Under the Rubber Mask
You've probably seen Doug Jones in a movie before, but likely not the real thing. That's because he's often hidden beneath prosthetics and make-up—as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, the Silver Surfer in the Fantastic 4 sequel, and both the Faun and Pale Man in the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth.
Guillermo del Toro, who directed both Hellboy films and Pan's Labyrinth, has signed Jones to play the title character for a 2012 remake of Frankenstein, and rumor has it that Jones will be in del Toro's The Hobbit, releasing in two parts in 2011 and 2012.
You'll briefly see more of the real Jones in Legion, a supernatural thriller opening Friday. He only has about 90 seconds of screen time, but as the creepy Ice Cream Man, you'll see his real face—until it contorts into something quite gruesome.
Legion is a wild story in which God, fed up with mankind, sends a legion of angels to wipe out the human race, whose only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in an out-of-the way diner—and in the Archangel Michael, who comes to their aid. Jones, a Christian, knows it's bad theology, but agreed to the gig because its director, Scott Stewart, wanted Jones to be a primary spokesman in promoting the film. Jones saw that as an opportunity to talk to others about God's real plan for mankind.
We talked with Jones about the film, his other roles, and what it's like to mainly be known as the man behind the mask.
Why did you agree to be in a movie that's theologically incorrect?
I was very uneasy about God being the bad guy, but they wanted to use my face and name to help promote the film. Then it became more important to me.
Scott Stewart, the director, is Jewish, and I told him I'm a Christian. When he said this was kind of a mirror to the biblical story of The Flood, I was like, okay, I get it. But I said, "There's been a New Testament written in the meantime with a Messiah and a new covenant, and the wrathful God of the Old Testament is actually benevolent." And he was like, "This movie is more like, let's pretend the New Testament never happened. Would humanity be in a place where they would deserve another flood?" I said, "Well, yeah." So I thought that would be a great conversation starter.
I think back to a discussion I had with Ralph Winter [a Christian producer who has overseen such projects as the X-Men and Fantastic 4 films] when we were making Hocus Pocus in 1992. I asked Ralph how he felt making a movie about witches, and he said, "Doug, they're going to make this movie with or without us. Wouldn't it be better if we were onboard?" In a producer's position, he could make decisions to guide the story away from glorifying witchcraft and making the story more goofy and fun. But that conversation with Ralph was ringing in my head when I was offered the role in Legion. They're going to make this movie with or without me. And even though I'm a very small part of it, wouldn't it be good if I was in this position as a Christian, being a part of the discussion?
So you talk about correct theology when talking to the media about Legion?
Absolutely. They're asking lots of questions about it, and that gives me the opportunity to talk about my own faith and how that plays in. And I can say, "The good news is we're not living in the Old Testament. We do have redemption. We do have a Messiah. Our sins are paid for now."
Are you open about your faith in Hollywood?
I've never hidden my Christianity in Hollywood, and I've been handled respectfully because I handle the issue and other people respectfully. I think when you have an agenda to be overt about your faith or covert about your faith, neither one is honest. If I'm going to be covert, to completely hide it and lie, that doesn't work for me; it's misrepresenting God. But if I have the other agenda, overt, walking into a movie set thinking I'm going to have all my costars on their knees receiving Christ before this is over, that agenda is unrealistic and also very selfish. People want to pat themselves on the back thinking I was the one who brought Hollywood to its knees.