David Harbour walks EW through the giant battles and dark witches seen in the new footage

By Christian Holub
December 19, 2018 at 02:23 PM EST
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  • Movie

Apocalypse is on the horizon, which means it’s time to choose sides. Unfortunately, that’s a particularly difficult task for Hellboy (David Harbour) in the upcoming movie that shares his name. On the one hand, he’s an experienced monster hunter who has spent years battling to keep the human world safe from supernatural threats. On the other hand, he himself is a big red demon who is destined to bring about the end of the world. It’s a tricky balance that’s hard for anyone to figure out — particularly the trigger-happy human soldier who fires a shot at Hellboy at the beginning of the film’s first trailer.

“He’s really going through a late adolescence,” Harbour tells EW. “It comes from this relationship with his father, who on the one hand claims to love him and on the other hand lies to him about certain things and wants him to be this weapon in this world. It’s the fundamental paradox: ‘How are you feeling today, my serial killer of your fellow beings?’ Like wait, you want me to be this brutal machine but then you care how I feel?”

Hellboy’s adoptive father is Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), who founded the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development (BPRD) to draw “a line in the sand” and “fight the forces of darkness.” Those forces of darkness are on full display in the new trailer.

The movie’s story is adapted relatively faithfully from the three Hellboy miniseries (Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury) that were written by creator Mike Mignola and illustrated by Duncan Fegredo. As in those comics, the villain of the movie is Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), a powerful witch who wants to unite her monstrous people against the human race that has oppressed and marginalized them for so long. As Harbour previously told EW, Nimue’s reasoning actually resonates a bit with Hellboy as he goes through his “am I human or am I demon?” existential crisis.

But if he wants to save the world, Hellboy will have to defeat a lot of giants, fairies, and witches. The trailer displays some of these foes, and eagle-eyed viewers may even have caught the shot of the chicken-legged hut that belongs to the Baba Yaga, the great witch of Russian folklore and a primary enemy of Hellboy in the Darkness Calls comic.

“If you’re a real fan of the Hellboy comics, we’re very devoted to that universe,” Harbour says. “Baba Yaga’s in it, and there are almost frame-for-frame recreations of these scenes. I love that. It is like the comic come to life. There’s a lot of CGI, but the majority of what we’re doing is practical in a certain way. There are scenes in the movie where it’s me and Baba Yaga, and it’s two practical monsters coming together and having a scene together. She’s crazy, the thing they do with her is amazing. There’s other stuff that isn’t practical, but we always have elements of the practical. I think you see a clip of the giant fight, and at one point he picks up one of their giant axes, and that was practical. A lot of the stunts were practical, and those things give it real weight and gravity. You feel that it’s me picking up this thing, so it’s messy in a certain way.”

The film’s makeup artist and “special creature designer,” Joel Harlow, tells EW that comic art from Mignola and Fegredo was a big influence on the look of the film, though practical touches were needed to make the various monsters legible in a realistic world.

“Duncan is an incredible artist, as is Mike Mignola. What I tried to do was take the illustrated Hellboy creature designs and bring them completely into the real world,” Harlow tells EW. “Hellboy is obviously a comic book character but giving him realistic additions like body hair and scarring helps to set him apart from, not only what has come before but also the two-dimensional world. It helps to make him feel real and in turn lends itself to the darker world that this film represents. Ultimately, I just want the fans to be happy with what we did with him.”

Watch the full trailer above. Hellboy hits theaters on April 12.

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