In August 2004, Doug Jones signed to work in the movie adaptation of the phenomenally successful video game, DOOM. In it he plays three different versions of the mutated 'Imps', which meant working once more with the Oscar™ winning Stan Winston Studios, and with old friend Brian Steele, also working under prosthetics.
Principal photography took place in Prague, Czech Republic, from October 2004 to January 2005 under the direction of Andrzej Bartkowiak. The stars are Karl Urban, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Rosamund Pike.
What follows is a personal record of Doug's thoughts, comments and stories during the making of the film.
Saturday, 30th October 2004
Laurie did her usual tearful wave from the front door of our house as the limo driver whisked me away to the airport. I was wearing the burgundy sweatsuit she gave me a few years ago with the word "NO" embroidered over the left breast (she says I have trouble saying that word, so she had it sewn to me), which has become my favorite "If I'm a movie star, then I don't have to dress up to travel" outfit. I do miss that woman when I'm away.
After the gas-brake-gas-brake driver dropped my motion-sick head off at the terminal, I wasn't sure if I should tip him or vomit on his shoe. Tipping seemed more appropriate, but vomiting would have felt better.
With a total of 11 hours in the lap of Virgin Atlantic luxury, I arrived here at the Prague Hilton. I have a roomy corner suite with a gorgeous view, and half of the staff from my "Hellboy" stay are still here. Kind of like when Norm walked into the "Cheers" Bar, I kept hearing "Dahg!!" around every corner (That's a Czech person saying Doug). How nice and familiar. And yes, Patrik, the perfect waiter who always remembered my ginger ale before I asked for it, is now managing the Executive Lounge.
But here's my favorite moment of the journey. With a 3 hour layover connection in London, I was passing the time in the lovely first class lounge at Heathrow airport. I walked up to the self serve snack/drink bar, and while I was standing there, a very dignified British gent approached.
He politely asked me "Is that orange juice?" as he pointed to one of many pitchers.
"Yes, I believe it is," I answered.
Without another beat, he said, "I'll have two please."
Wait ... What? Oh bless his heart, he thinks I work here. But you know what, it was much quicker and less embarrassing to simply pour the man two glasses of O.J. and wish him a great day, than to try explaining how a red-eyed, five o'clock-shadowed fellow in a sweatsuit with "NO" written on it probably doesn't work in an airline lounge.
Thursday, 11th November 2004
So the filming begins. My first of 3 Imps has been shot all in a sewer set, up to my thighs in murky water. Most of the cast hunting me down with big guns at the ready.
A MOMENT ON SET WITH DOUG:
After the forgivably short 30 minutes getting into costume, and doing take after take of various lurks, lunges, and scampers through the water, the First Assistant Director comes up to my face to ask, "How are you doing in there, Doug?"
Doug THINKS: My thighs are about to give out, the bridge of my nose is killing me, my neck has a crick in it, I can't see, I can barely hear, my legs are water-logged and pruning, I have sweat in my left eye, my ribs are about to snap, and this may just be the job that actually kills me.
Doug SAYS: "Great."
But the guys from Stan Winston Studios (the Oscar winning creature makers) are taking VERY good care of me, and have designed deliciously creepy Imps for me to play.
Friday, 3rd December 2004
AND WHAT ABOUT "THE ROCK"????
I don't know how to describe meeting Dwayne Johnson for the first time. I've met a lot of famous people over the years, but I stood there dumbstruck as I looked at the most perfect man on planet earth. Seriously, I don't think he's real. I kept looking for the extension cord that plugged him into the wall. He has to be an android. Honestly, the most flawless person I've ever seen up close. And don't worry "Rock" fans, he is THE nicest person imaginable in his position. You wouldn't be disappointed.
AND THE OTHERS?
Karl Urban is a more quiet, pensive fellow, and VERY professional. He and I had to work out a little stunt hit with the butt of his gun, and with me almost blind, he was so patient and forgiving. I knew we finally got it looking good when after hearing "CUT", people yelled, "IS DOUG OK!?!?!?" Karl was very charming during a chat we had between shots, as he told me how "Lord Of The Rings" changed his life. Hello ... I guess so.
And for you Brits, Ben Daniels is a gem. So good humored as I repeatedly chomped on his neck. After a few takes, he wasn't sure if he should be scared of me or ask me out. How grotesque was I, laughing with fake blood on my monster teeth.
Rosemund Pike is quite gorgeous up close, and very, very professional. We had a chat one day agreeing on the wonders of Arnica cream on bruises and skin abrasions. What else would you expect a girl and a guy in an imp suit to talk about?
Thursday, 9th December 2004
I'm exiting the elevator in the Hilton lobby the other morning at about 7am to go to the set.
(CUE THE DREAMY MUSIC)
When up walks Dwayne Johnson. "Hey Bro", he says with that perfect smile, in workout wear.
"Hi Dwayne ...You've already been to the gym today?"
"Na, I just tried, but they don't open 'til now, and I'm going to the set," he replied.
"Oh me too ... I'm going to be giving somebody some what-for in the sewer today," I announced proudly.
Dwayne chuckled and said, "alright, you give it to 'em, buddy."
(Woo Hoo, lookie at me, walking throught the lobby with an icon called "The Rock," and we're both talking like buddies as we head off to work on a movie for the day. Yeah, life is good.)
As we both exit the building, Dwayne sees his driver waiting by his Mercedes. "Have a great day, Bro," Dwayne waves.
"You, too, Dwayne!"
Dwayne hops into his Mercedes S-Class.
And I hop into my Mercedes ... mini van with 4 other people.
(CUE THE RECORD SCRATCH AS THE MUSIC STOPS)
Oh THAT's right ... I'm not The Rock. Alright, life is still good, and Universal is treating me very well on the film. But I guess the rubber-suited monster guy didn't warrant his own driver on this one. I can take that in.
[Later that week, Doug got the call that he would be heading home to Los Angeles a week early due to a well-planned shooting schedule. While at home, he visited the world-famous HELLSITE, the official Message Board for HELLBOY, the movie. As a regular on the board (look for him under his board name, 'Movie Abe'), he left a Christmas message for fans, which is reproduced here with his permission]
Christmas Eve , 24th December 2004
Can I just say ... I'M THANKFULLY HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!!!
.... But only until January 2nd, when I go BACK to Czech-Land to finish up this flick by the end of the month.
I just want to lavish some love onto all you faithful Fan-Sapiens ... I LOVE YOU!!!!! You have no idea how my heart sings when I get the chance to visit here, and see all the beautiful things you sweet souls are saying. And I can't even utter words about that t-shirt design, Kusanivy!!! Such a compliment that I couldn't possibly deserve!
I have lots of e-mails from some of you who are still waiting for a personal reply. Thank you soooo much for your patience, while I heal up from this first leg of the "Doom" shoot. I'm making it my 2005 resolution to get back to all of you, answered questions and all!
Before I go, may I share a quick moment with you from my last week in Prague? While walking on the chilly cobblestone streets of "Old Town" amidst the hustle bustle of crazed shopping tourists, I noticed a young fellow sitting at the corner of a building, slumped over in a wheelchair with his hands curling off in unnatural directions. On his lap was a box of honeycomb beezwax candles and a sign that read 20Kc (the price). Thankfully, I had a 20Kc coin, and I squatted down in front of the young man. Not knowing if he understood English at all, I showed him the coin as I dropped it in the box, took one candle, placed my hand on his left cheek and said, "God Bless You, Child." He looked up at me with a pair of beautiful blue eyes that couldn't both look the same direction at the same time, and smiled with a sound coming out of him that was neither English nor Czech. With a big smile back at him, I had to walk away before I burst into tears.
Let us never take our varying states of health, or our plentiful blessings for granted. There's a sweet young man in Prague who would trade places with most of us in a heartbeat.
There's Love For You At Christmas and Throughout 2005!! ---> Dougie
[Doug returned to Prague on 2nd January 2005 to continue with the final hitch of filming DOOM - the story continues ...]
Saturday, 8th January 2005
Well, my little Christmas break from filming was fun-filled with family, church activities, and writing some memoirs for a book on obscure films.
And now that I'm back in Prague, I have decided that I know what real fear is: It's when you are standing on a movie set having squibs (those little explosive bits that when triggered look like bullet hits) attached all down the front of your Imp suit, and the 2 Czech guys putting them on start talking to each other in their language with concerned looks on their faces as one of them gestures toward your groin area ... they shrug their shoulders and walk away.
Feeling my fear?
Friday, 14th January 2005
My day? … Let's see … how was my day:
FIRST - I asked a 23 year old breakfast waiter at the Hilton when he was going to make an honest woman out of the girl he's been living with, and he asked me what I thought about all that after my own 20 plus years of marriage. I'm no expert, and I think that's why he wanted to hear from me.
THEN - I was off to work with an added job description of "Zombie Movement Coach", because the producers are just sure that the stunt people and dancers they've hired locally wouldn't "get it" without me being there to instruct (we'll just let them believe that ... can you picture what my face did when they asked me?) Thankfully, the brilliant Czech dancer/choreographer Ladislav Beran (whom I knew as 'Kroenen' when we co-starred together in "Hellboy") was also called in, and with his understanding of my Imp movement and his understanding of the Czech language, we were able to explain to all the zombies where they were in their physical evolution and we tapped into the actor part of the dancer's brains.
THEN - After thanking me for being one of the few who talk to him, a 20-something production assistant from Iraq told me his long, very involved story about how he just got out of there 8 months ago, including two arrests with jail time, his fears for his family and missing friends, and his passion for filmmaking. His main worry is that Americans think they are all terrorists, and I assured him we knew better, just like how all Americans don't live in mansions.
THEN - A 21 year old Czech background actor (who had obviously looked me up on the net) cornered me to talk all about his love of sci-fi/comic book movies, and how he wants into the creature effects business. After only minutes into him asking me all about "Hellboy", I'm hearing about his abandoning father, a physically abusive step-dad, a girlfriend he found in bed with his best friend AND the friend's girlfriend, his venture to a gay bar to see if that would work out better for him, a failed suicide attempt, drug use to ease the pain, and finally, how he's been clean and sober now for 4 months. What he really seemed to want was to have 'Abe Sapien' from "Hellboy" cup his face and tell him I'm proud of him and that God gave him life for a purpose.
THEN - after doing a documentary interview segment, I checked in on the stunt zombies, who were chewing on raw meat that they were pulling off of a pile of bloodied up background actors, and saw that they were moving just like I told them (I so wish I was kidding about this, but how could I have made that up).
THEN - Back at the Hilton after work, I asked a 21 year old waiter in the executive lounge how he was, and he launched into a story about how in a drunken stupor he had deflowered his virgin girlfriend, and now she has some kind of infection in her private bits with a doctor saying it "could" be that he is carrying an STD without symptoms of his own. He said that he's been telling God he'll pray every day if this isn't true. I told him I'd join in the prayer … especially if it IS true.
THEN - I finally caved in and went out to a pub with two of our Czech stand-in's from the movie who had been asking repeatedly for such a night. Several of their friends came along, and while most of them were at the football table, I asked the one left sitting with me (the 21 year old who looks 14) about his family ... While sipping on my Pepsi, I heard all about the physically abusive alcoholic dad who went missing after the mom divorced him, and now they think he is the unidentifiable body that was found in the woods last year ... he was wanted by some bad people for unpaid debts. I wish you could have seen this young man's face as I told him how proud I am of him for not falling into his father's footsteps, and how God's hand is on his future.
Seriously ... all in ONE day. I wonder at the beginning of any location shoot what's in store, and what my real purpose in being there might be. Notice how little the movie itself is mentioned above.
I fell into bed back at the Hilton, so very thankful for the life I was born into, what I've learned from my own ugly mistakes, and praying up a blue streak for the precious souls I had the privilege of mingling with that day. I wonder what tomorrow will be ...
(And you thought Laurie and I didn't have kids).
Thursday, 3rd February 2005
"Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a picture wrap on Doug Jones!" (followed by applause from the crew, and maybe the sound of a champagne bottle being uncorked) is what an actor usually hears at the end of his last day filming a movie …
… but not this time.
Because my last day was on the 3rd unit of what had become a 4 unit shoot (unheard of), the assistant directors couldn't make that announcement without knowing if ALL units were finished with me. But I knew I was done.
After the brilliant Stan Winston creature team took me out of my Imp suit for the last time, I returned to the studio to find all the house lights on and everyone gone, except the janitors.
… um … well … I guess that's it then.
But I did have the chance for proper good-byes at the film's wrap party a couple of nights later. A big broo-ha-ha at a swanky night club right on the river of old town Prague. Congratulatory hugs given to director Andrzej, actors Karl, Rosamund, and the rest (except Dwayne, who was ill), and giant TV screens had a slide show of still photos from the film, featuring several sexy Imp pictures. Yes, that would be me. Looking at these, it finally set in that it was all over, and "Hmm ... looks like we really made a big movie here." Then moving outside to the large terrace, we watched a fireworks display shot over the river with the Charles Bridge as a backdrop. Simply Dazzling. Then it was back inside where I danced the night away with the wild abandon of a high school kid at his prom.
"Who is that tall guy, dancing like an idiot?"
"Oh, that's Doug Jones. He played all the Imp Creatures."
"Ah … right."
(An actual conversation from the edge of the dance floor)
Finally at 3am, I wrapped my drenched-with-sweat skinny self in all my winter wear, and started my final walk through the city of Prague back to the hotel. It was surreal how the usually pedestrian-filled streets (I'm talking Disneyland-crowded) were left empty at this time of night, leaving my footsteps to sound like horseshoes on the cobblestones as they echoed off the clock tower of Old Town Square … clip-clop-clip-clop. And how poetic it was to be on the historic Charles Bridge all by myself in the crisp night air. No street musicians, no vendors. Just me. For the first time, I could hear the river rushing underneath as I gazed at the Prague Castle, lit up on the hill. Yes … magical.
A favorite part of this whole "Doom" shoot was watching my relationships with the Hilton staff transform over the past 3 months. In the executive lounge, it went from "May I have your room number please?" … to "Good morning, Mr. Jones" … to the waitresses bounding at me for their hug, squealing, "Dougie's here!!" and the waiters thumping on their chests while saying "Verd to yer mathah, yo!" I don't know which is funnier; hearing "word to your mother, yo" with a Czech accent, or knowing that it was taught to them by a 44 year old white guy.
The next morning as I said my tearful good-byes to the Hilton executive level staff, who had taken such good care of me, I walked away with 5 parting gifts from various waiters and receptionists. I already miss those kids.
While reclining on the plane ride home to L.A., I did my usual damage assessment, but thankfully, there's not much to report. Just bruised thumbs from repeated stunt falls onto a metal grated floor after taking blank bullet wounds to my Imp head last week. Oh yeah, I'm all about the glamour. I ended up being blown to bits a total of 4 times, bless my heart. Anyone who doesn't much care for me will LOVE watching this movie (cue the announcer: Doug Jones as four Imps, dying four bloody deaths … in "Doom" … at theatres everywhere August 2005).
I decided that I do love travelling in first class, but that I don't always enjoy other first class passengers. I overheard 3 people near me: 1 - A woman wearing a diamond big enough to ice-skate on was on her cell phone to her driver in L.A. making sure he brings the bigger car for her "12 pieces of luggage." 2 – Michelle Pfeiffer's publicist was on her cell phone trying to convince Michelle not to trouble herself with a "small Italian magazine interview." 3 - A lawyer behind me sent his potato skins back because "they taste like crap" … "Can you be more specific, sir?" asked the very sweet flight attendant … "They just taste like crap" was his final answer. Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself, "Woo Hoo, free movies and all the food I want!"
My life has been truly enchanted at times, so please don't ever let me spoil it by becoming one of those 3 people.
As the limo driver set my ONE piece of luggage down on the front step of our house, I opened the door to the waft of a glorious aroma. Instead of the traditional peanut butter & jelly greeting, the lovely Mrs. Jones had made my other favorite … tuna casserole. It's the simple things. So good to squeeze that gorgeous woman again.
So this is me signing off. Ever-so thankful to be blessed with another insane adventure, and ever-so thankful to have you to share it with. Seriously, THANK YOU for slogging through all my silly stories. I owe you.
There's Love ---> Your Very Own "Imp Daddy," Dougie
Copyright © 2005 Doug Jones. All rights reserved.
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