Doctor Gash's Tip of the Scalpel: A Tribute to Doug Jones
I was lucky enough to sit down with the great Doug Jones last month to talk about John Dies at the End and a potential reunion with Guillermo Del Toro for a dream Frankenstein project. The great thing was, the interview went so well, I had a ton of extra material that wouldn't fit in the original piece. What to do, what to do?
Then the answer became obvious, take the rest of the interview and turn it into the first ever Doctor Gash Tip of the Scalpel, Interview Edition. So it's with that I offer a much deserved Tip of the Doctor Gash Scalpel to one of the most unique talents in Hollywood, the incomparable Doug Jones.
Of course much of the interview had to deal with Dougie's experiences in make-up, as he has such a gift of bringing an F/X artist's vision to life in ways unique just to him. I asked if he preferred to play a role in make-up, as he so often does, or does he feel better unimpeded by the huge prosthetics and hours in the make-up chair. But it didn't seem like he had a preference either way. Jones is more driven by the character he's playing. "For me, if the character is really yummy to chew on and if its got a great story to tell and relationship to play out, I don't care if it's in make-up or not. Of course there's the comfort level. It's much easier to walk in, go through 10 minutes of face make-up and have your hair sprayed and you're ready to go. But when you go through five hours of make-up and you get to become a beautiful creature like an animal-man hybrid done by Academy Award winning make-up artists…some of the best artists in the world have worked on me. You can't play a character like that with your own face. That's the trade off."
And indeed Jones manages to find the beauty and value of his time in the make-up chair. "Overall it is a pleasure," Jones said. "The beautiful characters I get to play and working with the greatest artists in the world. The camaraderie that comes with it. I spend five hours a day with these people getting into my make-up and then two hours getting me cleaned up at the end of the day and they take care of me during the day. So we have no choice but to get along. I love them all dearly. But there is a certain amount of discomfort you have to endure. But it's all worth it for the art."
Indeed, Dougie is a beautiful person with a radiant personality. However, the characters he's known for playing are often very dark. Being such a positive, loving person, one must wonder where he finds such darkness? "I don't want to sound like I have an evil streak," Jones said. "Every human being has the pallet of emotions and flavors and colors. Some of us just don't dip the brush in there very often. I just have to find that darker color and experience what it's like to dip the brush in there. But when you're doing it for a movie or to show you're in a safe environment where you're not actually out on the street terrorizing real people."
Trying to get a deeper look into just what makes Jones tick, we discussed his own personal influences and got quite a surprise. "My biggest acting idols were from television in the 1960's like Don Knotts from "Mayberry RFD." The goofy, funny people. Carol Burnett, Dick Van Dyke. Loved them all. That's why a lot of my characters have a little bit of quirk to them and a little sense of funny timing.
As for his early memories of horror, Dougie said, "The first people who scared me on the Friday Night Movie Show when I was a kid were Boris Karloff playing The Mummy and Lon Chaney playing The Phantom of the Opera. Those two images were the first times I can remember looking through my fingers at the TV screen."
As for the future, Doug let us in on what some of his dream roles would be. "Frankenstein's monster," Doug said (much to the delight of the interviewer). "Because it hasn't come through yet, I'm going to keep it in the dream category that I want to come true. Also, I would love to play a classic, gothic vampire. If I could redo Dracula…or Nosferatu would be even better. I would love that. I don't want to be a hot, young, sparkly one. I'm kinda past the age for that anyway."
Finally, Doug took great pleasure in discussing his new book entitled Mime Very Own Book. "It's a book of puns," Dougie said. "Anything to do with mimes or being quite or making fun of pop culture, famous people…like Marilyn Mimero is in the book. The Mimea Lisa is in the book. A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste, A Meeting of the Mimes. All these catch phrases are in the book." Only Dougie.
I hope you've enjoyed this visit with Doug Jones as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. And it's with a big smile that we give a big Tip of the Doctor Gash Scalpel to the one and only Doug Jones.
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