Location filming for ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING took place over a two-week period in and around Brighton and Eastbourne.

Brighton locations: the exteriors of pastel painted houses of residential Borough Street stood in for the exteriors of Georgia’s fictional street and house in Eastbourne; Temple Street doubled for the exterior of Jas’ street and house; a lucky home on Roedean Way was chosen as the residence of snog-master Peter Dyer; Georgia wanders The Lanes of Brighton in her olive fancy dress costume; and the Oh So Bar on Brighton’s seafront was transformed in to the Market Place bar where Georgia first sees Robbie and his band, the Stiff Dylans, play.

Eastbourne locations: Cavendish Place was used as the exterior setting for the fancy dress party Georgia attends (in her olive), and she also runs along the promenade and past the bandstand on the seafront; the Eastbourne Pier and fish and chips shop play host to the Ace Gang, Robbie, Tom and Dave The Laugh; Georgia and Robbie are seen playing air guitar on the beach of Eastbourne’s Sailing Club; and Georgia and Robbie promenade along the seafront and the Beachy Head Walk.


In North London, Queen Mary’s Gardens and Avenue Gardens (in the Inner Circle of Regents Park) stood in for the park where Georgia and Robbie look for ‘missing’ Angus, and come across Jas and Tom. In Acton, Chiquitos at Park Royal was transformed in to the restaurant where Georgia and her family go for dinner.

Ealing locations include the W5 Club on Popes Lane, where the interior scenes for the Stiff Dylans' gig were filmed. A vacant property in Mattock Lane was the location for the interior of the fancy dress party, and also the party where Peter Dyer tries to kiss Georgia. Ellen’s house scenes were filmed in Sunnyside Road, near Ealing Studios. The interiors and some exteriors for Georgia’s house were filmed on a purpose build set at Ealing Studios.


Hampton Lido in Hampton stood in for Eastbourne Lido. The Salsa Club (where Georgia, Ellen and Libby spy on Georgia’s Mum and Jem) was filmed at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington; and Robbie and Tom’s mum’s organic shop interior and exterior scenes were filmed at Pincho Restaurant, Church Street, Twickenham.

The interior and exteriors of Georgia’s school were filmed at Bishopshalt School in Hillingdon, Middlesex, and the interior and exterior scenes of the club where Georgia has her surprise birthday party were filmed at Liquid nightclub in Uxbridge, also in Middlesex.


ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING is the first in the series of international best-selling books about the confessions of crazy but lovable Georgia Nicolson, as she muddles through teenage life and all it entails. Several episodes and characters in the books are based on the author Louise Rennison’s own childhood in Leeds, where she was brought up in a three-bedroom council house with her mum, dad, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin.

‘Angus’, is Georgia’s beloved cat; ‘Thongs’ are worn by Georgia’s arch nemesis, Slaggy Lindsay; and ‘Full-Frontal Snogging’ lessons with Peter Dyer lead to her first official snog with sex god Robbie. (NOTE: While Brits would say “snog,” Americans would be more familiar with the term “make out”—it’s their way of saying serious kissing!)

The film ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING gave Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges (her writing partner and husband) an opportunity to collaborate together for a fifth time. When they were approached by Paramount to work on the script for the film, which is based on the first two books in the series (The second book in the series is titled IT’S OK, I’M WEARING REALLY BIG KNICKERS), the appeal for Chadha was immediate as she instinctively knew they could bring the text to life and stay true to the spirit of the books: “In Georgia, we have a wonderful character that anyone who is a stroppy teenager, or has ever been a stroppy teenager, will completely relate to and understand how parents, teachers and, in fact, the world conspires against you just as you are bursting with adulthood - a kind of Bridget Jones at 14 - but with more attitude! I was drawn to just how real and funny Georgia is and that's why she and the books have such a huge international readership.”

Louise Rennison may have based some of Georgia’s life on her own teenage years, but she has also spent time researching what it is to be a teenager today by hanging around with 14-year-olds. The experience was, as Rennison says, “Brilliant - the best fun known to humanity. It's all boys, makeup, laughing and…er, that's it!”

Before writing their draft of the script, Chadha, Mayeda Berges went about their research in a similar way to Rennison, chatting to teenagers and noting their responses, and reading magazines aimed at teens. As Chadha recalls, “Reading all these magazines, you realize the emotional turmoil teenagers go through at that age. You get a sense that they really do think that they are adults—they really do think that they know what is going on—but to us, they are children. It really paid dividends to talk to the real girls and read what they read, and to really get inside the heads of Georgia and the girls.”

Paul Mayeda Berges elaborates, “We loved Georgia and we thought that she was so funny and easy to relate to; she was so real, and kind of mad and wacky. She represents everything that is important to you when you are 14—friends, wanting to have that first boyfriend, that first snog.”

The American High School genre appealed to Chadha. Films like CLUELESS, MEAN GIRLS, 16 CANDLES, anything by John Hughes. She says, “The language that the girls speak, the emotions that they go through—it is all very pure and innocent, a marvelous time in anyone’s life, although, when you are going through it, it is horrendous—the fact that you are so angry all the time at your parents, who are just always embarrassing no matter what they do. When that boy you really fancy just doesn’t know you exist, you just want to die and never have anything to do with boys again. Everything is so dramatic.”

The most difficult part of the casting process was finding a young actress to portray Georgia Nicolson on screen, a character much loved by the avid teenage readers of the books. Chadha began the casting process when she was four-months pregnant. Within a few months, she had found many of the key characters in Georgia’s life…but was still struggling to find Georgia. A few months later, (following the birth of her twins) and still no Georgia cast, Chadha had yet another casting session—in it, she brought back in Georgia Groome, whom she had seen early in the casting process but had felt was too young. As Chadha remembers, “This time, she was like a young woman, she had blossomed and had a completely different attitude and I was thrilled as soon as she walked in…because I knew we had found our Georgia.”

Georgia Groome’s breakthrough role was in the acclaimed, gritty independent British feature film London to Brighton. Being cast as the eccentric and irresistible Georgia Nicolson in ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SNOGGING gave Groome the opportunity to play a teenager of a similar age to herself, which meant she naturally had an understanding of the emotions, situations and angst of the character, “Fourteen-year-old girls worry about boys; about what boys think of them; and about parents; about parents not letting them do what they want when they like. Fourteen-year-olds worry about everything to do with themselves—what they look like, what’s wrong with them…clothes, makeup, everything. Life to a 14-year-old is, like, ‘Arghhh!!!’”

Mayeda Berges comments, “Georgia Groome has a great combination of being able to be light and silly and goofy, but also possesses real emotions—she uses those skills to show how she is changing and is heartbroken about Robbie, or she is upset about her parents. She just has a really amazing sense of what you’re like when you go through that situation—she is so real and natural.”

In rehearsals, Chadha and Groome broke down every scene to establish the variations of Georgia Nicolson’s complex, and at times, erratic behaviour; her mood swings often result in hilarious and heart-warming moments—bouncing from being childish, to a tom boy, to girly, to throwing tantrums, to falling out with friends and falling in love with boys, not to mention worrying about her parents relationship and the realization that the world does not entirely revolve around the needs and desires of a 14-year-old girl and her group of friends.

As Chadha says, “I think people will like Georgia Nicolson, because she is very enchanting. Georgia and her gang of girls together are a lot of fun and thoroughly watchable.”

Co-producer Michelle Fox sees the mishaps and adventures of Georgia as being universal and appealing to families, as well as a young audience: “It was a fantastic script and a lot of fun to produce. It will appeal to the whole family, not just the teenage girls that the books were originally written for. It’s an emotional journey that teenagers and parents alike will relate to. It really takes you back to being 15 and all the exaggerated highs and lows. Georgia and her gang were brilliantly cast, reflecting much of their own personalities in their respective roles. Jas is delightfully ditzy and Robbie, charming and sensitive—you really believe all of their relationships, as Georgia brings such sincerity to her role. Kimberly Nixon is a brilliant and beautifully wicked Slaggy Lindsay. Her scenes with Georgia are just so real. On set behind the cameras, their friendships were growing rapidly, which is evident in the dailies and made being on set quite entertaining at times. Our handsome boy cast caused quite a stir amongst the Ace Gang and they had the added excitement of The Stiff Dylans. We created this great band, with Robbie as the lead singer, from an open audition and their presence on screen is quite something. The audience will come out the cinemas rocking.”

Although Georgia Nicolson is very much the leader within her group of friends, the Ace Gang, because she is the crazy one with the plans—but she is not the most experienced when it comes to life and boys. She has never had a boyfriend, not to mention a snog. Her fellow Ace-ers are: her best friend Jas, who is very sweet and very ditzy; Rosie, the most experienced in the gang and the luckiest—she has a boyfriend, Sven, a Swedish exchange student; and Ellen, the most innocent and least experienced, especially when it comes to boys.

Georgia’s mum, dad, sister Libby and her cat, Angus, frequently irritate and embarrass Georgia. When Georgia’s dad is sent to New Zealand for work, it seems like the answer to her prayers—the person most set against her having a cool, grown-up 15th birthday party (at a cool, grown-up nightclub!) will be half a world away. It is only when the handsome, George Clooney look-a-like builder makes friends with her mum that Georgia begins to realize that there are some things over which she has little control (or understanding) being a teenager—for those matters, she really would rather have her dad back home.

Angus, Georgia’s cat, has been with her ever since she was little. He sleeps with her, and frequently has a part to play in her crazy plans. The special thing about Angus is that he is frequently Georgia’s confidante—when Jas and the Ace Gang aren’t around, when her parents can’t relate…the only other person available is her sister Libby, who is four and also believe she is a cat. So, that leaves Angus, her co-conspirator, partner in crime and trusted friend.

Angus is actually played by two cats in the film, as Georgia Groome explains: “Both cats have different personalities. Benny is the Angus that is the cuddly one that will sit still for long periods of time—he is my savior, my agony aunt that I tell everything to. I dread to think what that cat could tell you, because I whisper all sorts of things in his ear. Jim is the action cat—he does all the jumping and stunts.”

When the drop-dead gorgeous brothers Robbie and Tom arrive as new pupils at Georgia’s school, the would-be heroine and Jas are determined to ensnare them. When Jas and Tom hit it off from the start, a wedge is driven between Georgia and Jas. The situation grows more dire as Georgia’s attempts to impress Robbie backfire time and time again—everything from pretending Angus is missing to using Robbie’s friend Dave The Laugh to try to make Robbie jealous. The situation is not helped by the presence of Robbie’s girlfriend (Georgia’s arch nemesis, Slaggy Lindsay), who uses any opportunity to make Georgia look stupid by reminding her how young and childish she looks, and acts, in comparison.

In an effort to put into practice Georgia and Jas’ snogging scale, Georgia arranges kissing lessons with Peter Dyer—”the man, the myth, the legend”—so that she will know what to do when, and if, she finally gets to kiss Robbie. In Peter Dyer’s words, “Number One is the standard kiss. Number Two is with movement, when the boy goes in, the girl always goes the other way…the boy leads and the girl always fits in. Number Three is with tongues, which makes it a health and safety issue. The secret is to strike the right balance between yielding and giving. Start slowly—like a turtle, not a lizard—and avoid washing machine syndrome. That’s my scale of snogging!”

Robbie plays bass in a band called the Stiff Dylans. The band features heavily in Rennison’s books and a real band was created especially for the film; an extensive audition process saw four individual musicians brought together to perform in the film, with a hoped-for life beyond the film. (The band has subsequently signed with Sony BMG.) For the purposes of the story, Robbie is featured on screen as a bass player and vocalist alongside the real musicians.

James Flannigan (vocals), Charlie Wride (guitar), Matt Harris (bass) and Thomas Slaytor (drums)—who have never before played together—found themselves in the famous Abbey Road studio, recording tracks as the film went in to production. Later, they were required to perform and act on-stage within scenes in the film. The Stiff Dylans perform a cover and a track that was especially written for the film (with lyrics about Georgia Nicolson), which Robbie is supposed to have written for her.

Aaron Johnson, who plays Robbie, says, “I really enjoyed being up on the stage with an instrument. I don’t really play any instruments or sing, and I’m definitely not a rock band type. It was a great atmosphere and a different buzz. It really felt like we were playing a gig. It was really cool to rock out and sing along. It felt like we were a band and hopefully, it will look like that as well.”


Misunderstood by her “ancient” parents—but buoyed up by the love of her cat, Angus, and her bessie mates, the Ace Gang—Georgia Nicolson (GEORGIA GROOME) struggles through life seeking out her two main desires: 1. To get a gorgeous sex-god as her boyfriend. 2. To throw the greatest 15th birthday party ever.

When handsome brothers Tom (SEAN BOURKE) and Robbie (AARON JOHNSON) arrive at school, Georgia thinks her boyfriend dreams have been answered. But when she sees Robbie with her arch rival, Slaggy Lindsay (KIMBERLEY NIXON), she devises a plan to show Robbie that she’s the mature, sophisticated girlfriend he deserves. Unfortunately Georgia’s plans - involving snogging lessons, dying her legs orange and stalking Slaggy Lindsay - don’t exactly run smoothly.

In addition her own romance problems, Georgia's dad (ALAN DAVIES) is given an amazing job opportunity in New Zealand. This leaves Georgia’s mum (KAREN TAYLOR) open to the charms of builder Jem (STEVE JONES), a George Clooney look-a-like who’s ancient (mid 30’s) but still a fittie. The worry over her parents’ marriage is a huge pressure on Georgia, who feels that the responsibility for holding the family together rests on her shoulders.

In her quest to get Robbie and keep her family from splitting, Georgia transforms from a selfish girl into a young woman who’s grown beyond the valley of the fab and into the universe of marvy.


ANGUS, THONGS & PERFECT SNOGGING is directed and produced by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice), from the screenplay she co-scripted with Paul Mayeda Berges, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi.

This hilarious coming-of-age story is based on the international best-selling series of books by the British author Louise Rennison, and follows the eccentric and irresistible Georgia Nicolson as she overcomes the trauma of being a teenager.

Georgia Nicolson is played by Georgia Groome. Alongside her playing fellow Ace Gang members are Eleanor Tomlinson as Jas, Georgia Henshaw as Rosie and Manjeeven Grewal as Ellen. Aaron Johnson, Sean Bourke, Alan Davies, Karen Taylor and T4’s Steve Jones (making his acting debut) also star.

Filming on the Paramount and Nickelodeon production took place on location in Brighton, Eastbourne, Middlesex and London locations, along with shooting at Ealing Studios.

Paramount Pictures International and Nickelodeon Movies Present A Gurinder Chadha Film: Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, starring Georgia Groome, Alan Davies, Karen Taylor, Aaron Johnson, Eleanor Tomlinson. The music is by Joby Talbot, and the music supervisors are Karen Elliott and Ian Neil. The co-producer is Michelle Fox. The costume designer is Jill Taylor. The film is edited by Martin Walsh, A.C.E. and Justin Krish. The production designer is Nick Ellis; the director of photography is Richard Pope, BSC. The executive producer is Scott Aversano. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is produced by Gurinder Chadha and Lynda Obst, and based on the books Angus, Thongs… and …Really Big Knickers by Louise Rennison. The screenplay is by Gurinder Chadha & Paul Mayeda Berges and Will McRobb & Chris Viscardi. It is directed by Gurinder Chadha. The soundtrack album is available on Sony BMG Music Entertainment (UK) Limited.
Shooting wrapped, layers of prosthetics peeled away and his famous sketchbook even more well worn, writer/director del Toro reflects on the draw of the hero with whom he has spent much of the last decade trying to explain: “Hellboy is an unlikely good guy with a blue-collar attitude and a big heart for his family of freaks. I identify with him 100 percent. He has an extraordinary job, but a workman-like mentality. He struggles with inner demons and fights against what others see as his destiny. His is a story of nature vs. nurture, which offers simple but beautiful truths about what it is to be human.”

And that is the type of story del Toro best shares. “I would love for people to find within Hellboy movies their favorite monsters,” he concludes. “We all need monsters to dream, and that’s what we’re doing.”Universal Pictures presents, in association with Relativity Media, a Lawrence Gordon/Lloyd Levin production, in association with Dark Horse Entertainment—a Guillermo del Toro film—Hellboy II: The Golden Army, starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor and John Hurt. The music is by Danny Elfman; the costume designer is Sammy Sheldon. The action-thriller’s creature and makeup effects are designed by Mike Elizalde; the film’s editor is Bernat Vilaplana. Hellboy II: The Golden Army’s production designer is Stephen Scott. The director of photography is Guillermo Navarro, ASC; the co-executive producer is Mike Mignola. The executive producer is Chris Symes.

The film is produced by Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson, Lloyd Levin. It is based upon the Dark Horse Comic Book created by Mike Mignola. The story is Guillermo del Toro & Mike Mignola. Hellboy II: The Golden Army’s screenplay is by Guillermo del Toro, and it is directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Guillermo Navarro is GDT’s right-hand creative partner

Guillermo del Toro and his director of photography, Guillermo Navarro, are on their fifth collaboration with Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The most recent, Pan’s Labyrinth, brought Navarro the Academy Award® for best cinematography in 2007. The pair also made the first Hellboy together. Indeed, the longtime friends planned their camera moves before production began.

“Guillermo Navarro is GDT’s right-hand creative partner,” observes Doug Jones. “Almost every shot in Hellboy II has a camera movement, and being an actor who relies on movement as much as I do, I love seeing the camera move as well.”

Del Toro describes his process with Navarro: “We always work before the movie. It started with Cronos and is the same way now. We watch movies together and discuss possible looks, and when the movie’s look is not something similar to any film ever made, we discuss paintings or comic books. If there is no reference, we discuss style sheets and put down some guidelines and talk about what type of film stock to use, what grain we want, what type of light, and then we do tests. We test the wardrobe and makeup and hairstyles and test all the lights we are going to use, and then we seldom talk about these again in the shoot.

It was important to the two filmmakers to shoot a movie unlike anything people had seen before. By taking the magical realm, elf world and new slants to Celtic mythology, they wanted to deliver a universe that was much more exotic and Oriental than audiences would expect. Shots would often get tricky, especially when Jones had two characters in one scene (i.e., a stunt double dressed as Abe Sapien was required to stand outside of the Angel of Death’s chamber, where Jones was in full makeup [and 40-pound wings] as the Angel herself).

“Guillermo is a friend, and I trust him as an artist and a partner,” offers del Toro. “He has taught me much, and we are compadres. He takes risks with me, and we are not afraid to go out on a limb.”

Dramatic climax of Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The showdown in the Golden Army Chamber just past the Angel of Death’s lair provides the dramatic climax of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The lavishly choreographed spectacle involved every department of the production.

The stunts team worked closely with the visual effects department in planning Hellboy’s battle with the computer-generated Golden Army soldiers. But the one-on-one fight between Hellboy and the prince is a flesh-and-blood encounter that required close collaboration between stunts and special effects, not to mention close calls between Ron Perlman and Luke Goss.

The dramatic design of the Golden Army Chamber heightened the fight’s ferocity. The huge golden cogs that flank the stage where the prince imperiously surveys the army become the fighting arena of the two combatants. The cogs’ movement is also the trigger that brings the Golden Army to life.

The action began with a shout of “Start the cogs!” from first assistant director CLIFF LANNING. “Every film has a slightly different range of effects and, in this movie, it’s the cogs that make the difference,” says assistant SFX supervisor MANEX EFREM, who oversaw their construction and operation. “Because of the cogs, this looks like no other fight you’ll ever see. The cogs spin, some move vertically, some are beveled gears. It’s very much like a fighting ballet.”

The cogs inspired stunt coordinator Brad Allan. “We saw an opportunity for some comedy and some excitement. We’re channeling a little bit of Charlie Chaplin from Modern Times and a little Jackie Chan, plus our own Hellboy flavor.”

The two combatants have completely different fighting styles, suggests Allan. “Hellboy is a strength guy, a stone-fisted brawler. The prince is all speed and stealth, lean and like lightning.”
Although the physically fit Luke Goss performed much of the sword and spear work, Allan upped the ante by mixing in top Chinese martial artists. As is Allan, they’re veterans of the Jackie Chan stunt team. Because the prince’s fighting technique is based on evasion, del Toro and Allan also decided to add somersaulting to his moves.

“I had no idea how I was going to find a power tumbler with the stature and physique of Luke Goss, because most of them are stocky little guys,” says Allan.

“But by typing ‘tumbler’ on YouTube, I found DAMIEN WALTERS—a tall, skinny, blond, blue-eyed guy who is the No. 3 power tumbler in the world today. He’s not a professional stunt performer, but his skill was exactly what we needed, and his work was so outstanding that the entire crew broke into applause after most of his takes.”

Wielding the ancient spear of Bethmoora, Prince Nuada knows almost no equal. In fact, he almost destroys Hellboy in a previous battle before their rematch in the Chamber. Concept artist Velasco explains of an early version of the drawing, created by PABLO ANGELES: “The main idea was for the spear to be a kind of telescopic device, so when it is short it can be used as a double-bladed sword and then extend to spear,” he shares. “All the weapons of the elf royalty are richly decorated. We were trying to stay away from just Celtic motifs and create our own patterns. In the end, we moved the design toward more Oriental and Islamic ornamentation.”

Creatures of Hellboy’s World

Tooth Fairies and Limb Vendors: Creatures of Hellboy’s World
“I have always loved movies where the star is the monster. That has branded my view of art and storytelling all my life,” says del Toro. The director demonstrates this devotion to monsters of all shapes and sizes in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. “In the first movie, we did big, big creatures,” he says. “One thing I wanted to explore this time was what would happen if the first attack came from tiny creatures that are actually cute.”

Hence, the tooth fairies were born. Dainty and almost Tinkerbell-like, the fairies have little else in common with their spritely namesake; they have an insatiable appetite for calcium and are happiest when eating through human flesh to get to it. “Guillermo outdid himself on the cuteness scale with the tooth fairies, but they’re nasty little things,” says Selma Blair.

Solution Studios created an animatronic tooth fairy for a scene in the B.P.R.D.’s medical bay in which Johann reanimates the fairy, but the full-scale infestation of the burrowing predators in the auction house fell to Mike Wassel’s visual effects team. He would seamlessly create the swarm that attacked the B.P.R.D. after the carnivores had already eaten through a number of auction guests earlier in the evening. Wassel’s crew would need to make it appear as if Hellboy, Liz and Abe were frantically gunning and flaming through the nest of fairies.

Wassel’s group also created the plantlike Elemental creature, which stands more than 70’ tall after water activates its properties. Interestingly, the Elemental “seed” comes from Nuada’s grenade; the weapon shoots out magical Elemental spores that, after touching water, sprout into a forest and will choke anything in their way to achieve the goal of reforestation. Originally used by elves to grow an ecosystem, it’s been eons since one has been activated.

Solution also designed the juggernaut Golden Army soldiers, which play on-screen as 16’-tall mechanical robots that morph from an egglike state to full militia. This Golden Army has been dormant since Balor put them to rest, but it has been silently waiting for a new wearer of the crown to command them. Del Toro asked his artists for an enormous chamber that could house the hundreds of golden eggs. The stunning designs were brought to life at Solution.

Prosthetic creatures abound in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. With more than two dozen of them on set over the course of the shoot, the Hellboy II creature department was one of the production’s largest. Spectral Motion from Los Angeles took charge of 15 characters. Solution Studios, Creature Effects and Euroart Studios from the U.K., DDT from Spain and Filmefex from Hungary also made contributions to the horde of trolls, goblins and creatures of the night.

“This is the most massively scaled film I’ve ever worked on,” says Mike Elizalde, founder of Spectral Motion. “It’s been challenging, but also rewarding because of the cleverness and relevance to the story that each character has.”

Spectral Motion’s many achievements include Wink, the Prince’s lumbering sidekick and a match for Hellboy in brute strength. He is portrayed by actor Brian Steele, who is 6’7” tall as Steele, but 7’5” as the drooling beast. The Wink suit, an animatronic masterpiece, weighs 130 pounds. Coupled with Steele’s body mass, the suit was stunning that he could maneuver, much less walk, as long as he was able in the suit. Wink’s facial expressions and the movements of his weaponlike hand (with built-in mace) were controlled via radio by puppeteers.

“The finish, the quality, the mechanics, the articulation, the personality that these prosthetic characters have been given is incredible. The first time we all saw Wink, we couldn’t believe it. The whole set just stopped and assembled around him; it was spellbinding,” lauds executive producer Chris Symes.

Stunt coordinator BRAD ALLAN sums the cast and crew’s respect for Brian Steele’s work: “The effort Brian goes through just to make this character walk is amazing, let alone fight.”

Elizalde’s painstakingly detailed daily routine included the application of Hellboy’s prosthetic makeup. Perlman’s entire face was covered, along with much of his neck, arms and torso, in a process that typically required about three hours. “To wear rubber glued to your body and face and then get in front of the camera and, on cue, give the emotion you’re supposed to give is tough,” says Elizalde. “Ron is a great actor, and his emotion reads through the makeup.”

Del Toro agrees. “Sometimes I have to push, or pull back, a performer in prosthetics until he/she finds the right wavelength,” he explains. “But with Ron, there’s no need. The man is a master in makeup.”

As noted, it took makeup artists THOM FLOUTZ and SIMON WEBBER five hours every day to transform Doug Jones into Abe Sapien. The process for his new characters, the massive Angel of Death and the simpering Chamberlain, was also labor-intensive.

Remarks Perlman: “The Angel of Death was, to me, the most impressive of the new makeups and conceits that has been created for the film. She’s got eight wings and stands 9-feet tall on an 80-pound frame.”

“I always play characters under gobs of makeup and obstacles,” Jones muses. “Sometimes they’re heavy; sometimes they’re hot; sometimes they’re glued on…or there’s a mask with mechanics, which keeps me from hearing the other characters’ dialogue, or there’s a vision problem and I can’t see where I’m supposed to put my prop. But my job is to look as if I wake up this way every day, and the design work is so beautiful that it becomes something really fun for me to give motion to.”

For the character of Johann, Dodd explains the need for multiple performers: “I’ve got two animators that are on very big radio-controlled units. One animates my mouth, which is basically two little things that pop up and down in time to whatever I’m saying. And the other one controls how much smoke you can see in my glass bubble, as well as—at various key moments—these two eye-like things on the front of my mask that are a form of breathing apparatus. Every time Johann wants to sigh, or there’s a climactic moment, smoke will shoot out of that point.”

For the many other creatures—from the Tadpole Vendor to Cathedral Head to a bevy of trolls—del Toro commissioned a number of artists to work on their creation, and left it to one of the shops to bring them to life. He is well known to bounce ideas from one artist to another; the results are an amalgam of designs that look as if they have existed since the dawn of time.

Designing Hellboy II: The Golden Army

This series of missions leads the B.P.R.D. team into secret new worlds that have been speculated upon for years but never before verified. Each of these lands was imagined in precise detail by del Toro and sketched in his ever-present notebook long before production began. Production designer Stephen Scott was tasked to bring these drawings to life.

Del Toro envisioned this chapter of Hellboy’s adventures taking place not only in multiple locations, but also in new realms. He offers, “In the first film, we were always in the sewers and subways, never out in the open, among high society or humans. This takes us a bit more there and into the magical world.” To do this, he would need to head to Hungary as well as to Ireland.
Undoubtedly, the most extravagant of these environments is del Toro’s aptly named Troll Market. Located underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and reached via the back of a butcher shop, it’s one of the few places where freaks don’t feel like outcasts. Hellboy, Liz, Abe and Johann find the Troll Market by following a tip wrung from the lips of a reanimated tooth fairy, a wretched little beast with an insatiable appetite for calcium.

Magical beings are the only ones who can access the market, a haven crowded with potion vendors and artifact mongers that’s been hidden from human eyes for millennia. “The Troll Market is like a souk you’d find in Morocco, except there are no humans,” explains Ron Perlman. “It’s Guillermo del Toro visiting the most extreme depths of his imagination.”
Entered via a 12’-high circular doorway comprised of rotating gears—an intricate locking structure that few can interpret—the Troll Market is packed to the rafters with everything an underworlder might need: discarded items from the city above, off-market novelties such as human skin, a barber shop, an opium den, a giant meat grinder and a community message board. It’s also, naturally, packed with trolls. More than 200 extras were recruited to inhabit the nooks and crannies of this hazy netherworld. Fortunately for Hellboy, Johann, in gaseous form, can unlock the door.

The writer/director wanted to create a place upon which audiences felt they had just stumbled—a universe with little explanation as to why there was any particular character; rather, the creatures just lived and worked there. Explains concept artist FRANCISCO RUIZ VELASCO, “Every artist working on the production was throwing crazy and exotic ideas around to come up with the different creatures that were to populate the Troll Market, ‘where you can find anything in the world, even those things that are not for sale.’” They did just that to flesh out del Toro and Mignola’s imaginings.

To interpret this world for film, production designer Scott had three months to transform a 4,000-square-meter cave, most recently used for growing mushrooms, into del Toro’s vision of the teeming marketplace. The cave also had to accommodate lights, acting, stunts and effects—such as dripping water and billowing steam—along with hundreds of cast, crew, goblins and trolls. The underground location, a former limestone quarry, was found 25 miles southwest of Budapest in the village of Tarnok, Hungary.

In addition to slick new B.P.R.D. uniforms, costume designer Sammy Sheldon was tasked to make sure no one could ever confuse trolls with humans in the enormous space. “We gave them strange humps on the front, humps on the back, big bellies, big bottoms, gloves with three fingers, tall shoes…anything we could think of to try and change the shape of a human being,” she says. “Every single character in the Troll Market has his face covered.”

Both the Troll Market and the eerily imposing Golden Army Chamber were designed in sharp contrast with the aboveground world of humans. “The human world is linear, with straight lines and sharp edges,” says Scott, “while the shapes of the belowground worlds are curved and fluid, with a mixture of Indian, Moroccan and other North African influences.”

The Golden Army Chamber houses a weapon of mass destruction that was commissioned by Elvish King Balor many centuries ago. According to del Toro: “The king said, ‘I want an army that doesn’t need to eat, sleep, drink or pause.’ So, the goblins created a massive army composed of 16’ tall mechanical soldiers that are killing machines. But they don’t know the difference between a man, woman or child—an innocent victim or a soldier.” Once the ruler realizes the horror of his manifested request, he understands that strength is restraint, not brutality, and locks the Golden Army away for eternity, hopefully to never to harm again. Until his son releases its nihilistic power once again.

The robotic holding pen was built in Budapest in a cavernous (and only partially completed) college sports arena, nicknamed Spikey Stadium by the crew due to the Sputnik-like protrusions on its roof. Because the space had sat unused for so long, it had a hollow, lifeless quality that was creepily appropriate for this massive set. In addition, its towering height offered practical advantages for construction and filming pivotal sequences of the army’s reactivation.

While Navarro’s cameras rolled at these and other locations in greater Budapest, the production’s construction crew worked nonstop at Korda Studios’ back lot, building the New York street to the production designer’s specifications. When principal photography began on June 9, 2007, Manhattan was nothing but a stark metal scaffold, which dozens of men scaled daily to build. As the months passed, it grew to encompass three blocks of shabby shops, a meat packing plant, loading docks, an auto shop, a bank, billboards, an SRO hotel and a trendy meat packing district café.

The New York street hosted several pivotal scenes, including the confrontation between Hellboy and the Elemental, a powerful “Jack and the Beanstalk”-type of vine creature with enough life force to rip through pavement. To fight the latest trick from Nuada’s playbook, Hellboy must scramble up a wobbly neon hotel sign to escape its grasping tentacles and bone-crushing moves. Hungarian speed-climbing champion CSABA KOMONDI was brought in for the job, doubling as Hellboy for the stunt. Donning boots, leather pants, heavy coat, oversized shotgun, animatronic tail, harness, pads and the right hand of doom—not to mention the infant he was rescuing—the 160-pound man weighed 240 pounds as he scaled the five letters of the sign…in one continuous take.

The nighttime sequence was filmed in November as snow flurries and high winds swept through the set. Although cast and crew shivered in the cold, everyone was confident that the hotel would withstand the conditions. “We used metal tube work behind the façade to prevent it from blowing away,” explains Scott.

The B.P.R.D. team also visits Giant’s Causeway, an ancient place of myth and legend, touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Although aerial photography was taken at the actual site on the Northern Irish coast, the actors performed their Causeway scenes in a hilly field near the town of Soskut in the Hungarian countryside. If they could offer just the right token to the Bethmoora Goblin who keeps watch, Hellboy, Liz and Abe would be admitted passage to the Angel of Death…a complicated proposition.

The freaks live where they work, at B.P.R.D. headquarters. The B.P.R.D. sets for Hellboy II: The Golden Army were also built in and around Budapest. The Bureau’s well-stocked “freak corridor,” medical bay and meeting rooms were constructed on soundstages at Korda Studios, as was Hellboy’s personal lair—complete with dozens of television sets and equally as many cats.
Professor Broom’s sumptuous library, the site of a pivotal confrontation between Hellboy and Nuada, occupied another stage at the brand-new Korda facility. Also, the small hut at the military base where Professor Broom raised young Hellboy was built at the studio. Here, as a child, Hellboy first heard tell of the Golden Army’s bloody history between mankind and the outlanders.

Finally, Bethmoora, the pivotal setting where Prince Nuada confronts his father about his shortcomings as a ruthless leader, was imagined. The city where King Balor reigns over a peaceful kingdom with favored child, Princess Nuala, was built inside an enormous cavern, and the buildings are carved into the stone walls. The ruinous space has been in shambles for several millennia, and ashes blanket the region.

Inside the Angel’s lair is a carving on the floor that depicts a diagram of the universe. The watchful filmgoer will catch Mike Mignola’s many icons and zodiac symbols (carved after many detailed sketches were considered by del Toro). Most important is a glyph that depicts Hellboy at the end of the days, alternately the savior of or harbinger to mankind’s destruction…depending upon how you read the runes.

The filmmakers took pride in honoring the designs of the many artists who contributed to the production. “It was inspiring to see the intricate sketches come to life over the shoot,” commends producer Levin. “These fantasy worlds and creatures had been so carefully imagined by Guillermo and the many artists who worked on Hellboy II. To find the detailed sketches built into intricate sets was especially exciting.”

Hellboy wouldn’t be Hellboy without Ron Perlman

Hellboy wouldn’t be Hellboy without Ron Perlman returning in the title role. Fortunately, the actor was up for getting back into the boots of his favorite role, a character he describes as “a complete underachieving, lazy slob…a beer-drinking, football-watching average American guy who has no desire to be a superhero,” explains Perlman. “He just happens to have these abilities commensurate with where he’s from and who he is. His idea of a perfect day is pizza and beer and watching The Three Stooges and Marx Brothers movies. His extraordinary superhuman traits are coincidental and not something he aspires to.”

Perlman also looked forward to working again with his longtime director. Of del Toro, he states, “The depth of his intellect and accumulated knowledge, based on this voracious curiosity to read anything about why people need to tell stories—including all types of mythology from all cultures—is what sets him apart.” Also, he agreed with the filmmaker’s fascination to tell this type of story. “Guillermo is a great storyteller, because he understands the need for people to pass down fables and myths, as well as to look at the huge, errors that are made by humans as a result of their frailties and vulnerabilities.”

Del Toro also knew Hellboy couldn’t return without his sarcastic romantic sidekick, Liz, back for another round of dazzling pyrokinesis. Perlman’s partner in crime fighting would again be actress Selma Blair, the only performer the director and producers felt could do Liz justice. Says del Toro, “In the comic, Liz is always very brooding, very dark, distant; she’s never relaxed. Selma nailed that.”

Blair respected the fact that fans of the comic book and film franchise have a special place in their hearts for Liz. The pyrokinetic remained beautiful, yet untouchable, to anyone for fear that she would accidentally harm them…until she met Hellboy. Blair reflects, “Hellboy has some really die-hard fans, and all of us are grateful that their devotion has given us the chance to tell the story with Guillermo.”

As Liz and Red move into a relationship, they are coping with the same irritations as most couples…plus some unique issues that occur when a recovering demon falls in love with a fire starter. “Petty things are really amplified when you have superpowers,” laughs Blair, whose character has finally come to embrace the pyrokinetic energy that used to threaten everyone who came near. “When Hellboy and Liz have a row, it’s not just, ‘Okay, I’m going for a walk, see you later,’” she explains. “It’s more like, ‘I’m going to blow up this damn kitchen and will see you later.’”

Again cast as the rotten-egg-eating, brilliant aquatic empath Abe Sapien was actor and movement specialist Doug Jones. Of his character, del Toro explains: “Being half fish and half mammal, Abe possesses a unique frontal lobe. Much like a dolphin’s, it can receive and transmit information and images locked in objects or people. Abe is also the egghead of the group in terms of occult knowledge.”

Before and since his first Hellboy film, the longtime del Toro collaborator has carved out a fascinating niche in creature performance. Recently, as both Pale Man and the title character in Pan’s Labyrinth, intergalactic indentured servant Norin Radd in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and a series of irradiated imps battling The Rock in DOOM, the 6’4” Jones had been keeping quite busy.

Foremost, Jones was happy to tackle Abe again as, frankly, “there was much more to do this time.” He reflects, “Abe has so much more decision-making and character development…and he wields a weapon this time.” Jones laughingly adds, “Me with a gun—that’s funny.”

Jones also appreciated the fact that his water-dwelling character would finally get a chance to experience true love, this time with the enchanting Princess Nuala. The only problem is that she’s eternally connected to her evil twin. Jones reflects, “What a first love does to a person and their decision-making powers…it makes us silly in our adolescence. Abe’s going through a certain adolescent period of life, and it’s a nice chance to revisit those teenage years.”

Tasked to not play only Abe, a process that took up to five hours a day in the makeup chair, Jones agreed to portray both the fleshy court Chamberlain, who lives in service to King Balor, as well as the elusive, multiwinged Angel of Death, who offers an unimaginable choice to Liz.

Compliments fellow B.P.R.D. member Perlman of Jones’ flexibility in roles: “Doug truly amazes me. He’s one of these guys that the more you give him to do, the more he’ll amaze you. He’s such a humble, soft-spoken guy who never calls attention to himself. He gives each role major thought and has the ability to execute it every time. If you do 30 takes with Doug, they’re all going to be good.”

To add insult to Hellboy’s injury, the agency’s Washington bosses have saddled the B.P.R.D. with a new leader, one who can contain the damage from Hellboy’s accidental “outing” of the agency to the public. No longer can the team hide in Trenton, New Jersey, under the guise of the Squeaky Clean Management Company. Once a flesh-and-blood human, Dr. Johann Krauss now exists only as ectoplasmic gas inside a containment suit. He’s a by-the-book type, and expects the same from his team, especially the grousing Hellboy. Unfortunately for him, every time he issues an edict in his crisp German accent, Hellboy sees red.

The voice of Krauss is provided by Seth MacFarlane, and the movements are shared by John Alexander (who also plays the Bethmoora Goblin) and James Dodd. Dodd explains the look of his character: “Johann’s in a containment suit, which looks like one of those old-fashioned deep-sea diving suits, and he’s got a head with a glass bubble on it. Years ago, he went from a human form into ectoplasm and created this containment suit, so—in a more humanoid form—he’d be more readily accepted by people. He has special powers and can reanimate objects by flipping open a finger cap on his gloves, releasing ectoplasmic smoke into the dead and ask questions of it.” Curiously, Dodd had to navigate this world while gazing through a glass pane that would occasionally fog up on him.

Also returning to the series as B.P.R.D. agent Tom Manning, the bureaucrat whose sole purpose is to keep Hellboy in check, is Jeffrey Tambor. Tambor, who wasn’t allowed to read comics as a child, has had a chance to catch up on his youth after these outings with del Toro. He offers an astute theory about the appeal of the property to fans: “What I like about all these creatures is that I think we all think we’re ugly and we all think we’re monsters…yet we have great love in us. That’s the thing that we overcome the most, and it’s a hard thing to do. So, I don’t think there’s anybody who cannot relate to Hellboy. We’re all Hellboy, Liz and Abe. A few of us are Tom Manning. Thankfully.”

Everything shifts for the B.P.R.D. after it responds to an emergency at an Upper East Side auction house in Manhattan. Each team member is stretched to the limit by the chain of cataclysmic events unleashed on that rainy September night by one very ticked-off son of the earth: Prince Nuada Silverlance, exile of the Bethmoora Kingdom. The self-appointed revolutionary of the elves, fairiefolk and creatures of the shadows has been subsiding on the crumbs of the industrialized world, while his beloved planet withers under human masters. It was not always so, and the prince is determined to change the balance of power, even if it means defying his father and endangering his beloved twin sister.

“The Prince is a great villain because he is very dangerous and a great fighter, but he also happens to have a strong moral stand on what he does and why he does it,” explains del Toro. “I wrote the part with Luke Goss in mind, and he delivered all the way.”

Goss, who portrayed the vampire Nomak for del Toro in Blade II, sympathized with the Prince and trained hard to make him a worthy adversary. “He aims to balance the scales by the most succinct means possible,” says Goss. “I can see his point. He wants to enjoy and not destroy the planet. When he walks into Blackwood’s auction house, he sees people sitting there with no idea about what they’re trying to buy. They’re selling his history, and it outrages him.”

The prince hasn’t surfaced with the intention of taking on Hellboy, but no matter. He’s ready to engage him physically and psychologically. Nuada also knows how to reach the secret places in Hellboy’s soul. At a crucial moment, he calls him out and forces him to face who is he is and where his loyalties lie. “Guillermo has upped the ante of what Hellboy’s going through in this movie,” says Perlman. “Eventually, Hellboy has to ask himself why he’s working for a bureau dedicated to neutralizing creatures who are really his own kind.”

British actress Anna Walton was cast as Princess Nuala. Walton was drawn to the part by the chance to play a character divided by her own conscience. She offers, “Everyone has a sort of evil person in one ear and a little angel in the other ear. Nuala’s brother is the heart and the passion of her. She admires it in one respect, but knows that she has to quash it, because it can’t be. It’s very hard for her, but, ultimately, she won’t let him win.”

Commends producer Levin of the team’s Nuala: “Anna does a phenomenal job, because Nuala’s this very ethereal character and, in the wrong hands, could just float away. But she does a great job grounding Nuala and making it seem possible that she would have a romantic relationship with a fish…I mean Abe Sapien.”Performer John Hurt was brought back for a key flashback sequence as Hellboy’s father, Professor Trevor Broom, while Roy Dotrice was tasked to portray the wizened ruler of Bethmoora, King Balor. Brian Steele joined the cast to serve in four roles: as Prince Nuada’s troll henchman, Wink, as well as the aptly named Cathedral Head (a scroll vendor who provides Princess Nuala with an invaluable gift from her father), bag-lady troll Fragglewump and Cronie Troll. A host of movement actors joined in to play creatures, from limb, tadpole and fish vendors to organ grinders and butcher guards. Of note, the butchers were originally intended as background creatures, but evolved into necessary guards for King Balor.

Hellboy’s first adventures were published by Dark Horse Comics

Hellboy’s first adventures were published by Dark Horse Comics in 1994. Guillermo del Toro’s debut as a feature film director came a year earlier with the critically acclaimed horror film Cronos, starring Ron Perlman as the thug in search of an immortality device. As del Toro’s work gained international attention, he kept his eye on Mignola’s creation as a possible future project. “I had always been a Mike Mignola fan,” the director offers. “I fell in love with the brooding, Gothic, atmospheric work he was doing. When I was shooting Mimic in 1997, the best part of the day was going to the comic book shop to look for more Hellboy issues. By then, I thought it was taking a direction that made sense for a movie.”

Del Toro admits he envisioned a filmed version of Hellboy just the way that Mignola wrote him in his comics: “a blue-collar guy—a plumber or an electrician—who comes in with a box of tools and says, ‘Where is the leak?’ and goes at fixing the leak. But he is a very jaded, reluctant investigator; his method of investigation is to beat the crap out of a monster.”

The filmmaker’s interest in turning the demon into a film star surprised the pragmatic Mignola, who thought the tales of his antiheroes would forever stay on the page. “I never in a billion years believed Hellboy would be a movie, and when it was discussed, I said, ‘Sure, good luck.’ But when I met Guillermo, I knew right away that if anyone was going to do it, I sure as hell hoped it would be him. We agreed right away that Hellboy had to be Ron Perlman.”

In a world of caped heroes who sport chiseled good looks and profess all-American values, audiences found it refreshing to have a good guy look so, well, bad. Provides producer Mike Richardson, “Hellboy is not your traditional superhero. This is a character who has horns and a tail and looks like the devil; he shaves his horns off to try and look as human as possible. He’s a blue-collar hero who just wants to be one of us.”

During the five years of development before Hellboy was greenlit, the creative team behind the project kept its focus. “In this period, a number of offers to make Hellboy came in,” recalls blockbuster producer Lawrence Gordon, “but it was about five years before Guillermo had the commercial track record for us to get the movie made in the way he imagined it. His artistic credibility and success in the films he created during that time—The Devil’s Backbone and Blade II—clinched that.”

The first film, starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and Jeffrey Tambor as members of the elite B.P.R.D. was produced by Revolution Studios with Dark Horse Entertainment, Lawrence Gordon Productions and Starlite Films. It was met with solid commercial success and acheived $100 million at the global box office, as well as finding an enormous audience through DVD sales.

With impressive figures for the action-thriller and del Toro’s growing international acclaim from the adult fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro had the pull to get the second chapter in Hellboy’s continuing adventures greenlit. Changes in the film business, however, would bring the Hellboy sequel to a new studio. “Because Revolution closed shop, we were able to bring the sequel back to Universal where, many years before, we had originally started developing Hellboy,” says producer Lloyd Levin. “The possibility of making the sequel at Universal was a thrill for us because we always loved the idea that Hellboy could be part of the great legacy of Universal Monsters.” (Notably, every Sunday as a child, del Toro would watch two Universal Monster movies, from Frankenstein to Creature From the Black Lagoon, at his hometown theater).
This time, del Toro wanted to tell Red’s (Liz’s nickname for Hellboy) developing story on a grander scale, including many more practical creatures that inhabited the universe Mignola had created. The man producer Gordon says “eats, sleeps and breathes film,” admits he aspired to bring Hellboy to both the dark corners of the fairy-tale world and out in the open to a blissfully ignorant public. As before, he designed at least half of his imagined goblins, trolls and creatures of the night to be played by actors in elaborately designed prosthetic makeup. Puppeteers would enhance the range of their movements with radio-controlled animatronics.

“Mignola’s universe demands a strong physical component to the creatures,” says del Toro. Especially when that world also includes creatures who have sprung from del Toro’s imagination: such as Prince Nuada’s faithful henchman, the troll Wink; the enigmatic, winged Angel of Death; and an array of other goblins, chamberlains and nasties.

As del Toro drafted the sequel’s screenplay, he knew he again needed to infuse CGI to step in when practical effects were not possible. Double Negative Visual Effects came on board to execute his vision of the merciless robotic Golden Army that King Balor, the one-armed ruler of Bethmoora, had created a millennium ago, as well as the unstoppable Elemental creature and other fantasy effects.

For Hellboy II, del Toro and Mignola also wanted more layers to the story than they were able to achieve in Hellboy, as they didn’t have to worry about the origin story that the first film well covered. “Mythology and folklore have always been present in the ‘Hellboy’ comics, and we didn’t go there in the first film,” Mignola notes. “So instead of Rasputin, Nazis, mad scientists and H.P. Lovecraft-type stuff, we went for the supernatural.”

After working out the storyline with Mignola, del Toro spent two-and-a-half years writing the screenplay for Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He ignored the usual sequel conventions, as the background story had been clearly established in the first film and focused the script on the throughline of a dark fairy tale in which the world of magical creatures who have lived underneath humans for centuries finally have enough and start a rebellion. It was time for Hellboy to make a choice: which side of the war is he on?

“There was no need to recap or re-explain who everyone is,” del Toro provides. “We just get on with it. It’s a completely new story, a dark, poignant fairy tale. You can take the most dire, melodramatic arc and plug it into a movie, but as long as you’re acting it with monsters, it already has another meaning. The beauty of these stories is that, in an unrecognizable universe, you have very recognizable human emotions.”

Saving the world is a hell of a job, but Hellboy is ready; it’s what he was born to do. Help comes to Red with an assortment of fellow freaks, ensconced in a high-tech bunker at the B.P.R.D.’s New Jersey headquarters. Officially, the organization doesn’t exist, but a few stunned civilians have glimpsed the burly red gunslinger and his otherwordly cohorts in action. And like it or not, it’s time Hellboy met the public.

When last we met, Hellboy had saved humanity from a centuries-old mad monk who was hell-bent on raining destruction upon Earth. Now, he’s about to face a prince who’s been biding his time until he can lead the creatures of the dark to take back what used to be theirs. On the personal front, Hellboy is having an even tougher time at home. He and Liz have been together for about a year, and the honeymoon is decidedly over.

With the script in place, the filmmakers would begin the search for the monsters and freaks who fit naturally into Hellboy’s universe. Fortunately, it took little more than a phone call to get the close-knit original cast back in their B.P.R.D. uniforms.

Hellboy, Liza Minelli, Abe, Johann, Manning, Wink, The Angel of Death, Princess Nuala, Prince Nuada


Born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth as an infant to perpetrate evil, Hellboy was rescued from occult Nazi forces by the benevolent Dr. Trevor Broom who raised him to be the unlikeliest of heroes. Now, it’s up to the planet’s toughest, roughest, kitten-loving superhero to battle a merciless prince and his army of marauders.

He may be red, horned and misunderstood, but when you need the job done right, it’s time to call in Hellboy. It doesn’t hurt that the enormous red bruiser brings his right hand of doom (a virtual “sledgehammer” in the form of an invulnerable red stone attached to his forearm). If that doesn’t do the trick, he’s got “Big Baby,” a shotgun/revolver hybrid with bullets as big as baby food jars.


Pyrokinetic Liz Sherman has only begun to embrace the awesome powers that first manifested themselves at the age of 11 and tragically claimed the lives of her family. Shunned as a child because of her gifts, the shy Liz found not only a home in the B.P.R.D., but the love of her life in Hellboy. Tired of feeling like a freak, Liz warily accepts her team’s new role as no-longer-hidden heroes. When needed, she chants: “The fire is not my enemy, it is a part of me,” to unleash a barrage of flaming bolts upon any enemy who threatens friends or innocents.


An aquatic empath who is almost 150 years old, the brilliant Abe Sapien has the psychogenic power to read objects and know their past or the future. The consummate gentleman, Abe’s inordinate kindness is matched only by his passion for delectable, rotten eggs. The Ichthyo Sapien must use an Aqua-Lung to provide oxygen to his body when outside water and holds a very special place in his heart for the mysterious Princess Nuala who shares some of his gifts and his sense of justice.


The newest member of the B.P.R.D., Johann Krauss is a protoplasmic mystic who can briefly take control of entities, both mechanical and organic, and reactivate their neural senses. Schooled in the art of teleplasty and clad in a thick containment suit that holds in his gaseous ectoplasm, Johann’s ability to inhabit the inanimate will serve Hellboy, Liz and Abe quite well as they search for the monsters who go bump in the night...


Special Agent Tom Manning, chief FBI liaison to the B.P.R.D., has spent decades suppressing the existence of the secret group of superheroes from the public. Though he has averted many a PR catastrophe for the team (and parried endless fodder from tabloids eager to report on a devil-man), S.A. Manning has finally been pushed over the edge by Hellboy’s exploits in Manhattan. Now that the B.P.R.D. has been unveiled to a stunned world, Manning’s job is on the line, and Washington has demanded Johann Krauss to be the new public face for the formerly secret agency.

Prince Nuada

A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below, Prince Nuada has defied his bloodline to awaken an unstoppable army of creatures known as the Golden Army. He has returned from exile to the kingdom of Bethmoora to reclaim the land and the freedom he believes has been taken from his people. To make it happen, Nuada knows he will need the help of the good, the bad…and the worst.

Princess Nuala

The willowy, timeless beauty Princess Nuala has an uncanny resemblance to her brutal twin brother, Prince Nuada—down to the fine scars that mar her perfect face. She is the benevolent yin to her brother’s wicked yang. The favored child of King Balor, Nuala is entrusted with the final piece of the Royal Crown of Bethmoora, a gold treasure that will either bring peace to the universe, or reign destruction upon it.


Prince Nuada’s monstrous troll henchman, Mr. Wink, does the bidding of his vicious master—no matter how violent the instructions. From helping to set free a horde of fanged tooth fairies on an innocent crowd to scouring the Troll Market looking for a fight, Wink is a huge slab of an ugly creature. His gigantic club fist and extendable iron mace is quite the match for Hellboy and his right hand of doom.

The Angel of Death

The timeless and terrifying Angel of Death has been waiting in her underground lair for untold years to bear a mysterious prophecy to Liz and Hellboy…one that will affect their today and the future of the world. With a heart only of dust and sand—and only the occasional company of the Bethmoora Goblin—she will give two members of the B.P.R.D. a choice: gain new life or usher in an era of death.

Action-thriller Hellboy II: The Golden Army

In 2004, visionary writer/director GUILLERMO DEL TORO brought MIKE MIGNOLA’s comic-book hero Hellboy (RON PERLMAN of Blade II, Alien: Resurrection) to the screen. The overly muscled occult detective, complete with horns, tail and hard-boiled attitude, was an everyman who’d become a favorite of fanboys around the world, including del Toro. Del Toro introduced the reluctant crimefighter to a global audience with the feature Hellboy, and his film’s wit, action and ingenious practical effects launched a critical and commercial hit for comic lovers and general audiences alike.

The filmmaker’s epic odyssey continues with the action-thriller Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the feature follow-up to his 2006 triple Oscar®-winning masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth. Bringing bigger muscle, badder weapons, multitudes of monsters and a little domestic conflict at home, our favorite kitten-loving red hero is back. And this time, he kicks even more evil ass.
Hellboy fights the good fight when duty calls from his employer: the top-secret Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (a clandestine bureau created in 1943 by Roosevelt that uses secret technology, mysterious powers and a network of operatives with otherworldly powers to defend the world against the more violent supernatural—also known as the B.P.R.D.). He would, however, much rather kick back with a cigar, six-pack, his pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz Sherman (SELMA BLAIR of Legally Blonde, In Good Company) and their clutter of cats. But destiny has bigger plans for them.

After an ancient truce between humankind and the original sons of the Earth is broken, all hell is about to break loose. The anarchical underworld Prince Nuada (LUKE GOSS of Blade II, Unearthed) has grown weary of centuries of deference to mankind. He plots to awaken a long-dormant army of killing machines that will return what belongs to his people; all magical creatures shall finally be free to roam again. Now, only Hellboy can stop the dark ruler and save our world from annihilation.

Joining the wise-cracking, amber-eyed demon and his flammable girlfriend are returning principal Hellboy cast—including the bureau’s brilliant aquatic empath Abe Sapien (DOUG JONES of Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) and B.P.R.D. bureaucrat Tom Manning (JEFFREY TAMBOR of Superhero Movie, Arrested Development). Acclaimed actor JOHN HURT (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, V for Vendetta) is also back for the latest chapter in the franchise as Hellboy’s surrogate dad (and savior from the Nazis) Professor Trevor Broom. New to the team is the now public face of the formerly clandestine B.P.R.D., protoplasmic mystic Johann Krauss, a role shared by JOHN ALEXANDER (Mighty Joe Young, Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey) and newcomer JAMES DODD; Krauss is voiced by SETH MACFARLANE, creator of FOX’s smash-hit Family Guy and the man behind many of that show’s signature voices.

Nuada’s merciless drive for revenge is balanced by the regal compassion of his twin, the ethereal beauty Princess Nuala (ANNA WALTON of The Mutant Chronicles, A Girl and a Gun). ROY DOTRICE (Alien Hunter, Amadeus) plays their anguished father King Balor and BRIAN STEELE (Hellboy) portrays the Prince’s henchman Mr. Wink, plus multiple additional characters in del Toro’s world. Movement artist Jones joins Steele in portraying assorted practical-effects beasts, including the king’s highest court Chamberlain and the stunning creature that is the Angel of Death.

For this battle, the B.P.R.D. must travel between the surface strata of the humans and the hidden magical one, where creatures of fantasy rule. And Hellboy, a creature of both worlds who’s accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army’s behind-the-camera crew is an accomplished team of artists, including longtime del Toro collaborators: Academy Award®-winning cinematographer GUILLERMO NAVARRO (Pan’s Labyrinth, Night at the Museum), production designer STEPHEN SCOTT (Hellboy, Doom), editor BERNAT VILAPLANA (Pan’s Labyrinth, La Monja) and creature and makeup-effects head MIKE ELIZALDE (Hellboy, X-Men: The Last Stand). Joining the production for the latest Hellboy chapter are costume designer SAMMY SHELDON (V for Vendetta, Black Hawk Down), visual effects supervisor MICHAEL J. WASSEL (Evan Almighty, 2 Fast 2 Furious) and triple Oscar®-nominated composer DANNY ELFMAN (Spider-Man 2, Wanted).

With a screenplay by del Toro, Hellboy II: The Golden Army’s screen story was written by del Toro & Mike Mignola, based upon the Dark Horse comic book created by co-executive producer Mignola. Also returning for the film are noted producers LAWRENCE GORDON (Hellboy, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Die Hard), Lloyd Levin (Hellboy, United 93) and president and founder of Dark Horse Comics MIKE RICHARDSON (Hellboy, 30 Days of Night). CHRIS SYMES (Resident Evil, AVP: Alien vs. Predator) serves as executive producer.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Cast and Synopsis:

DreamWorks SKG Presents
A PDI/DreamWorks Production
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”
Produced by Mireille Soria Mark Swift
Directed by Eric Darnell Tom McGrath

Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Sherri Shepherd, Alec Baldwin and Will.i.am

Synopsis: In the highly-anticipated sequel to “Madagascar,” Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, King Julien, Maurice and the penguins and the chimps find themselves marooned on the distant shores of Madagascar. In the face of this obstacle, the New Yorkers have hatched a plan so crazy it just might work. With military precision, the penguins have repaired an old crashed plane — sort of. Once aloft, this unlikely crew stays airborne just long enough to make it to the wildest place of all — the vast plains of Africa, where the members of our zoo-raised crew encounter species of their own kind for the very first time. Africa seems like a great place…but is it better than their Central Park home?

Release: November 7, 2008

Tropic Thunder The filmmakers found Bertha

“We had to deal with a lot of rain and a lot of mud,” laughs Black. “But the locations looked great and they really added to our scenes. When you arrived on set, you kind of knew you weren’t making a typical comedy or a typical action film, and I think when people see the film they’ll understand why Ben picked those locations.”

“We were actually looking at one possible location for the compound when, all of a sudden, Ben and Jeff Mann said, ‘What about down there?’” recalls producer McLeod. With that, the crew hiked down a cliff and found a couple of hydroelectric plants from the 1930s. Says Mann, “Since ‘the hand of man’ had already been here and excavated part of the property, it afforded us a road to get in and out. We selectively cleared some of the vegetation to create space for the set, but we were careful not to upset the visual balance of the environment.”

The filmmakers brought in construction crews from Oahu and Los Angeles to widen the road for film production trucks, trailers and the other equipment needed to support the cast, crew and hundreds of technicians. Sets were then built, including a working hundred-foot wooden bridge leading into the compound. This bridge plays an integral role in the movie’s finale, so Mann and his team worked with a structural engineer on its construction. “The whole thing took a little over three months,” says Stiller. “The bridge is my favorite because it’s something that was conceived in a drawing, was integral to the story, and Jeff totally pulled it off. It makes for a great ending to those scenes in the compound.”

“When we first went out there to rehearse I realized what a drive it was,” remembers Downey. “Anyone can attest to the fact that it was just insane. It didn’t seem like there was any good reason why we should be shooting here. We could’ve just gone off the side of a major thoroughfare somewhere and made it look like this. But the truth is, we couldn’t have because this was so remote and so complete in its realism and isolation. It was so tough and so knee-deep in mud and rain, but we were blessed because there wasn’t a day that we didn’t enjoy, which is so rare. Oftentimes when you go into those situations or locations you think it’s going to be hell, but this was a very enjoyable purgatory for a month or two.”

One cast member had very few complaints about shooting in Hawaii, never letting it get in the way of her own agenda on the set. The filmmakers found Bertha, the water buffalo that Black’s character rides, in Texas and flew her to Kauai on a special plane. But about midway through filming, everyone was in for a big surprise. “One day the trainer called us and said, ‘Oh, by the way, Bertha can’t work because when we showed up at the corral this morning, she had a calf,’” recalls producer McLeod. “We didn’t know she was pregnant. No one knew she was pregnant. Bertha having this baby was definitely kind of a humorous morale booster for everyone.” In honor of Jack Black, the animal trainer named Bertha’s baby “Little Jack.”

“Tropic Thunder” is the largest production ever staged on the island

DreamWorks and Red Hour Films, Stiller and Cornfeld’s production company, brought in producer Eric McLeod, who had recently served as executive producer on the back-to-back productions of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” The team knew McLeod would be up for the challenge of shooting a film largely on location. “This was bigger than any movie I’ve ever been involved with in terms of scale,” says Cornfeld. “Eric had experience mounting major productions and was well-versed with working in exotic locations and with state governments and handling major set construction and explosions without harming the existing environment. He was the key to working out the logistics of this production.”

With a script in place and the producing team assembled, the filmmakers recruited costume designer Marlene Stewart (“JFK,” “True Lies”) to manage regular wardrobe needs and to research and acquire accurate Vietnam-era military uniforms, as well as to design hip-hopper Alpa Chino’s clothing line. Stiller and Cornfeld also recruited award-winning cinematographer John Toll (“Braveheart,” “The Thin Red Line”) and production designer Jeff Mann (“TRANSFORMERS”) to help bring their vision to life.

“We initially considered shooting in Southern California to double for Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar in Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle,” explains producer McLeod. “But all of us wanted a unique, lush, and different look to this film, and that’s what Kauai offered.”
A frequent destination for movie and television crews, the 32-mile wide island of Kauai has been utilized over the years for such notable films as “South Pacific” and the Costa Rica game preserve in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park.” Kauai’s various jungles, rivers, cliffs, waterfalls and other diverse terrains provided the crew of “Tropic Thunder” with multiple locations to mimic the film’s Southeast Asian locales and added an important realism factor that wouldn’t have been possible in California. In total days, scope of filming and manpower, “Tropic Thunder” is the largest production ever staged on the island.

Production designer Jeff Mann recalls that early in pre-production he and Stiller spent up to 25 hours over the course of six to eight weeks in a helicopter flying over the island looking for film locations, primarily the Hot LZ (“landing zone”) and the Flaming Dragon compound. ”We were looking for mountain ranges and environments that didn’t feel recognizably Hawaiian – without the red earth and vertical ridges of the Na Pali Coast,” Mann says. “We needed to discover someplace that felt more like the Golden Triangle.”

McLeod compares the film’s massive six-month pre-production process to “adult adventure camp.” He recalls, “As most of the movie was shot on Kauai, we scouted by helicopter, by boat, by ATV. We wanted unique locations, places that hadn’t been shot before. That required more work on our end, but in the end we found everything we needed and it was well worth the work.”

The movie’s exterior filming took place at seven locations primarily on Kauai’s northern and eastern sides before relocating back to Los Angeles for the Los Angeles locales and various interiors, which were primarily filmed on legendary Stage 12 at Universal Studios in Universal City, California (where, coincidentally, scenes from the Kauai-based production of “Jurassic Park” were also shot).

Starting with the first day of filming, Stiller led the cast and crew in filming a major battle scene for the fictional epic war film. Reminiscent of memorable war scenes in films from “Apocalypse Now” to “Saving Private Ryan,” this is where we first meet the heroes of the film-within-a-film.
The movie’s two major set pieces, the Hot LZ and Flaming Dragon Compound, were both shot on Kauai. The Hot LZ was situated on an expansive valley of tropical land, part of the privately-owned 40,000-acre Grove Farm property in Kauai’s county seat of Lihue. A few miles inland, across rocky, winding roads, was the Flaming Dragon Compound where the movie’s final action sequence takes place. The expansive set was built over several months at the edge of Mount Waialeale, a site that is noted for having 350 rainy days per year — more rain than any other place in the world.

‘Tropic Thunder’ opens with a major battle sequence

“‘Tropic Thunder’ opens with a major battle sequence, with soldiers running everywhere, helicopters crisscrossing, and tons of smoke; it feels as real as any Vietnam movie,” says production designer Mann.

Comedy is familiar territory for Stiller and Theroux, but the action elements were another matter, so the writing team consulted with famed military advisor Dale Dye to make sure the military action and jargon depicted in the film’s war sequences were accurate. Dye and his company, Warriors Inc., have lent their talents to dozens of films and television projects over the years, from “Band of Brothers” to “Saving Private Ryan,” and Stiller attributes their insight to making the first part of the story so strong and credible. Then to continue that authenticity throughout production, Warrior Inc.’s advisors Mark Ebenhoch and Mike Stokey were on set as technical advisors for the first few weeks of filming the Vietnam battle sequences.

“Ben had a mandate that the film’s opening scene be as real as possible, as if the actors had been through actual boot camp,” says Ebenhoch, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. “We worked to get the actors up to speed with weapons handling, tactical moving – basically giving them the look of realistic soldiers. We then took them out for training with the weaponry – how to fire, hold their weapons, and reload.” According to Ebenhoch, his biggest surprise was how adeptly Jack Black took to working with the weapons. “Jack had to fire an M60 machine gun and took to it like a baby takes to milk. He became very proficient with the weapon, which holds several hundred rounds.” “We trained with some very powerful artillery,” Black recalls of his brief training. “And somehow I got stuck with the heaviest gun, an M60; they call it a ‘pig.’ People were saying that I was a natural, though it’s disturbing to think that I could be such an effective, steady killing machine. Apparently when the chips are down, the fellas want me in that foxhole.”

Dye also worked closely with costume designer Marlene Stewart to check all the military uniforms for authenticity, as well as with stunt coordinator Brad Martin and his team of stuntmen who portrayed the U.S. Army infantrymen, Viet Cong soldiers, and Tran’s guerilla army. “Mike and Mark made everything look better,” says Cornfeld. “So when the movie opens, you’re really into it like you’re watching a regular big-budget action film.” To capture the feeling of being in a grand war movie, aerial coordinator Alan Purwin was brought in. Purwin’s credits include some of the best-known war films of the last two decades, as well as “Die Hard,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” and “TRANSFORMERS,” among numerous others. He was responsible for bringing in and flying the Vietnam-era Huey military helicopters used during filming, as well as manning the aerial choppers used for air-to-air and air-to-ground filming.

Special effects coordinator Michael Meinardus and his team were responsible for all the practical effects such as bullet hits, fire and smoke, rocket explosions, squibs and the aforementioned napalm explosion in Vietnam’s Hot LZ. This explosion was created with a 450 foot-long row of explosive pots filled with 1100 gallons of a 90/10 gasoline/diesel mix that were arranged across a field lined with coconut palm trees. In one take and at the flick of a switch, 11 cameras captured the controlled explosion that created a mushroom cloud fireball reaching 350 feet in the air. The entire staggered explosion consisted of 12 separate explosions, the full run of which was completed in 1.25 seconds.

Summing it all up, producer Eric McLeod notes that “Ben wanted to make everything the best it could be, and he was one of the hardest working guys on set. He wanted everyone to understand that this was not only a comedy, but an action film as well. He didn’t want to compromise. Ben made everything important, and when you watch the film you’ll see how the littlest details ended up being important for the film.”

The inspiration for ‘Tropic Thunder’ goes back to 1987

“The inspiration for ‘Tropic Thunder’ goes back to 1987,” says Stiller. “I had a really small part in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun.’ At that time all my actor friends were doing Vietnam films like ‘Platoon’ and “Hamburger Hill” and going off to fake boot camps for two weeks. Then during interviews they would say, ‘This boot camp was the most intense thing I have ever experienced in my entire life and we really bonded as a unit and a group.’”

Stiller pauses and laughs. “It was funny to me that actors were talking about this incredibly intense experience when in reality it was nothing like being a soldier and going to war. That sort of self-important, self-involved thing seemed funny to me; I just couldn’t figure a way to make that into a movie.”

Stiller teamed up with fellow actor Justin Theroux and began working out a first draft and outline for “Tropic Thunder.” “We had a first act and an outline for a few years,” says Theroux. “But getting the rest of the logic and story beats to work took a while. There were many, many drafts over the course of about five years”.

With Theroux living in New York and Stiller in Los Angeles, the two wrote scenes and e-mailed them back and forth. “Screenwriter Etan Cohen then joined in and it became a sort of free-for-all,” Theroux continues “It was exactly what you would want a writing experience to be – a whole lot of laughing and a whole lot of fun. “

The trio’s work eventually evolved into a shooting script, “about an incredibly bloated, top-heavy Hollywood production with a bunch of actors who didn’t do the work, didn’t do the research, barely learned their lines, and who are more obsessed with how they’re all going to come off in a war movie than with the subject matter,” Theroux explains. “The director, of course, has no control over his actors, which makes him go bananas. So he and John ‘Four Leaf’ Tayback — who wrote a best-selling memoir called Tropic Thunder — hatch a plan to kidnap the cast, take them to the jungle, and shoot the film ‘Blair Witch’ style. No more chefs. No more assistants. No more masseuses. No more trailers. No more TiVo. They’re just going to do it dirty, gritty, in the mud – the real deal, with real fear and real emotion.”

With that concept in mind, Stiller was adamant that the film not become a spoof. “The challenge was that it wasn’t just an action movie and it wasn’t a send-up,” Stiller explains. “At the end of the day, you need to invest in the reality of the situation, and care about these people or it doesn’t work. It was definitely influenced by a lot of real war movies, because I love that genre. I’m a real fan of those films. But it’s also about Hollywood and how it works on an extreme level. As stretched as things get in this movie, there is still a basic level of reality.”

“Ben has a tremendous gift for movie making,” observes Stiller’s producing partner Stuart Cornfeld. “In order to write something you really have to envision it, and then once you’ve envisioned it, directing is about delivering on that vision. Ben saw the film very clearly along these specific lines, knew exactly what he wanted to do and how much more there was to the movie than what was just printed on the page.”

“Writing, directing, producing and acting is a lot of work, but I always knew Ben could handle it,” continues Cornfeld. “When we worked together on ‘Zoolander,’ I was always astounded to see him carry the responsibility of a director and producer behind the camera, and then walk in front of the camera and deliver this amazing performance. I’ve come to believe that the acting really energizes him. When he steps in front of the camera, he is really able to dive into the character and deliver the performance, the improv and the energy. In a strange way, I think wearing all those hats is energizing for the whole production.”

Co-star Jack Black agrees. “Ben has made so many great movies, and now he’s also writing and directing. But this is the biggest movie he’s ever directed. It’s got huge, epic shots with helicopters coming through the mist and dodging mountains, machine gun fire, major explosions, tons of extras. Then he’s got to make it funny. And he does. He’s a pro, totally knows what he wants to do, and it was great working with him.”

Tropic Thunder Rounding out the main characters is Kevin Sandusky

Rounding out the main characters is Kevin Sandusky, an earnest young actor who gets his first big acting break playing newbie soldier Brooklyn. The role was given to up-and-coming comedy actor Jay Baruchel, who was recently seen in the summer 2007 hit “Knocked Up” and is currently filming his first comedy lead role in “She’s Out of My League.”

“Sandusky is the wet-behind-the-ears rookie actor, really eager and super-psyched to be there,” Baruchel explains. “He’s the only one of the cast who auditioned for the role, who bothered to read John ‘Four Leaf’ Tayback’s book, attended the actors’ military boot camp, and researched the role. So when things go bad for the cast, he becomes the de facto go-to man for all the answers. He’s the only one that actually knows how to read a map or load a gun properly. So, naturally, they all assume that he knows how to do things like fly a helicopter, too.”

Sandusky gets caught up in a power struggle between Speedman and Lazarus as both vie for his expertise to help them navigate their way out of the jungle. “That makes for an interesting turn by the climax of the film, one that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy,” he smiles. “I know I did.”
A host of talented actors comprise the supporting cast of “Tropic Thunder,” including award-winning veteran actor Nick Nolte. In “Tropic Thunder,” Nolte plays the real-life John “Four Leaf” Tayback, whose Vietnam memoir is the basis for the war film and is the basis for the character Tugg Speedman portrays.

Tayback is also on hand, serving as the movie’s technical advisor, and when things start to fall apart, he becomes the catalyst for the insanity that follows.

“I’m just living on the beach while all these spoiled brat actors are in their big hotels or special trailers with their personal trainers,” Nolte explains. “The young English director of this film can’t control them, and when there’s a major screw-up with a battle scene and the studio shuts down the film, I convince the director to get some video cameras and shoot it wild; take four or five days to go through the jungle, take the special effects guy along to blow some stuff up around them, and convince him that he’ll get real emotion from these guys. He’ll get real fear.”

Four Leaf, however, has some secrets of his own and he inadvertently lands the actors in a real battle against members of the Flaming Dragon, a drug-manufacturing guerilla army based in the Golden Triangle.

Damien Cockburn, the war movie’s frazzled director, is portrayed by British actor Steve Coogan, a major English comedy star, who is best known as the title character in BBC’s “I’m Alan Partridge,” and for his portrayal of Tony Wilson in Michael Winterbottom’s “24 Hour Party People.”

“I play this director who is drowning in this monolithic beast of a Hollywood production and the comedy springs from my misfortunes,” Coogan says. “Cockburn has to deal with all these actors and their huge entourages and a budget that is spiraling out of control. It looks like everything’s going to crash and burn but, ultimately, the film emerges unscathed.”

He pauses and then adds, “No thanks to me.”

Coogan was intrigued by how “Tropic Thunder” both pokes fun at and emulates how movies are made. “The film starts out looking like a big Hollywood war movie and then quickly becomes a high-concept comedy,” Coogan says. “It laughs at itself, and Ben’s sort of laughing at himself in the film as well. Although he’s playing a fictitious movie star, he really is a movie star. He’s mocking big movie stars who have a bunch of assistants running around, but Ben has a bunch of assistants running around him. He’s taking reality and just distorting it, caricaturing and exaggerating it to make it funny. We’re kind of showing the underbelly of Hollywood filmmaking and I think audiences will enjoy seeing how vulnerable everyone is in these situations.”

Danny McBride, whose comic chops will also be seen this summer in the “The Foot Fist Way” plays the film’s explosives expert, Cody, a trigger-happy explosions expert whose behavior is equal parts hilarious and scary. “SNL” regular Bill Hader, who has appeared in such recent hit comedies as “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” plays Rob Slolom, a meddling mid-level studio executive – the quintessential Hollywood bootlicker.

Tran, the head of the dangerous Flaming Dragons, is played by newcomer Brandon Soo Hoo. Stiller explains, “he is great in the film. He plays a 12-year-old who’s got this army of guys manufacturing heroin for him. This is his first movie and he is a great young actor. Just the way he looks at you, you know he could take you down. And when he starts fighting, it’s pretty amazing.”

Backing up Tran is his first lieutenant, Byong, played by Reggie Lee, best known for his work in “The Fast and the Furious,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Prison Break.”

Co–starring opposite Lazarus in the film is Alpa Chino

“Oscar®-winner Kirk Lazarus is specifically drawn to the character of Lincoln Osiris, who happens to be a black man,” says Cornfeld. “He seriously sees this as his next great acting challenge. Naturally, the studio doesn’t grasp how absurd this is. They just jump at the opportunity to have him in the film. When Lazarus reports for duty on set, he is Lincoln Osiris, and he refuses to drop out of character at any time throughout the entire movie.”

Lazarus is committed one hundred percent to the role. “Kirk’s heart is in the right place,” Downey says. “The way it’s portrayed is self-deprecating. He has literally gotten so into the role that he cannot get out of it, even when there’s no indication they’re making a movie anymore. Certain of us actors have gone that method route at times, but only up to a point. There’s professionalism and dedication; and then there’s total narcissism,” he laughs.

Justin Theroux, executive producer and co-writer of “Tropic Thunder,” observes that Robert Downey Jr. is “the man of a million characters. He’s an actor who can pull off virtually anything – comedy, drama – and like Ben, he’s a master of improv. Just watching them do a scene together was a joy to behold. It’s sort of like watching a beautiful little tennis match, because they’re both such talented and capable comedic talents.”

Co–starring opposite Lazarus in the film is Alpa Chino. Portrayed by actor-comedian Brandon T. Jackson, Alpa Chino is a multi-platinum selling hip-hop star, (whose most recent hit was “I Love Tha’ Pussy”) with an extensive merchandise line that includes the “Booty Sweat” energy drink brand, “Bust-A-Nut” candy bars and a menswear line for the Gap called “Alpa Chinos.”

Alpa has now set his sights on legitimate acting, playing a character named Motown, a badass soldier from Detroit who wears customized fatigues covered in graffiti. “My character is just this over-the-top, ridiculous guy,” Jackson says. “He’s so obsessed with the movie ‘Scarface’ that he has named himself after that film’s star, Al Pacino. And he’s a stickler about his name, too. People are always saying it wrong, so he’s always spelling it out: A-L-P-A.”

While Alpa Chino sees the war epic as a new career opportunity, he resents the fact that the role of Lincoln Osiris has been cast with Kirk Lazarus, which leads to some testy altercations. “Our characters are always getting into it,” says Jackson. “Alpa is insulted that the role wasn’t given to a black man. Yet, when he tries to argue this point with Kirk, it’s like talking to a wall.”

“Alpa Chino respects Kirk Lazarus the same way he respects Al Pacino,” Downey says, “because he grew up watching Lazarus in these Oscar®-winning parts. But, clearly, Lazarus has crossed a line and when the movie starts to go south, and they’re in real danger, his behavior becomes extremely irritating. Eventually, however, they develop a bond, which proves to be a really interesting twist.”

Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is a pampered action superstar

Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is a pampered action superstar on the wane. His “Scorcher” series of post-apocalyptic action epics have played out, and after a desperate attempt for an Oscar® nod backfires, Speedman is counting on “Tropic Thunder” to put him back on top.

Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) is the star of a popular gross-out comedy franchise called “The Fatties,” and now he’s looking to branch out, to show the world that there’s more to him than just getting laughs from passing gas.

Aussie thespian Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), the quintessential “method” actor, has won five Oscars® and is always on the lookout for new challenges and ways to transform himself for his “art.”

Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) seems to have it all. But the multi-platinum hip-hop-star-turned-entrepreneur is eager to move on up to the ranks of serious actors.

And newcomer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), well, he is just happy to have a job.

In “Tropic Thunder,” this unlikely group of self-absorbed prima donnas come together to film an epic war movie and unwittingly wind up in a real battle.

“On the surface, the actors cast in this war movie appear to be very different people,” says the film’s producer Stuart Cornfeld. “But at their core, they’re all trying to do something different with their careers, something new, and they’re hoping this war movie will be the way they reach that next level. The problem is that all of them, except maybe Kevin Sandusky – who’s worked really hard so that he’ll do well in the film – are so caught up in themselves, that they’ll never be able to achieve those goals.”

After the studio head threatens to shut down production, frustrated British director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) refuses to stop shooting and, instead, leads his unsuspecting cast deep into the jungles of Southeast Asia to complete principal photography “guerilla style.” With no assistants, entourages, or cell phones, the cast soon encounters a very real and very dangerous band of drug lords. Mistaking the actors for American DEA agents, they resolve to capture the “American invaders.”

In the movie-within-the-movie, Tugg Speedman (Stiller) plays John “Four Leaf” Tayback, the courageous real-life war hero whose memoir about his Vietnam exploits are the basis for the film.

“Speedman was the highest paid, highest grossing action star of all time,” says Stiller, who also co-wrote, directed and produced the film. “He’s completely pampered, completely out of touch. He is coming off of a few flops, including a blatant attempt to win an Oscar®. That movie is called ‘Simple Jack,’ in which he plays a mentally impaired farm hand who can talk to animals. And it totally backfires. It is one of the worst reviewed movies of all-time. Now, even his action movies aren’t doing well and he is in a really bad place. So, he needs this war film to work.”

Following Stiller’s vision of producing a genre-bending action-comedy, the filmmakers assembled an ensemble cast with actors who could pull off the comedic elements while still being believable in the movie’s more realistic moments.

For the role of Jeff Portnoy, the gross-out comedy star best known for his multiple roles in the “The Fatties” comedy franchise, the film makers had only one actor in mind: Jack Black. “Jack plays the archetypal, crazy, out-of-control comedy guy,” says Stiller. “The thing I love about Jack is that he is unique. Nobody else has his persona, his comedic vibe. He’s also committed. He took this character and embraced every aspect of him.”

“Jeff Portnoy takes things to a whole new level. Portnoy has made a career out of fart movies,” Black says. “I’ve done some gross-out movies myself, but Portnoy is at the next level above Jack Black in terms of dominating the world of farts.”

Although Portnoy’s lowbrow humor has made him an international superstar, Black explains, he now wants more respect as an actor. “Portnoy is trying to branch out and get a little more legit,” Black says.

As Portnoy and the rest of the cast get stranded in the jungle, we learn something else about him – he has a major substance abuse problem.

As Stiller observes, “You get to watch Portnoy going cold turkey. Jack naturally did it in a very entertaining way, but he also made it very believable. Being able to strike that balance is tough, but Jack totally committed to it.”

One of Black’s memorable moments occurred at the bad guys’ compound. In an attempt to rescue Tugg Speedman, Portnoy enters the compound semi-naked and hogtied, riding on the back of a water buffalo.

“I’m in my underpants strapped to the back of the water buffalo and my concern was how the water buffalo hide was going to feel against my naked belly and chest,” Black says. “Is it going to be a rough surface? Would I have an allergic reaction? But actually it was very soft, like one of those fancy tiger rugs you see in front of the fireplace in some movies. But she didn’t seem to be all that thrilled with me on her back. She gave me a couple of swats with her tail and looked around at me like, ‘I’m gonna buck your butt off!’ I could have sworn there was anger in her eyes,” he laughs.

The overly committed Australian actor Kirk Lazarus goes to the most extreme measures to realistically portray every one of his characters – in this case, having his skin surgically dyed to play an African-American sergeant, Lincoln Osiris.