Selma Blair Returns as Liz Sherman

It’s been three years since Selma Blair debuted as the fiery Liz Sherman in Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy and many thought they had seen the last of her until the franchise was salvaged by Universal, who signed on to produce and release the sequel. It’s a year later in the world of Hellboy and Liz has moved in with her demon boyfriend, so there’s a new dynamic to their relationship, while Liz has grown more confident with her fire powers. Superhero Hype! had a chance to talk to her on the Budapest set of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and we were shocked when we saw her new look, which involved shorter hair and a sexy black leather outfit.

Superhero Hype!: Did you ever think you’d be playing Liz again?

Selma Blair: Did I ever think I’d be doing this again? I hoped I would. God, after El Jefe, after Guillermo, I’m going to sound thick as a plank, because he really manages you guys so well. But I hoped I’d be playing Liz. The first one was such an introduction to the story of Hellboy that I always thought the meat would be in the second and third, at least for Liz, because in the first one she was afraid to take a step. She was completely a zombie, not wanting to own up to her power and having the memory of what she’d created in her life. So yeah, I was really eager to come and play Liz with a little more vibrancy.

SHH!: Did it take much time to get back into the role?

Blair: Well, it’s taken four years, but I thought it would be so simple, you know? I’d just come and I already know this girl, but I realized I don’t know her at all, because I don’t know her as a woman. And she’s a woman in this one, and she’s not moping around. That’s kind of just in my cell memory as a person, of my pre-conceived idea of what Liz was in the first one. It seems like such a straightforward role, but it’s really been a challenge for me not to suck the energy out of Liz, because that’s kind of how I played her in the first one. She was like in a vacuum, so it would really, really ruin the movie if I played it that way. So it’s been a little bit of a challenge for me.

SHH!: Was the haircut something you suggested or was it you and Guillermo together

Blair: You know, it was together. I basically went nuts and shaved my head. I didn’t go nuts at all. There was actually a girl that wanted my hair, and I’m a giver, so I gave it to her. So I did that to make a wig for a child, but then I made it a fashion thing, that I had this strange-shaped head. So I thought, oh God, Guillermo’s going to kill me. But I was wigged in the first one. I had short hair then, too, so he saw the short hair and he really wanted it, but I think he thought it would look like Liz had a bit too much of a moment in the four years since we last saw her. You know, who is she now? I think it’s a little anime inspired. That was kind of Guillermo having her stronger. Yeah, I think the first one also brought my face down, literally. It was really a gravity type of thing, and we didn’t want that as much.

SHH!: So you’ve shacked up with Hellboy. How’s that working out?

Blair: [Sigh] Well, it’s worked out about as well as my marriage in real life. (laughter) It has its troubles. No, no, no, we’re very good friends. It’s not that bad a thing. It’s not that bad a thing. No, it’s difficult living with someone, especially a guy that takes up as much room as Hellboy, with as many cats as Hellboy has. So no, we are very happily together, but there’s trouble with spending so much time with someone you love, after you’re used to being alone and having your way. Now I use my power a little more in this one, so between my fire and his sloppy little boy behavior, we’re a mess. A lovable mess.

SHH!: Why are you carrying a gun? Isn’t the fire enough?

Blair: You’d think so. Talk to Guillermo about that. And it’s really embarrassing. Obviously, I wouldn’t pull this out if it weren’t completely rubber, but yeah, it’s really embarrassing that I spend so much time in this movie holding this gun up and I’m just like, to Abe/Doug, next to me, I’m like, “Jesus Christ, don’t I have fire for this?” It’s just a lot of time in the background with my gun drawn, like “I’d just blow him up. I’d just blow him up!” But I guess the movie would end, so here’s the gun.

SHH!: Were you involved with the New York fight we saw evidence of out on the backlot?

Blair: I’m standing behind my man there. I’m not involved with it. I’m just kind of cheering him on and there to hold his hand when it’s all over.

SHH!: You could have caused that destruction yourself.

Blair: Well, I don’t want people to see me. Hellboy really likes the limelight, and Liz doesn’t. She feels very uncomfortable under the scrutiny of people, so she’s really not going to break out with her fire. This is between Hellboy and the elemental.

SHH!: So Liz is in control of her powers more this time around.

Blair: Mm-hmm. I mean, I imagine if there’s a third one it would be stronger, or she wouldn’t have to use them at all, but yeah, she can start it and stop it on her own and is game to be part of the B.P.R.D. now.

SHH!: Have you seen a difference in Guillermo since working with him on the first movie?

Blair: I do. You know, I heard from Ron when he started “Cronos” that Guillermo was very kind of tentative and he always had such a strong point of view on what he wanted and the things that make him light up. But he does. He has more confidence. I mean, this the most demanding set I’ve ever been on, and that’s because Guillermo has the vision and he’s so specific. Each time he wants to tell a better story than the last and keep going and he has a lot–I imagine–to live up to in a lot of people’s eyes. I imagine this is a strange one to follow up after something as precious and dark as “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but that’s just my imagining. That’s just my conjecture in that it would be very difficult to follow the movie that kind of has a pre-conceived idea, Hellboy. I think he wants to make this bigger and mythical in nature, but he’s very specific about what he wants. Sometimes I don’t understand, but he does, so that’s what matters.

SHH!: Were you familiar with the comic books?

Blair: Not before the first one. No, I just got a call from my agent saying Guillermo wants you for this movie, and I had known “Devil’s Backbone” and I loved it, and I said, “Of course.” I signed on sight unseen and it’s been the greatest adventure, so I’m so grateful he saw something he wanted.

SHH!: After two years did you think this sequel might not happen and were you surprised when it did?

Blair: I was really hoping. Then when we started to do the animated ones, it didn’t have anything to do with Guillermo, but it did have to do with promoting “Hellboy” just as a kind of franchise, I guess you’d call it, but then I started getting hope that I would be able to finally do my garden back home. (laughter) You know, there were things, and I was going to be able to pay bills, but yeah, I kind of thought it was never going to happen, but Guillermo didn’t give up, and when he gave me a call at 11 o’clock one night and said that they had financing, it was really a relief. It’s something that I’d been waiting for and hoping for and this does feel like back with family, and it’s a whole new experience and it’s amazing.

SHH!: You did the voice for the animated version of yourself also?

Blair: Yeah, (sarcastically) what a delight that is. It’s like Daria doing the voice of Liz.

SHH!: Did you do that at the same time?

Blair: Yeah, I mean, there were just a few animated ones, and honestly, when you do a voice of something, you’re just in the studio for a few hours at a time, and then they’ll do another pass. So I was doing that at home before we started this six months ago, or whatever.

SHH!: Has there been talk of more of those?

Blair: I know that one was nominated for an Emmy and I’m glad that that one person that nominated it bought it, because that’s about the only copy I know of that sold. So I don’t know if any more are going to happen, but one of them was really beautiful, I think, “Sword of Storms.” Or something.

SHH!: So does the BPRD team dynamic change with the addition of Johann?

Blair: It’s been a really different dynamic, because I never really had scenes with Abe. There was just one that was a really touching scene for me in the first one. That was actually my only real scene were I felt like a person communicating with someone. This one, he’s my buddy. We’re together all the time, and all the characters he’s playing. So I kind of feel closest to Doug in this. And always Ron. I mean, Ron’s my neighbor. I live next to Ron in real life, so Ron is someone that I’m just really close to, and have kept in touch with, and that feels normal. And John Alexander and James–there’s a couple of people who play him–I think we’re happy. The more the merrier… and the more people that can suffer in their costumes and I can make fun of them, because I don’t have one. I bedevil them. It’s awful. They’re like sweating and dying and they can’t breathe, and I’m like, “Oh my God, this cotton tank top is so hot. It’s really too much. I don’t know how you guys do it.” Yeah. I don’t think most people get my humor, so it’s been a little rough.

SHH!: What is Liz like mentally in this film?

Blair: I think she’s really getting her life. She’s looking to the future much more, and things are happening in this one that she has to buck up. She can’t be a kid anymore and she can’t feel sorry for herself. I think she is strong, and I think Guillermo’s really noticing moments where it’s lacking, and we go back and shoot. Like, Liz needs this moment where she saves the day for a moment, or where she advises someone to do something, to just really try and pump it up, because I think even though I’m not at all a girl in real life, I think I can come off–it’s just part of my own energy–but I can come off as younger than I am. Not by looks necessarily, just by presence. So I think you’re dealing with a lot knowing this young girl that we last saw as very damaged, and now she’s with this guy, and all these people around her, I think, we’ve really had to step up a strength, and a confidence in her so that I don’t look like the little baby kid sister tagging along

SHH!: What kind of fire things are we going to see in this? Is she like barbecuing dinner?

Blair: No, there’s not as much. There are a few moments of that, but Liz doesn’t cook, so there’s no barbecuing dinner, but there’s nothing really too comedic with it. But I don’t know, because Guillermo could add that in post. I could be having a scene where I think I’m fully on it and just having a normal dramatic scene, and I don’t know, there could be flames coming out of me in post, and that changes everything. I don’t know.

SHH!: Is your average day just standing around waiting, like this?

Blair: There’s some moments where Guillermo’s had to say, “Okay, now you’re going to feel really self-conscious, but you just have to go there.” And then after I give it my whole, like [roars loudly], he’s like, “Okay, take it down next time.” And he tells me how much I embarrass myself. So I try and just let it rip, and everyone’s so understanding on this. But yeah, I’m sure I look like a complete moron, and we’ll fix a lot in ADR.

SHH!: Have you bonded with Anna Walton? You don’t really have any scenes together.

Blair: No, we have really one second together where I grab her hand outside and usher her away, but yes, we get along great. She’s beautiful. I hope to do all my press with her, because I want to show people that this isn’t just a guy movie. This has another woman in it, she’s a hero. Bitty was in the last one and she was lovely, but she was the villain, so they don’t kind of promote the movies as much. But she’s gorgeous, Anna, and she’s a wonderful leading lady and I wish she weren’t so pretty. I kept trying to tell Guillermo to make her clothes really lumpy so that I was cuter, but it didn’t work out. She’s pretty perfect. And we are friends. We went to Vienna together and we’ll continue to be friends. And I hope we really get to promote this movie together to get more of a female audience. There are really strong women in this film and they’re cute like Anna and they’re short and brown like me.

SHH!: Guillermo has said he has an idea for the next film. Has he talked with you about it?

Blair: Yeah, I mean, he has shared it with me. I’m just praying that he’ll do it. I mean, I’m praying the third one will come, because for me that would be the strongest one for my character. So selfishly I want that. But I also think the story of the third one will be so haunting and just such a major story that I think it would be such a shame to cheat it and just end with the second. So I hope the third one is made, but I know it’s been exhausting.

SHH!: Is that being hinted at in the scene that we saw filming? (POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING!)

Blair: Yeah, I think the scene we’re filming now really hints at the direction, what would happen to Liz, inferring that she would suffer the most and that this choice is going to come at a high price. I mean, that’s a pretty huge lead-up to a third movie. How could Liz suffer the most with this choice and if the Angel of Death swears that the destruction is about to happen, then what could that choice be? And I think that’s just for two people in love and two people with powers, it’s a really dramatic third story.

SHH!: In the third movie you’ll probably have to wear lots of make up and big huge outfits.

Blair: Yeah, that’s how they’ll get me back. I’ll be wearing a red prosthetic too. No, I hope we’ll make it.

SHH!: Guillermo is producing Neil Gaiman’s “Death: The High Cost of Living” which seems right up your alley.

Blair: I mean, I wanted to play Death for a long time. On the first one, people would see me and they’d say, “Oh my God, you have to play Death. You have to play Death.” And Guillermo, I didn’t know he was doing “Death” at the time, and I don’t think he knew for sure that he’d be kind of teaming up with Neil for that or helping Neil out. And he’d say, “Yeah, yeah, Selma, you’d be good for Death.” And then crickets, crickets. So I think he definitely has his eye on someone, and I would know if it were me. So it’s not me. So I’ll give it up. But it’s something I’ll see. I love that character, and that’s kind of really right up my alley, so I’ll be first in line to see it, but sadly, it definitely won’t be me. Because I would know.

SHH!: Did you talk to Neil while he was here?

Blair: Yeah, yeah. I’m good friends with Neil, and that still didn’t get me the job. I’m reading “Stardust” right now. It’s beautiful.

SHH!: They already did that movie.

Blair: I know, I know, so no pressure. So I don’t have to fight for it. No, but I love it.

SHH!: You mentioned some of the stuff that happened in L.A. before you left. Did that lend an appeal to leaving L.A. behind for a bit and going to another country?

Blair: Yeah, well, when I went through some personal changes I actually went away to Belfast, the most depressing place in the world, to shoot “W Delta Z,” so I got away and made kind of a really chilling movie, and then it made coming back home something to look forward to. But no, you know, this just came, this happened. I don’t think I still have signed this contract for this film, to tell you the truth, that I’m on right now, but we kind of knew it was going like two days before I few out here. Actually, Ahmet (Zappa, Selma’s former husband) and I are really close and he’s been out here and been with me and he loves Guillermo very much. He’s still the closest person in my life, so no, there’s nothing too dramatic I want to get away from back home.

SHH!: So “W Delta Z”, who’s in that?

Blair: Stellan Skarsgård and Melissa George.

SHH!: Is that coming out next year some time?

Blair: I’m not sure. You’d know more about that.

SHH!: Who are you playing in that with you?

Blair: I play a girl that went through a really hard time. I was attacked by kind of a gang of guys and it’s just kind of woven into the story that Stellan and Melissa are figuring out. But it’s great watching him work. Stellan is wonderful, and Melissa’s always great. But Stellan is one of my favorite actors in the world, so just to be near him was very satisfying.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army opens on July 11.

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Source: Edward Douglas