UP CLOSE: MIKE MIGNOLA
The ‘Hellboy’ creator dishes on the movie sequel, stepping behind the camera and working with the ‘infectious’ Guillermo del Toro
By Andy Serwin
Posted December 4, 2007 4:10 PM
WIZARD: How would you describe your involvement in the making of “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”?
MIGNOLA: I co-wrote the story, which means that [director] Guillermo [del Toro] and I basically spent a few days together at his house talking about what we wanted to do. We came up with the story together and then he ran off and did the screenplay and I made my comments as he went along.
I spent a couple of months doing preproduction on this as I had done on the first picture. I did less actual design. I did a lot of rough early concept stuff that was immediately handed off. A lot of the ideas were mine, but a lot more of the actual designs and finished-drawing stuff was done by other people.
Even though this is an original story, are there any beats or moments pulled directly from the Hellboy comics?
MIGNOLA: I don’t think there’s as much of that on this movie as there was on the first one. It seems like we referenced the comic less on this one. I think because it was an original story, in a way we were looking toward the future of the comic in that the subject matter that we’re dealing with here is the subject matter that I’m currently doing in the comic.
You spent some time on set in Budapest. What were your general impressions of what you saw over there?
MIGNOLA: I was there for a couple of weeks before we started filming, and I just couldn’t get over how much bigger this picture was and how much better it looked. Selma [Blair] has a different haircut and her costume design works better on her, and Abe [Sapien]’s costume looks great. I spent a lot of time on this one set that was sort of a throne room and the scale of it was so huge. It’s such an odd thing with Hellboy and Liz and [new B.P.R.D. member] Johann [Krauss]—you put [them] into this giant set and it really looked like something out of “The Wizard of Oz.”
How would you compare the respective ways in which you and Guillermo see Hellboy?
MIGNOLA: Certainly I see things much simpler, and he likes a lot more moving parts. You can see it in the design of the Johann character. Guillermo likes mechanical parts more than I do. It was a really interesting process on this one because none of the characters were actually based on characters in the comics; they’re pretty much his creatures.
How would you describe the way the character dynamics have changed between Hellboy, Liz and Abe?
MIGNOLA: The Hellboy/Liz relationship was established in the first picture, so this is a logical extension of that relationship. I won’t say it’s Abe’s movie. Hellboy definitely has his particular storyline, but Abe’s storyline is as strong as Hellboy’s on this one. What goes on with Liz is also escalated quite a bit. The beauty of a second film is that you’ve already done the origin, and so you can now focus on who these characters are.
Based on your feeling and what you’ve seen, is it easy to imagine a third movie?
MIGNOLA: Yeah, but [Guillermo] and I have never really talked about the third one too much. Basically, every stray idea there was, he was like, “Yeah, that goes in the third one.” You think, “Well, gee, if we take everything you said would be good in the third one, that’ll be like 36 hours long.” It’s very strange for me at this point because the characters have developed so far in this different direction from the comic, and so I don’t know what a third film would be. It would clearly be up to Guillermo.
A lot of guys from the comic world like Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman are starting to get more involved in Hollywood. Would you have any interest in directing at some point?
MIGNOLA: People have asked me about that, and I have no interest. I like sitting next to the director for a few weeks and watching what the director does, but it’s a really hard job. So for me to spend time next to Guillermo only makes me realize how much I don’t want that job. Guillermo has clearly been thinking about how to make movies since he was 12 years old. I’m 46, and I feel like it’s a little late in the day for me to suddenly say, “Hey, you know what, that might be fun.” I’ve got 6,000 different things going on. We are working on a film adaptation of [my novel] Baltimore and I’m co-writing the screenplay for that which I’ve never done before and that’s kind of interesting. At the end of the day though, I’m not a filmmaker.
Go to hell with Hellboy when the movie opens on July 11, 2008.
Yeah! GO TO HELL with Hellboy! Haha!