Monday, January 6, 2014

Creature Actor Doug Jones

If you've viewed any Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror films in recent years you may never have even heard the name "Doug Jones".  However, you've probably seen him in action and didn't even realize it.  Doug Jones is a creature actor who usually portrays a variety of monsters, ghosts, and other inhabitants of the underworld.

... And a pretty awesome human being.
Jones' slender physique allows him to play virtually any creature, allowing artists to create nearly any form around him without allowing them to become bulky and unrealistic.  He began his career in entertainment as mime and contortionist.  Those early experiences certainly pay off.  Despite being covered in layers of prosthetics and makeup, Jones is able to make the creatures he portrays on the screen come alive and become more than just a mere part of the scenery.  While most creature actors are stiff in their performances, Jones knows the limitations of the make-up and isn't afraid to create more fully fleshed-out characters through his pantomime expressions.

Remember these creeps from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush"?  Doug Jones is the gentleman in the front.

Abe Sapien from Hellboy

The Silver Surfer from the Fantastic Four sequel

The terrifying "Pale Man" in Pan's Labyrinth 

The Pale Man strikes!

El Fauno (The Faun) from Pan's Labyrinth

An interesting factoid:  Jones plays El Fauno (The Fuan) in Pan's Labyrinth.  It took 5 hours for artists to apply the prosthetic make-up.  Apparently, he could only see through the make-up's nose holes while playing the character.  The facial expressions of El Fauno were created using remote controlled mechanisms within the make-up.  The noises made by the mechanisms were very loud, so loud in fact that Jones couldn't hear the other actor he was to share scenes with.  In order to interact appropriately with the other actor, he had to memorize her lines in addition to his own.  An additional challenge was that Jones had to say his lines in Spanish (a language he does not speak) so that when his performance was overdubbed later by the character's voice actor their performances would match up correctly.  So...  not only did the poor guy have to endure hours of wearing uncomfortable make-up and prosthetics, but he also had to act while not being able to see or hear while speaking in a foreign language!  What a guy!

Goofing off behind the scenes... of Pan's Labyrinth 

Abe Sapien again in Hellboy:  The Golden Army
In the first Hellboy film, Jones played the character of Abe Sapien physically, but the character's voice was provided by David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame.  When Pierce didn't return for the second Hellboy movie, Jones stepped in and now also supplies the fish man's voice in the Hellboy animated series.

The Angel of Death from Hellboy:  The Golden Army

I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Jones at a convention just a year or so ago.  Even though I had seen him in behind the scenes footage of his various films I was taken aback by just how tall and slender he is (and not simply because of my own hobbit-like stature).  More importantly, I was pleasantly surprised at just how jovial Jones is.  He took the time to talk to every fan, was more than willing to pose with them for pictures (he jumped on one guys back for a photo op), and embraced them in a warm hug as if he knew them his whole life.  It's very refreshing to meet an artist who genuinely enjoys what he does and is so appreciative of his fan base.

On permanent display in the Cryptic Corridor...

The man...  The myth...  The legend.  (No, not me)

You can find more information about the actor and his films on his website:

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