‘Hellboy’ actor Douglas Tait Discusses His Role

ATM: On the supernatural side in the film, what is their highest arch or moment of the day?

DT: For my character, all the motivation in life is to take out revenge on Hellboy for what he did to me. And for how he humiliated me. From the moment I wake up, this is my motivation. This is all that is on my mind throughout the entire day in this world.

ATM: What qualities are attached to a person who is out to seek revenge?

DT: There is a lot of anger attached to this. I had a better life before he did what he did. Because of this, I’ve had a bad life. It has left a mark on me.

ATM: Is the perspective of what a bad life is to your character the same of what a bad life is in a human’s eye or is it worst?

DT: It could be the same. My character is scarred for life because of him. For instance, if someone hurts you bad as a person and scars you, then there could be anger from the person who did this to you. You would want to seek revenge. No matter if this person is in jail or not, it is the same feeling of wanting to kill this person. I would say it is like us human beings if they were hurt. There face was scarred and messed up. You have to look in the mirror knowing this was not the ‘you’ that you used to be. This would be anger for someone who is a Christian and can let it go. You are human so that you would carry this anger.

ATM: Would you associate your character Gruagach with being emotionally imbalanced or balanced?

DT: Emotionally imbalanced. He is very scary looking on the outside, but he is deep on the inside. He is not balanced. This could come out in a burst of anger in a moment’s notice.  

ATM: If he is seeking revenge, then what is the opposite side of revenge?

DT: Peace would be the opposite side of revenge in trying to make amends. He does not want to do at all.

ATM: When someone only relies on the emotions that they have let a person put on them, how detrimental is this to their identity?

DT: It is completely detrimental to them. If someone controls how you live your life and how you feel, this is detrimental. This is related to humans. We do this a lot unless we can take a step back and say, “I do not care what this person says or does to me. I am not going to let them control how I live every day. I am not going to let this ruin my day.” This can ruin you as a person. It is as bad as my character because it weighs down on him. I have never thought about these questions you are asking. They are very different and interesting.

ATM: Technically, your character’s outward person is looked at as a feared person. He is seen as alpha and controlled person, but inward he is not in control. He is inferior while Hellboy takes the roll as the superior.

DT: He is scared of Hellboy. He knows that even though he is strong, Hellboy is strong both mentally and physically. He fears Hellboy even though he puts on a tough persona. I said this, and this is how I played the character, “He is like a beaten dog inside.” He is humiliated and has no confidence in himself. He does look like a beast. He can do damage to people, but inside he is the opposite of this.

ATM: Explain Hellboy’s relationship with self-love through your character’s eyes.

DT: Hellboy is an example of life in general. He is discriminated against based on how he looks. Even though he is doing the right things about helping people, these same people are the ones who judge, discriminate, and fear him. You can relate this in life with a lot of different ethnic groups who have this same feeling. You get someone who is doing very well in life like a police officer. They are doing great things, but they can still be discriminated against just like Hellboy. He is helping society out. He is taking out monsters. He struggles with this. You see him in the comics and film drinking a lot. He is trying to mass the pain he feels inside by not being accepted by society from the way he looks. He cannot control this.

ATM: When you allow someone to dominate your emotions, metaphorically this becomes the vehicle of how you run your life. This is like living a meaningless life.

DT: Yes, it is living a meaningless life. He could have been doing things more positive and better. It is also his fuel that keeps him going and motivated to live another day. It does help in a sense, but in the end, who wants to live this way and have anger fuel your day every day. It is something that is hurting him for sure.

ATM: Hellboy is struggling with being ostracized by society. Whereas, your character is being driven by what Hellboy did to him. These are suggested characteristics of the term nihilism. This is feeling like there are no positive aspects to living. In the film and in society, we as humans, when we let people’s thoughts and words control us – this person’s life becomes meaningless. You have become like a remote control. You have no control over your life.

DT: I agree with this. Now thinking about it there are similarities to my character and Hellboy. Hellboy just chooses to do things better, but who knows inside, he might have pain just like I do. It is true. If we let anyone control us, then we are not going to live a fulfilled life. Especially if they are evil and negative people. Most times this is the case if they are controlling you.

ATM: But then it makes you think who is the superior, inferior, or alpha person. If a person is evil enough to do something to anybody, then this is them also being emotionally imbalanced. They are also reacting to you. It is sort of like a tug of war emotionally with your character and Hellboy. It is a tug of war of self-identity and power.

DT: Who is to say if Hellboy is any better than my character. He helps others more than I do. He is using his power over me. In the comics, it is justified more for him to do this to me. At the same time, as an actor, you never look at your character as being bad. There is always a reason for what you are doing. Even if you play a murder, then there is always a justification for it. If you start judging your character as bad, then you are not doing your job as an actor. Even a Jeffrey Dahmer would never look at himself as a bad person; he feels like he is doing what he needs to do. But we look at it as this guy is insane and what is wrong with him. They do not see themselves as bad. It is crazy.

ATM: People on the other side of viewing your character put a metaphorical mirror up to your character. They put labels on your character and call them this and that. However, you as the actor pull the mirror away to know the person and get into why the character does what he does. This is like having no judgment. While your actors are doing this, you actors are seeping into a world as if we did not have judgment.

DT: True. There is always a reason why somebody is the way they are. Even if you meet someone on the street or at the store, they are angry at you. You say, “I did not do anything.” If you were to look in their life, then you would see this person has this, and that is going on. As an actor, you see a script and find the reason he is doing what he is doing. You play this and do not judge it. You take away the judgment. You live in the moment of seeing. It is interesting to think about these things. This is not a typical interview. Your interviews are different. It is interesting to think about things in these terms.

ATM: Your character is from British folklore. The modern name for it is Brownies. They come out at night.

DT: Yes, all the creatures are hidden during the day and appear at night. It was brilliantly written by Mike Mignola who created it 25 years ago. It is an interesting world. I did not know anything about the comics before starting this, but I had seen the movie. I learned more as being a part of this film. It is useful.

ATM: What American values do you think your character evoke?

DT: Oh gosh, this is a tough question. This is a hard one to answer. When thinking of values, I think of positive things. The one thing I could say is being loyal. Obviously, not everyone is loyal in America, but I try to be loyal as a person. I see this as an American thing in being loyal to your country. If you are not happy with your leadership, but you try to be loyal as an American. My character tries to be loyal to the Blood Queen character. I can relate it to this.

ATM: How does your character show some British values such as liberty and mutual respect for one another?

DT: I definitely have a lot of respect for the Blood Queen. This is a person I really look up to and have respect for throughout the film. She is the person I am with throughout the film. You can relate this to my character.

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