell.
Now David Harbour gives us a new take on the red-demon in a grittier and darker film.
Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
Our Bonnie Laufer chatted with David Harbour about almost losing it in the makeup chair, loving that R-rating, and of course, his excitement over the upcoming Season 3 debut of his hit Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Original-Cin: David, just watching you in this film, it seems like you had way too much a bloody fun!
David Harbour: (laughs) “Yeah, yeah, yeah!! It looks that way when it’s all put together. But there are moments at 4 a.m. in the make-up trailer about 40 days in when your head is spinning. And all you’re thinking about is the stunts you have to do, and it just feels like a lot of hard work.”
OC: Was there ever a day, maybe like 30 days in, when you said, ‘I just can’t do this anymore? I’m not getting in this chair again, I’m done!’
DH: “That’s almost exactly the day when it happened, you hit it right on the head! We had 65 applications so around day 30, we were shooting five day weeks. So it was about a month in, and one morning I showed up to set and I remember having a bit of a nervous breakdown. I got to the makeup trailer at 4 in the morning, shaking. And I sat down and I was like, ‘That’s it guys. I’m done. I just can’t do this anymore.’“
OC: So how did you get back into the mindset and continue on?
DH: “Joel Harlow, who did the makeup - he designed it and also applied it with a team of four other people. So, he completely understood because he has worked with a ton of other people who have had to go through extensive makeup applications for other projects.
“He knows that there is going to be a time where you hit a breaking point, and so he sat me down and said some really nice things and talked me through it like a trauma coach. We just took deep breaths and I was able to overcome that hump.
“After that I was able to push through and to be honest, I really started to really get into it. After that mini meltdown, I started to enjoy his face. I started to get excited by it as opposed to my own face.”
DH: “Yeah, he’s got a good face. Don’t you think so?”
OC: He’s got a good face, but you have a good face too!
DH: “Thank you very much, but I've looked at it for a long time. What is they say? Familiarity breeds contempt? After a while I’m like, ‘Oh David.’ And then you see Hellboy and you go, ‘Hey handsome, what’s up? Nice to see you.’”
OC: This film is dark and very true to the comic, and it’s R rated so that must have been so freeing for you to really play this guy without any inhibitions.
DH: “Oh yeah, I love the fact that we really do earn our R-rating. It is bloody and gory and horrific and we swear a lot! The apocalypse is no joke in this movie, it really is pretty brutal.”
OC: You can’t really brighten up the apocalypse.
DH, “Well you can, but we chose not too! (laughs) That was fun. We cursed, and there’s something about the horror nature of this that I feel is such an interesting addition to the genre. Superhero movies are so popular and there is such a pantheon of superhero gods. So to have one that is really darkly horror based was just so much fun. We got to have a lot of fun with the monsters that you see in the film.”
OC: Plus, what a fun cast. It had to have been hard trying to resist Milla Jovovich!
DH: “She’s pretty stunning! I love the fact that she is the villain in the film. Hellboy has an attraction to her. At one point he even stands up for her and defends her and I think that’s kind of a unique thing too. And Milla was so great because she was absolutely open to jumping in and creating this special thing with Hellboy. So I was thrilled about that.”
OC: I can’t leave without mentioning Stranger Things. When the trailer recently dropped for Season 3, the internet went insane! How much fun are you still having with that cast, working with those kids and watching them grow up has to be pretty cool!
DH: “It’s cool but it’s also complicated. Do you have children?”
OC: I do!
DH: “Well, I don’t. But I have six on the show! (Laughs)
“When they started, they were little 11-and-12 year old kids who looked up at me and were sort of scared and dewy eyed.
“And now they’re, like, leaving the nest, resisting and rebelling.
“So Hopper struggles with Eleven growing up. Her becoming a teenager and starting to discover herself is the worst horror for him in the world. So I get to explore a lot of that.
“But in general, it’s the greatest team in the world and it’s such a special show. And the love that you feel watching the show is not just a result of everyone being good actors but also just a bunch of good human beings. It’s a very special thing to be a part of, and every day is a really fun adventure.”