Some people are just all...bendy. Twisty. Just slightly ‘off’ looking enough that if they have the acting bug, they end up getting to play the most bizarre characters; often those that require hours upon hours of makeup work. Just ask Doug Jones
, the guy you’ll probably recognize as the creepy limb stretching ice cream man in the trailers for the upcoming film “Legion”. It’s not that he gets the big roles all the time, but he certainly gets some memorable ones. I’m not forgetting this image anytime soon...
Doug is an unsung hero of the monster suit/CG acting school of modern day Hollywood. A student of mime (who somehow avoided being beaten for it) and contortion, he’s squeezed into some of the most iconic roles you never knew were played by the same guy. Let’s take a look at a few of his more familiar faces....
1999 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer - “Hush”
Doug played the scariest character ever to appear in the popular series, the lead ‘gentlemen’, a well-dressed demon who steals the voices of everyone in Sunnydale so no one can scream while they harvest human hearts. The largely dialogue-less episode was nominated for an Emmy for Best Original Writing but should have gotten a nod from somewhere for Doug’s frightening turn as one of the best monsters ever to come from the tube. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I had a wake-up-screaming nightmare about the ‘gentlemen’ which would have been less troubling if I hadn’t been sleeping next to my brand-new girlfriend. Even in retrospect, she didn’t think it was funny. Go figure.
2004 - Hellboy/ 2008 - Hellboy II
Even though Frazier’s brother (David Hyde Pierce) did the actual voice for the aquatic psychic field agent, Abe Sapien, it was Doug under the layers of latex who had to suffer under the daily makeup chair for what I can only imagine must have been for hours and hours. Abe’s mysterious non-human origin required an affected and particular physical performance, ; one Doug detailed perfectly, making Abe one of the most likable characters in the series. In the second film, Pierce got kicked to the curb and Guillermo let Doug voice the character himself, as well as playing two other heavily made-up creatures, “The Angel of Death” and the “Chamberlain”. I’ll bet no one on the set except the 4 am call make-up artist had the vaguest idea what Doug actually looked like.
2006 - Pan’s Labyrinth
The visual image that stuck with audiences the most from Guillermo del Toro’s acclaimed dark fairytale, was unquestionably Doug in the suit as the “Pale Man”, a child devouring creature who menaces the film’s heroic child. Doug must have made an impression on Guillermo, who also directed him in “Hellboy”, because he also played “The Faun” in this film, a creature who guides the child on her path through the three tasks she needs to complete in order to become a princess of a fantasy realm. For the record, the exact same thing happened to me. Twice.
2007 - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Yes, we all know by now that this film was pretty much crap, but the Surfer looked extremely cool. That was at least partially because it was Doug Jones wearing the CG enhanced silver suit in the movie. Of course, pretty much anyone would look cool with Lawrence Fishburne’s voice coming out of their mouth. Oh wait, I forgot about Fishburne himself in “Armored”. Never mind.
2008 - Quarantine
Most certainly this practically-shot-for-shot remake of the amazing Spanish horror film “Rec” doesn’t bear watching versus it’s progenitor, but if you’re one of those strange folks who just can’t do subtitles, it wasn’t a half-bad re-do. Both films are noted for their final monster, the tall, thin, spindly creature of mysterious origins who appears wholly on night vision. Despite a very brief screen time, it was one of the most frightening images of the film. Doug snatched the role in this American version (Korey and I got to interview the original Spanish actor here
) and once again delivered a memorable role. One that I sometimes would LIKE to forget, as I like to sleep occasionally, but memorable nonetheless.
So what’s next for ol’ Doug after his screeching ice cream man of death in “Legion”? He’s not gonna keep out of the make-up chair for long, I’d imagine, ; not with his frequent collaborator Guillermo being in charge of “The Hobbit” movies. Del Toro has even already announced that one of his projects after the Tolkien films, a version of “Frankenstein”, would have Doug as the monster. Perhaps for his discussed version of “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, assuming he’s in it as well (probably a safe bet) we’ll see Doug get to play not JUST the beastly Hyde, but the makeup-less Jekyll as well? He can only hope.