By: Jolie Featherstone
Wylie Writes was invited to the hotly anticipated red carpet and Canadian premiere of Hellboy. Hosted at Toronto’s iconic Scotiabank Theatre on April 10th, stars David Harbour and Milla Jovovich were in attendance. The event coincided with David Harbour’s birthday. The theatre was buzzing with the excitement of loyal fans who erupted into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ when Harbour arrived at the red carpet.
Fans at the red carpet premiere sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to star David Harbour.
The Descent director Neil Marshall brings his signature blend of murky macabre and blood-soaked adrenaline to the latest cinematic incarnation of the beloved Dark Horse graphic novel series. Starring Harbour of Stranger Things fame as the titular anti-hero and Jovovich as Nimue (also known as the Blood Queen), Marshall’s Hellboy is a genre-bending departure from the earlier screen adaptations directed by Guillermo Del Toro. This installment does not call back to Del Toro’s films. Instead, it takes its inspiration from the graphic novels. Three graphic novels to be exact: Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury.
The film tackles Hellboy’s origin story (revealing his biological parentage and his “adoption”), as well as the beginning of his friendship with Alice Monaghan (played by rising star Sasha Lane) and the enigmatic Major Ben Daimio (played by Daniel Dae Kim of Lost) – both of whom carry their own super powers.
Following an unexpected turn of events where allegiances are tested and terrible truths are unveiled, Hellboy discovers that an ancient sorceress (aptly known as the Blood Queen) has been resurrected and is thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Hellboy becomes hell-bent on stopping the Blood Queen from enacting her horrifying plan while trying not to trigger the end of the world. Sounds simple right? Let’s just say, audiences are in for an epic battle to save humanity.
The film is pure grindhouse, stylized with elements of superhero-style action, dark fantasy, and classic creature feature. Rest assured it doesn’t skimp on the comedy. Bearing in mind Hellboy is a blood-splattered love letter to the drive-in flicks of yesteryear, the film provides a chaotic but fun ride.
Wylie Writes had the pleasure of speaking with Harbour and Jovovich about their experience and inspiration for diving into their larger-than-life roles.
Jovovich wished Harbour a happy birthday and greeted him with a hug.
After solidifying herself as genre-film royalty and a badass action hero in films such as The Fifth Element and the Resident Evil franchise, Jovovich takes a delightfully devious turn as a villain in Hellboy. Though she’s quick to point out that the Blood Queen is not purely evil. From another perspective, she is a hero. “In the end, she was just a strong woman who was being undermined by people around her and wasn’t given the opportunity because she was a woman.”
The role struck a personal note for Jovovich. “I feel so many women through history were villainized because they weren’t allowed to be themselves…so I love that about this character because she is so relatable to so many women who felt marginalized by strong men around them.”
Milla Jovovich shared the inspiration behind her love of powerful characters.
Jovovich’s attraction to powerful roles started young and was inspired by 80s pop culture. “I grew up in the 80s so, for me, when I was a little girl coming home from school, I would watch She-Ra: Princess of Power and Thundercats. My favourite books were Lord of the Rings, the Dune series, and Dragonlance. So that was like a great escape for me. Becoming an actress was definitely a journey but when I did Fifth Element, I felt like, ‘Wow’. Like, everything clicked to me. It was like me going back to my childhood and like escaping into these fantastic universes but now I get to do that as my job.”
Jovovich explained that watching action movies in the 1980s typically meant watching muscular dudes physically dominating the people around them. Seeing Sigourney Weaver in Aliens was a game-changer for her. That inspiration has remained with her throughout her career. Jovovich approached portraying The Blood Queen not as a monster, but as a brave and fearless woman who stops at nothing to do what she believes is right.
Similarly, Harbour’s portrayal of Hellboy will resonate with anyone that’s ever felt like an outsider. Throughout his acting career, Harbour consistently succeeds in finding the humanity in his characters. This ability allows him to deliver nuanced performances with a refreshing level of honesty. His star-turning portrayal of Chief Hopper in Stranger Things gave audiences a captivating performance of a fallen local hero cautiously maneuvering between pain, love, and courage. Harbour brings that awareness to his portrayal of Hellboy. When asked why it’s important to him to highlight the humanity in all of his characters, including one society would be quick to label a ‘monster’, Harbour said: “I have a very complicated relationship with human beings. I think we all do, right. They are the best, they can be the greatest things in the world and the worst things in the world. And everything in between. I’ve always somewhat felt like a bit of an alien or an outcast and looking at human beings as if they were other than me. And I’ve always studied them sort of so in that way I’m always looking for what it is that makes people beautiful, noble, horrible, all of those things, to sort of portray those things, and hopefully to act somewhat as a mirror to people, to be able to see themselves and maybe learn something about themselves or grow in a certain way.”
David Harbour shared his process for finding the humanity within his characters.
“That said, it is a big old monster movie!”, he said with hearty laughter. “It’s a lot of fun. But, of course, there’s this element in me where I love exploring my humanity. I think it’s what I’m here to do.”
Harbour’s performance is the crown jewel of the film, and is sure to charm loyal fans and franchise-newcomers alike. Hellboy is a frenetic revival of classic grindhouse with serious heart. Strap yourself in for a hell of a ride.
P.S. – There is not one, but two credit scenes – be sure to stay until the end!
Hellboy is now playing.
Red Carpet Photography: Shawn Arevalo (aka. ShawnHawaii)
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Jolie Featherstone: @TOFilmFiles