Interview date: 11/05/2008
Run date: 11/11/2008
Although it’s the big, red guy with the Right Hand of Doom who ultimately makes the biggest impact in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” one shouldn’t undersell the strength of the film’s villain: Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss. It was Goss’s second film with director Guillermo Del Toro, having worked with him several years earlier on a different sequel (“Blade II”), but Goss has been steadily working as an actor since the turn of the millennium, working alongside such notable names as Samuel L. Jackson (“The Man”), William Hurt and Donald Sutherland (“Frankenstein”), and Leslie Grantham (“Charlie”). Okay, so you might need to be British to really appreciate the coolness of that last one…but, then, if you’re British, then you probably remember Goss from when he and his brother were famous pop stars in the UK in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. How fortunate for you, then, that Bullz-Eye took the opportunity to chat with him about both these facets of his career.
Bullz-Eye: Hey, Luke, how’s it going?
Luke Goss: Hey, mate, how are ya?
BE: So how crazy was it to find yourself working with Guillermo Del Toro again?
LG: It was crazy. On “Blade II,” I was pinching myself then. The only thing was that I was quite intimidated on the first movie. I was kinda, like, very focused and wanted to get it right for him. And then when I got the call for “Hellboy II,” I’d heard that he’d written this part for me, and then I just get this call: “Hey, motherfucker!” (Laughs) That was the greeting. I said, “I know who this is!” He said, “Hey, how are you, man?” And we talked, and he said, “I’m glad you responded to the role.” I said, “Are you kidding me? I didn’t respond to the role. I’m in a Del Toro script, you idiot! How can I respond to it?” I was like a kid in a candy store, being given this script and being in it. So he said, “So I’ll see you in Budapest?” I said, “Yeah. I’ll be there.” It was that simple. It was really, like, one of those moments you see where you think, “It truly can’t be this easy.” But it was. But that was where the easy kind of stopped, y’know, because the prep for that film…learning Gaelic, albeit a tiny bit, it was still kind of working with Hungarian professors to understand ancient Gaelic, plus nine weeks of training, losing weight, learning to use a sword and a spear, the make-up, the eyes and lenses, and working six days a week for nine months.
BE: So no real pressure on you.
LG: No pressure at all. (Laughs) It was amazing, really.
BE: So is it harder or easier to get into a character when you’re all made up like that?
LG: Well, it’s both, you know. It’s easier for me personally because…it’s funny, but I try to avoid roles in make-up. I hate make-up. I’ve done the ones I’ve wanted to do, but that’s three roles out of twenty-five, I think. But the claustrophobia and the itchiness and the discomfort and the tight skin and the panic that sets in that you kind of have to work through…you have to find a place of calm and peace to get through it. But once you get there, then you can say, “Okay, who is this guy?” And once that becomes normal, then it helps on that level. But the other side of the coin is that while you’re getting through that, you’d really better find a way to make all that work before it works. It’s a process. It’s weird, though, because once you get it all done and you’re ready to go, you kind of…for me, with Nuada, I can’t imagine playing him if I just painted. Like, for example, Anna Walton, who played my sister, was painted. There was no foam, no make-up, really; it was a compressor, alcohol-based. I wouldn’t want that, in a weird, perverse turn of way. (Laughs) It’s just that his discomfort and his composure through it was a great assistance with that role.
BE: How is the green-screen work for you? Is it something you adapt to pretty readily, or is it always a challenge?
LG: Well, with this film, it was very rarely used, in a way that you would…like, in a way you see on sets sometimes, where you have lots of things and you’re having to imagine absolutely everything. For example, the Golden Army chamber…? The entire chamber was real. Everything you see was there. Obviously, not the Golden Army itself, of course, but where they come into that chamber, there was a magnificently huge green-screen…like, the size of maybe a five, six, or seven story building. Massive. Like, the entire height of the soundstage. So that kind of created where they come up those steps. But some of those steps were there, and the entire Golden Army chamber…the cogs, the turning wheels, everything you saw on that set, as big as it was. It took up an entire arena, which was the size of the Staples Center or something. It took the entire arena for that one set. So people think, “Okay, so how much of that was real? Did you maybe enhance the back half?” But the entire thing other than…like, if you were looking at it from a 360-degree angle, maybe 40 degrees wasn’t there. The rest was there. So my green-screen thing was…I didn’t have any, really. I mean, the Troll Market, I wasn’t in, and, sure, the skyline behind my head was green screen, but the hotel…? They built that. And they built New York Avenue. When people say to me, “Where do the buildings stop?” They stop where they stop. They built the whole thing.
BE: So it’s a full-fledged epic, in other words.
LG: Yeah, I mean, the sets…they seemed worthy of three pictures. Guillermo loves a set. He’s about controlling his environment, I think. But, yeah, it’s very much an epic.
BE: How would say he’s evolved as a director since the first time you worked with him?
LG: I don’t know. I mean, I always feel so presumptuous saying anything like that. But from my observation, I think he’s the filmmaker that he always was, but I think that what’s changing and what has changed is that people understand who they’re working with more, i.e. studios and the like. So what happens is that he doesn’t have to…okay, this is my guesstimate, but 25% of his time was spent discussing why he wanted to do something, so he could spend the remaining 75% getting on with it. But now he’s a filmmaker who people feel privileged to work with, so he now has all of that time to make his movies. When I was working with him on “Blade II,” I saw that evolution beginning, and I saw the acknowledgment start to show up on set. I could see that we were making “a Guillermo del Toro” movie. And I think he’s becoming more driven as a result of that.
BE: Okay, be honest: did you do “The Man” solely to meet Samuel L. Jackson?
LG: (Instantly and without hesitation) Yeah, of course. Only bloody reason. It certainly wasn’t so I could sit in that car all day. It was weird. When I was doing the face-off scene with him, one time, I just looked at him and said, “You’re Samuel L. Jackson, aren’t you?” (Laughs) ‘Cause we got on really well. And we’re staring at each other, and he’s frowning at me, looking down the barrel of the gun, and what he’s giving me is just the epitome of “the Samuel L. Jackson look.” And I just thought to myself, “How the fuck did this happen?” I wasn’t complaining, though. It was fun working with him.
BE: A few years ago, when you were working on “Charlie,” you said in an interview that typecasting is the best thing that can happen to an actor, because if you’re lucky enough to be stereotyped, then people are recognizing what you have.
BE: Do you still feel that way?
LG: To an extent I do, yeah. Absolutely. I think the trick is that as choice starts to enter the building…like, in my instance, choice is starting to arrive, thankfully. Not entirely, but definitely more and more. I think the trick is, then, to find out how you can make that work in an interesting way that changes for you. Like in “Bone Dry,” trying to make people think you’re the good guy and keeping people off-guard a little bit. You want to try to make things interesting and to realize what you have. I think to fight what you have is nuts. I mean, when I did “Frankenstein,” being that vulnerable and that fragile was good, but it was still based firmly in the roots of what he believed in, so it wasn’t like he was devoid of premise or heart. He had a definite point of view, and he was a smart man that was completely misunderstood based upon his visual. That whole premise, to me, the whole “beauty within” thing, is fascinating…and, also, finding something redeeming or something very human in something that might appear just heinous. I think the responsibility is to try and keep it interesting if you can.
BE: What role that you’ve done would you say is the most underrated, that you wish more people had seen?
LG: I don’t know about underrated, but I wish more people had seen “Charlie.” I enjoyed that role. And, also, “Bone Dry.” I think for me…I did a scene, the cactus scene, that I really analyzed the work. Sometimes it turns out great and something it doesn’t, but I think you get to a point where the filmmakers you work with guarantee a certain level of quality. But with “Bone Dry,” I think we really pulled something off there. It’s a really good thriller. I wish more people had seen that, to be honest.
BE: As one of the handful of Americans who bought and enjoyed Push…
LG: (Starts laughing) Oh, God…
BE: Hey, man, I still love “When Will I Be Famous”!
LG: (Laughs) That’s fantastic!
BE: Why do you think Bros never really made it properly in America?
LG: I think, for one, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it as much now. (Laughs) It was the gods working in my favor, and I thank them very much. But the other reason was that we were signed to Sony and Epic and CBS and all that stuff. And the New Kids on the Block were signed there as well. We were a band before we were signed, but…anyway, they were American, and it was an investment, so the American company went in that direction. But, for instance, when we were pushed in Canada, we had a platinum album in a few weeks. So I think it was just a business thing. They were making a lot of money with the New Kids at the time…and I’m so glad they did. (Laughs) It was fun, though. I had no problem with it. It was a lot of fun, for sure.
BE: I’ve always wondered: was it your decision to write your autobiography (I Owe You Nothing) way back in 1993, or were you kinda pushed to do it?
LG: It was actually mine.
LG: Yeah, but it wasn’t so much…I mean, it was an autobiography, but all the time when I was promoting the book, I kept saying that it saved me a fortune in therapy. ‘Cause I got stolen hard for a load of cash…like, twelve million bucks or something ridiculous…and I just didn’t want to go nuts, so the book was a really good way to keep the crazy demons at bay. And I got through it. There’s nothing like a self-indulgent catharsis to keep from going crazy. But it is kind of ridiculous to write one’s autobiography at 23. Somewhat ridiculous.
BE: You said it, not me.
LG: It was a very candid book. What I intended to do was to write it very honest and then look at the parameters afterwards for my own privacy and not try to implement them while I was writing. What I ended up doing was taking the names out but keeping it brutally candid, even at the expense of showing some vulnerability at that time. So I think at least that it was an honest book.
BE: Is there a particular moment from that era that was completely ridiculous but you look back and think, “That was brilliant”?
BE: Maybe you could do more stage work.
LG: There you go. Some low-end stage work. (Laughs) As far away from Shakespeare I can. You don’t get a lot of underwear doing Shakespeare, do you?
BE: I’m pretty sure Rufus Sewell said something about…no, perhaps I’m remembering it wrong.
LG: Oh, you’re just rubbing it in now. (Laughs)
BE: So how did you come to join the cast of “Tekken”?
LG: I got asked to do it, actually. Steven Paul, the producer who did “Ghost Rider,” with Nicolas Cage, I got asked to go meet him and say, “Hi.” And we chatted, and at the time, I didn’t know if I wanted to play the role the way they wanted. But so we spoke, Steven and I, and we just got on. And he said, “No, I see your point, and let’s make it happen.” And so I went down to Louisiana and made it happen. It was fun, because I did a fight scene in the movie, and I got to do it in one piece, as one-takes. It wasn’t huge, but we worked on it on multiple cameras for about an hour. When it’s cut together, it’ll be cut together from a number of one-takes. It was fun. But the story’s good. There are some great fighters in there, and the way it looks, it’s a really cool-looking picture. I’ve only seen bits right now, but it’s looking very, very, very good. I think they’re going to lock the picture in the next week or two.
BE: Wikipedia has you listed as the executive producer of “Street.” True…?
LG: No, but I was going to. I was involved in that in the early days, but, sadly, there was just some stuff that didn’t work out. Nothing dodgy. It just didn’t pan out. But I am starting to produce. And I’ve written a movie myself, so I’m moving into that as well, so I can feel like a contributor as well as an actor.
BE: Anything else that you’re working on at the moment that you’d like to drop a plug for?
LG: Yeah, actually, I’m doing a movie right now called “Jack Stone.” I just flew into New York from Peru this morning; I’ve only been here a few hours. We’re shooting in Cusco and Lima in Peru, in the mountains and the jungle. It’s like a treasure-hunt movie. And I’m doing a movie, actually, that’s supposedly called “Whiskey River,” and it’s a true story. And, also, “The Man of a Thousand Cuts,” which is a true story set in the ‘40s, a gangster film. But the one I’m really excited about is “Magdalena,” produced by Gail Ann Hurd.
BE: And, actually, that one’s listed on your IMDb page.
LG: Yeah, that one I’m excited about. I mean, that’s moving forward all the time, with the script, the screenplay. It’s in early stages, but it’s being written now, and they’re talking about the first third of next year to start principal photography, which would be really exciting, ‘cause I play a good guy.
BE: No. No way.
LG: I’m sorry. Outrageous, isn’t it? (Laughs) But not a squeaky good guy. I don’t save cats in trees. Well, I might save a cat in a tree. But I’ve not specifically asked for it.
BE: Well, the script’s still being written.
LG: That’s true. “Lose the cats, yeah?” (Laughs)
BE: I’ll keep you on schedule, Luke, but it’s been great talking with you.LG: No, really, thanks for your time. I appreciate it!