David Harbour goes in depth about his approach and the influences on playing Hellboy in the reboot, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. Most actors are lucky to get one defining role during the course of their career. Very rarely does an actor get the opportunity to pull off a "Harrison Ford," by portraying two separate characters that have an effect on pop culture. After grinding out a career as a character actor, Harbour has worked himself into the aforementioned dream scenario for any performer, as a lead in both the award-winning Stranger Things and as the title character in the upcoming reboot of Hellboy.
Stranger Things had a monumental effect on the popular consciousness after an immensely popular debut season last year. The cast has already filmed the second season and now the series is being pushed through the post-production process in anticipation of a Fall debut on Netflix. Harbour is now prepping for his next project, the unexpected R-rated reboot, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. He's taking on the role of Hellboy, a demon born from dark magic who fights supernatural crime with a covert organization, that was first made popular by Ron Perlman in Guillermo del Toro's two films, Hellboy and Hellboy: The Golden Army.
The announcement of the upcoming reboot took many by surprise, however it seems to be built on a solid foundation, with director Neil Marshall (The Descent) at the helm and creator Mike Mignola in a producing capacity as well. Screen Rant got the opportunity to chat with Harbour at a recent press event for Stranger Things and the actor couldn't contain his excitement for his upcoming project:
We start shooting in a couple of weeks. I go to Bulgaria in August, late August, end of August and then we start shooting I think in mid-September. And I’ve seen, we’ve done makeup tests and everything. And it looks really great. And the monsters and everything about it looks really special. I can’t. Everything is top secret at this point, but it’s beautiful and beyond my expectations. And I was very nervous going in that it would be not what I expected. I’m excited about it. I’m very excited about it.
There is a lot of speculation about the approach to the new Hellboy. Harbour previously mentioned the "mature themes" that the new film will be able to explore with the R rating that other installments weren't able. In addition, Marshall has discussed how the new film will attempt to use practical effects over CGI elements whenever possible, which may help differentiate it from the previous incarnation.
On the eve of the second season of Stranger Things and Hellboy beginning production in a matter of weeks, Harbour went on to explain the similarities between the characters of Jim Hopper and Hellboy, as well as what mental preparation he's undergone in anticipation of his next iconic role:
And yeah, Hellboy is his own thing and I really like him. I’m starting to fall in love with him. He’s got a lot of issues. Hopper is a bit more of an adult than Hellboy. Hopper is kind of a child in certain ways, but I think Hellboy is really a hellboy and not a hellman and he’s struggling with his own destiny, this horrible destiny of being the Beast of the Apocalypse and not wanting to do that and be a sweet guy inside and having tons of father issues. Like, the fact that he’s an adoptee in General Brooms, the fact that he was spawned by these Nazi Occultants are all things that he himself takes on and feels guilty about. He smokes cigarettes and he hates himself and I think he has a really good heart and he’s a sweet kid and he’s trying to figure out all of these father/mother issues and I think we’ll see that expressed in the movie as well. So it’s complicated and it’s really beautiful and exciting to start to work on. There’s a lot to draw there and a lot of complexity that to me, I don’t know we always get to see in severe movies. It’s very much a character piece. Our model for it is Shakespeare. I mean, it’s very much like Hamlet in a certain way. So it’s exciting to play as an actor.
Del Toro's films put the character on the superhero map in the mainstream and now it looks as if Marshall and Harbour are attempting to dig deep into the true fabric of the character. This approach has paid huge dividends in recent films such as Logan and even the comedic Deadpool, so it will be interesting to see how the Hellboy franchise is redefined for modern times. Fortunately, cameras begin rolling in a matter of weeks and we should have a lot more to talk about.
Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen does not presently have a set release date.