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July 2008
An Interview with Selma Blair

An Interview with Selma Blair
By Wilson Morales

July 7, 2008

For Selma Blair, the chance to play ‘firestarter’ Liz Sherman and Hellboy’s girlfriend puts her in a unique position. Most of the girlfriends in comic book stories tend to be the ones that doesn’t know the identity of her loved one, and with Hellboy, it is quite the opposite. Coming back to play Liz in ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ has given Blair a new fan base she couldn’t imagine.

In speaking with blackfilm.com, Blair talks about her character, working with Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman, and her upcoming TV show with Molly Shannon.

So, how is it playing the pyro-techno girlfriend?

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

In this film, Liz seems to come into her own, doesn’t she, as a full member of the team.

SB: Yeah, she did. In the first one, she definitely had some hang-ups. She had some baggage, mostly under her eyes, looking back at that. She was 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 capable functioning woman. Still a little bit bruting, but definitely she’s stronger. It was strange to play it. I thought I knew Liz and thought it would just be a cake walk, but it strange playing her with a little more confidence. I kept wanting to go back to the hesitant Liz.

Guillermo says he modeled some of the fights between Hellboy and Liz on his own life with his wife. Did he share that with you?

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

You’re pretty much the only identifiable human on screen for the majority of the film. Was that something you thought about consciously that you are the closest thing to an ordinary person even though you are hurling flames?

SB: I didn’t realize it until we were halfway through with the movie and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m the only face here. It just seemed wild. I don’t know what that says about me, but didn’t even notice it. I’m told that at one point when we are doing the golden army scene, which is the only CGI stuff in the movie and everything else was really there including the monsters, which was cool to look at and I said, ‘Where are you guys looking?’ and someone said it didn’t matter because no one could see their eyes, and I realized, ‘Oh my God! Everyone can see my eyes! Oh my God! I have a face! I have a face!’ There was a moment of terror. I’m going to be the one that will crap all over this movie. I’m going to be the mess.

Can you talk about how Guillermo likes to use real creatures and not CGI? He said that for actors, it really helps them. Do you find that to be helpful to you?

SB: Of course. It adds a sense of reality; and when you a making such a fantastical movie like this, it can only help. To have Hellboy dressed up so realistically everyday, it made it so real. When we did the first one, the first moment I stepped on set with him, I wondered if I should touch him. Does it make a noise? Will it pop if I try to caress it? No. I have never worked with prosthetic boyfriend. (Laughs) That doesn’t sound great but I’m sure I have... I didn’t know what to expect. It was so real. Guillermo hasput so much love and effort into this monster making that after that first scene was done, 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 didn’t seem like that.

Did you get any drawings?

SB: There were a couple of practical ones there. There were some references so we knew they were like. When we in the operating room, we did that scene before the auction house scene.

What was the most challenging this to shoot?

SB: The most challenging sequence was probably some of one with the guns in the auction house scene because, it’s very embarrassing but I’m actually really good with a gun. My sister was a cop for twelve years so she always taught me about gun safety and everything, but I never pretended to shoot a gun on camera because you don’t actually have bullets of course and you will do a couple with blanks but with the rest you are just miming it. It’s such a strange thing to shoot a gun and pretend like there’s a kickback. I’m not a very good mime. I’m the pits. I have to admit that I’m not a good action star. Doug too and Guillermo calls us ‘Selma and Louise’. He looks like Barberella in the background and we’re the pits. We were on the floor laughing at what little girls we look like with the guns in the background and Guillermo thought that we would never get through the scene.

You need to ask for a loaded gun the next time.

SB: Exactly. To shoot myself with.

What was your reaction when you saw the final film?

SB: I thought the film was pretty epic. I thought Guillermo really did an amazing film. I can’t believe how successfully he covered all the bases. Everything is in the film from love and death and amazing action sequences, and war and monsters, and it’s incredible.

What was the atmosphere like to be on a Guillermo set? Is everybody relaxed or just stiffed?

SB: No. It’s funny. There are so many different languages being spoken. It’s pretty crazy that way. There’s a Mexican crew and then there’s Spain and Mexico, Hungary and there’s some Czech crew people there from the first Hellboy. There are all these different countries being represented on a set and American and British. Guillermo hysterical and we always had Jeffrey Tambor singing, and we have Hellboy singing all the time.

What’s he singing?

SB: He’s singing like Frank Sinatra songs and old show tunes. It’s so surreal, and then there’s Hellboy crooning with a cigar. It always blows my mind. It’s fun. It’s really fun. It’s an intense work schedule – 6 day weeks, mostly nights, and I would be off shivering in a corner somewhere. None of them were cold because they always had on prosthetic gear on but usually sweating. They were grateful when winter came around. In the summer, they hated life.

You were mostly in Budapestthis time?

SB: Yes. We were in Budapest the whole time.

Did you find your scenes with Ron grew more than the ones in the last film?

SB: Yeah. It fell right into place. It made sense completely and the second film did it. It was a stronger relationship but I always knew that it was headed that way. The first one seemed that Liz and Hellboy had a bond, and I was just waiting to move into this direction and that we would be together.

Do you know there’s job security when Guillermo’s talking about coming back in 2012 for another Hellboy film?

SB: God I hope it happens. I guess I better take my Geritol. (Laughs)

Have you guys talked about it at all?

SB: 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 be in unendurable pain and I would love to see what Guillermo would bring to that. The Angel of Death assures her of that. Guillermo is such a master of raising the stakes of what something could be and what’s possible and I would love to see what that is, but I don’t know. It depends on the success of this movie.

Can you see yourself in ‘The Hobbit’ movies?

SB: I look like a boy (laughs), but I’m not a boy. I do not know, but unfortunately I am 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.

Can talk more about the TV show?

SB: It’s called Kath and Kim. Molly Shannon plays Kath and I play Kim. Mother and daughter on NBC and it starts in October at 9:30 after ‘The Office’. I am a pretty good saleswoman; a real team player. NBC has taught me well. It’s based on an Australian show from the same name.

What sort of relationship do they have?

SB: They love each other very much. My character is bordering on demented and she is so much to play. It surprises me how naturally it comes, and how it does not leave me when they say ‘cut’. Now I have an excuse, ‘I’m so sorry but it’s so embedded in me now’. My character loves her mother, she’s self absorbed and tabloid obsessed. It takes place in Florida. Mom is very 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 once in a while but I fancy myself a trophy wife even though he works at the Best Buy. I’m a little bit delusional. I think I look as good as I did when I was 13 and I still wear the clothes to prove it, even though I shouldn’t be at all.

Is it being filmed like a sitcom?

SB: No. It’s being filmed like ‘The Office’ with the same style.

How’s the transition from films to TV?

SB: I’m not used to learning so many lines. I have to tell you that it’s a lot of work. I like acting but not that much. 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 at how little material on TV there was for 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 want to stay on that thing. It’s a good transition. I’m happy to be in LA for awhile. I’m happy to working with Molly on a show that has great writing, so I’m enjoying it a lot.

Can you talk about the experience of working with Lori Petty on ‘The Poker House’?

SB: Lori is a really passionate woman, great director; she’s funny, and so much to work with. 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 surprising natural to me. It was an amazing character to play so unlike anything I played before and she made it so easy to play. Working with someone who is also a talented actress made the role, and I was a bit frightened to play someone who was so damaged at the time, easy to play her.

Is there any outtake that you can remember or anything hysterical that will be on the DVD?

SB: I don’t know. There wasn’t that much that I can think of. We were working at such an intense pace because we had so little time to get so much done that there so little time for clowning around or letting any mistakes happen because we needed to get it done. It was a precise set. I can’t recall.

Were there any scenes cut out that might be on the DVD?

SB: Not that I can think of.

Did you have a bigger creature or monster that you created?

SB: I didn’t see it at the time but I loved when I watched the movie I really liked that tumor baby. What’s wrong with me? Why did I think that was the cutest thing? I didn’t realized how nostalgic I was for an actual set that had all these animatronic puppets and how much I missed that since everything is done in CGU now, and there really is a difference. You can feel the difference between something that is tacked on 3-D and something that is created digitally. Our brains can sense it. I had the sense of wonderment when I saw that star wars canteen scene. ‘Oh my God! I want to rent it so I can pick out my favorite stuff’. I felt as I were a kid in a candy shop and I haven’t felt that in a long time in a movie; so it was a little overwhelming seeing the film for the first time and your brain is picking up so many different cues like when the golden army is reassembling itself. Just that scene itself I will have to watch so many times. The personality of the golden army is a huge feet to put on CGI. My brain is on monkey right now. This is definitely a movie that I’ll watch over and over.

Did you like any of the costumes that you wore?

SB: I love the necklace that Guillermo made. He did it himself. He designed it himself and he was really proud of it. He impresses me to no end. I felt really special wearing that necklace. That was the final thing I put on in my trailer that completed Liz.

Did you get to keep it?

SB: No. He wants it back and they can’t find it. He wanted to buy it for Lorenza.





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