Generous, big-hearted, and approaching unnatural levels of charming are all the ordinary traits of the extraordinary man responsible for putting some of biggest movie monsters on the modern screen. Doug Jones is second to none in contemporary creature feature roles. Helping films like the Hellboy franchise and Pan’s Labyrinth skyrocket to success, he’s starred in everything from feature films to music videos. His versatility humbles even the greatest of modern renaissance men. Word truly cannot express the tremendous pleasure I was fortunate enough to have. So beasts and ghoulish geeks stay braced, Doug Jones spills all about his monstrously successful career and up-and-comings.
You do a lot of indie short film. Recently you did Whitestone Motion Pictures The Candy Shop, a metaphor for the sexual exploitation of children. In it you play a sort of corrupt Willy Wonka. You, being the big heart you are, playing such lovable roles like Abe, somehow managed to be incredibly creepy. How do you approach a loathsome or horrific character and what attracts you to short films in general?
“Short films also fall into the category of indie films, even if it’s a feature. I love doing the low-budget shot films and indie features for three reasons. When I say yes to a character or role like that, it starts with a script. I want to see what is the entire story and is it a story that I want to help tell? Does it move me or entertain me in some way? Second is the character. Is it someone that moves me or challenges me? Is it someone I understand the minute I start reading him? Do I know who he is or want him over for dinner? All those things! Third thing is a sit-down coffee date with the director. Whose hands am I going to be in and do I trust those hands?
So when all three of those things come together, that’s when you’ll see me do an indie film or short film or web series that may not be a big studio production. What comes with that, when all that is in place, is a creative artistic project that I just love doing. It comes with a freedom that does not have a studio over it with millions of dollars at stake and nervous people all around worrying about that money. When it’s a low-budget feature that people have scraped together some investors or their kick-starter supporters or whatever it is and wherever they get their money from, when you’re on set with them, the director and writers have complete and entire control. So that’s when you see these little gems come out in film festivals that turn into huge hits like Napoleon Dynamite or Little Miss Sunshine. It’s where you’ve got a film that people just scraped together some money and did whatever the heck they wanted and it was brilliant! It was without worries of product placement or demographics or ‘It’s playing 7 minutes too long as our studies show BLAH BLAH BLAH!’ You don’t have to worry about that with short films.
When it comes to short films I have a few that have become favorites of mine and the people who have seen them. Three that I love, love, love! One is Sudden Death which is a music comedy that is just so funny. When I read the script I laughed and slapped my knee for 20 pages. I met with the director and said ‘I have to be in this film. You are brilliant!’ Another one that is absolutely a favorite and has so many views worldwide that it’s now being packaged as a DVD unto itself as a short film (with plans to make it a feature film) is The Butterfly Circus. Possibly the most beautiful short film I have ever seen. I cry every time I see it. It’s snatching up awards at every single festival it’s playing at.
The Candy Shop specifically is an absolute passion project of mine. Whitestone Productions in Atlanta George is a young film company that all they’ve made so far are short films but they’ve made a bunch of them and they’re all absolutely slick and gorgeous and beautiful and either evoking tears or laughter or something you can take away. I would highly recommend their Candy Shop, which I think is their second to last film. We filled it last summer. The passion behind this was to address a humongous problem that is happening right here under our noses in the United States of America and that is the sexual exploitations and trafficking of minors – children.
You hear about human trafficking and sex trafficking and you think people are being shipped overseas or overseas people are being shipped here. This does happen and it’s hideous! It’s also happening in our own communities where anything from a kid who’s looking at Craig’s list who’s offered a nanny position in another state or city, wooed in by a job offer, and the person who is meeting them says ‘You owe us for the fair to get here and the way you get to work this off is in this brothel.’ That is so common. We’ve also got parents and relatives and foster kids or whatever that are sexually abused and sold to friends. The numbers are staggering! When this was presented to me I thought ‘Oh my gosh! What can we do?’
That’s when Brandon McCormick, who heads the production company there, presented me with this idea. He’d been a fan of mine thankfully for many years as well and sent me an email with a script link attached with their films. I was so impressed with him as a filmmaker and so impressed with this cause that needed to be talked about. It’s not just an awareness film but it’s also a call to action. As a community, as Americans, as parents, brothers, sisters, let’s get our kids off the streets and back into a protected environment. Kids are to be protected, not used!
So The Candy Shop is a palatable film for anybody to watch. We never say the word sex in it. We’ve got, like you said, an evil Willy Wonka character, played by me. I own this candy shop. I lure kids into my candy shop but they never come back out again because I have this big machine downstairs that turns kids into lollypops. Then I put them into my display window upstairs and my customers are all older men. So it’s slightly disturbing when you watch it but you’re not so sure why you’re grossed out but then realize along the way what’s happening.
Even families with kids can watch this. It’s very clean. We don’t cuss once. There’s no nudity or mention of sex, but once you realize what we’re seeing with the movie is ‘Let’s stop turning our children into candy, into a commodity that can be bought and sold. They’re not for that.’ It’s a multi layered problem. You have the kids who are wooed into this. Why are they vulnerable to such behavior? You have parents who are not paying attention to their kids or who are abusing their kids. You’ve got the man who’s collecting money at the end of the day, who’s selling the kids, and then the customer base who are buying the kids. All those layers need to be healed and fixed and redeemed before it’s going to go away.
One of my lines in the Candy Shop is ‘If there wasn’t a need there wouldn’t be so much business, now would there?’ The first thing is that we need to be able to talk about this out loud so that people who are addicted to sex and especially child sex and child pornography don’t just need to be shot in the head. All that will accomplish is you’ll kill one guy who’s got a problem. What they need is rehab, redemption, forgiveness, and healing. Society needs to say ‘You are a sick, sick person. Let’s get you fixed.’ If there’s a path that others can see that they can reach healing and reach redemption, we’re more prone to lure a crowd of people in to get healed as opposed to just killing them one at a time or off in jail to death sentencing. I understand the rage that comes along too. If you’ve been abused or know someone who’s been sold it does make you want revenge and want to go get weapons and kill people. It really makes you want to punish the perpetrator and so I would never begrudge anybody that rage. Let’s have the rage but let’s funnel it to where we can really stop the problem.
The candy shop owner that I played in that was, like any evil character, if you’re going to play him properly, bad guys don’t know their bad guys. You don’t just wake up one day and say ‘You know what, I’m going to create evil today!’ It takes a lifetime of choice making and baby steps to get a character to the place that my Candy Shop character got to. So I played him with his own vulnerabilities, his own sympathetic qualities, his own past and bad choice making, string of things in his past that lead him to where he is today, I tried to put all that back-story behind his eyes so that somehow you can relate to him and yet be grossed out by him at the same time. So there’s a lot of reflecting. What went wrong with him? What gets somebody to that horrific place? I think it was a matter of survival and bad choice making so that he normalized his business and he’s making a lot of money, but if you’re meeting him for the first time it’s ‘Who is this monster?’ So there’s the balance there you try to find.”
And finally, what’s on your plate for up and coming? Hellboy 3?
“Oh! I wish! From your lips to Gods ears! The Hellboy world has always wanted a Hellboy 3. Whether or not we get to make it is the other question. The first two movies made enough money at the box-office to warrant a part three, but not enough to demand a part three. I think that if Guillermo Del Toro or Ron Pearlman or the combination of the two championed this cause and really wanted to make it they probably could. Otherwise there are other things from the Hellboy universe that can stay alive like my character. Abe Sapien can go on because there were spin-off comic books – the BPRD and Abe Sapien comic books. My character could play either movie or TV series and there’s been light talk about all that at the studio level. So things are in development and being tossed about all the time so it’s not a dead world yet but it’s not happening tomorrow either.”
So you would do a solo film?
“Like I said, Abe Sapien is my favorite costumed character I have ever played so to make him come alive again…absolutely! I would jump at the chance. Otherwise up and coming things I have, tons of things in development that are hushed and kind of not talked about. I also get asked about the Silver Surfer quite a bit. There was always plans to make a standalone film for him. There was a script written by J. Michael Straczynski that ended up being never made. My three picture deal with 20th Century Fox comes to a close sometime next year in 2012. That doesn’t mean we can’t revisit just all the negotiations and set plans for three pictures will just have to be re-looked at after that time period. I would love to re-play the Silver Surfer again as well. He’s another top tier favorite character of mine.”
We wanted to express our true gratitude for taking your time out. Thank you so kindly for everything, Doug!
“Well thank you for having me and to anyone who will be reading, please do visit me, I love the Twitter, keep in touch with me there, it is actor Doug Jones on Twitter. On Facebook my personal page is filled up, they won’t let you request me there anymore, but do like my fan page and I do the same status updates there that I do on my personal page and I do interact, so please come find me.”
Follow Max O. Miller on Facebook here