Abe Sapien Returns

Abraham Sapien returned in Hellboy: The Golden Army. Jones reprised the role, and the creature design was largely kept the same, although lighter color tones and different schemes were used for certain areas of the skin. Although the design was the same, the much larger onscreen presence throughout the film dictated a different approach to the make-up process.

The plan was to cover more of Jones’ body, so that less of his skin would have to be airbrushed on — also due to the request from Del Toro to make Abe “more muscular this time around.” The longer shooting schedule also dictated that the make-up should be applied in less time than before: covering the actor in pre-painted make-up appliances saved time, compared to painting his skin. The core of the sculpture was also shaved down, creating a tighter fit and avoiding foam wrinkles. Jones’ skin was kept uncovered (and thus painted) in articulation areas (such as the wrists) where the foam would fold unrealistically.

The artists of Spectral Motion had the chance to take advantage of the experience on the second Fantastic Four film, for which they devised a Silver Surfer body suit and make-up for Doug Jones to wear. Elizalde said: “we found that the one-piece pull-on suit was pretty handy to get Doug in and out quickly, with some effort of course; it’s never easy to put a rubber glove on somebody’s body, but based on that experience, I asked my crew to make the suit so that it would be more akin to the Silver Surfer and not to the glue-on pieces that we used on the first film. Part of the reason for that was because Abe spends so much time not wearing a shirt in the second film. In the first film, we had a number of days, maybe 10 to 15 days where Abe was seen without his shirt. In this movie, it was at least twice that much, so there were a lot more shooting days where Abe was seen shirtless, so we wanted to reduce the application time.”


Jones as Abe on the set of The Golden Army.

The special effects team built a ‘pull-on’ suit, painted by Neil Winn — who had the original Abe’s head and production stills from the first film at disposal for reference. Abe’s head, hands and feet were obtained from moulds from the first film version. The same team that had applied the Abe make-up on the first film returned in the same roles, with the addition of Nora Capas. Though it decreased application time, the suit generated new practical issues of its own. Elizalde continues: “it was one of those things where a lot of time was spent coming up with the perfect sculpture, and then the engineering part of it sort of got pushed back a little bit, so it wasn’t completely 100% seamless in the end, so Thom [Floutz] had to do a lot of on-set chasing with little blenders and patches and a lot of cab-o-sil and pros-aide mix. Ideally, it would have been better to have something that was intended originally, which was something that would make our lives a little bit easier.”

Special thanks to Joe Nazzaro, who contributed previously unused interview content; absolutely invaluable!

For more pictures of Abe, visit the Monster Gallery. For a look at Abe’s original appearance, visit Abraham Sapien.

Next: Mister Wink

About the monster philologist

I'm always bored and monsters were the first thing to entertain me

Posted on 18/04/2020, in Movie Monsters and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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