Hellboy 2 - The Science of the Supernatural
[Rudy Koppl] I know Universal wanted to hire a British composer,
how did the choice of Danny Elfman come about?
[Guillermo Del Toro] This wasnt an easy film to score.
Marco Beltrami is fantastic, but I was always very curious about working with
Danny Elfman and I thought this was the perfect opportunity. The original idea
was to hire a British composer and then for whatever reason Dannys name
came forth. Danny had worked many times in England in the past and everything
started to develop that way. Hes American, but everything seemed to fall
into place with him. I never thought that we could be able to afford him and
he would be very difficult to get because hes always very busy. Kathy
Nelson (President of Film Music for Universal Music Group and Universal Pictures)
said, I think we can get him, I know him very well. At that point
I felt we could only benefit if we tried.
By working with Elfman, did you learn anything through his
experience as a composer?
In any field of filmmaking its one of the most rewarding collaborations
Ive ever had in my life; it was extremely rich, extremely generous of
him because every time we would talk about things I felt there was a true kinship
of spirit. With Marco I have the greatest admiration and Im a collector
of his music, his score for the first movie is brilliant, but his personality
would have been perhaps the wrong marriage for this one. I feel very close to
him, but I felt a kinship of a different kind. We came through the ranks together,
we both went through the Miramax grinder, so I feel like hes more of a
colleague, but with Danny it was different, it was working with somebody that
is in some ways more seasoned of a composer.
In the filmmaking process when did you first start thinking
about the music you wanted for HB2?
When I was writing I was already talking about Ray Harryhausen,
I was already talking about doing a Bernard Herrmann adventure score like The
Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts. Thats
what I presented Danny with from the start. I said to him, I want this
scored like an old fashioned adventure. He loved it! He really did something
remarkable because he did not just ape or copy the Herrmann style, which is
in and of itself not easy to do, but he procreated that style and somewhat fused
it with his own. Theres some pulse and rhythm in Dannys music that
is very Herrmannesque, but he made it even more so on this film. For the temp
we used Jason and the Argonauts, but mostly I tried to temp it with Dannys
music. I used a little bit of Planet of the Apes, a little bit of Edward
Scissorhands, and some more scores as well.
What was the key to making the score work for Hellboy 2?
There is a big variation in that. Danny composes in a very operatic way. He
creates a theme for each character, but we decided early on not to use Marcos
Hellboy Theme because I didnt want it to sound close to Dannys
music, I didnt want to pillage from Marco. I felt it was an unfair situation
for both composers. Its a very jarring effect to have one personality
of a composer sort of shoehorned into another score. I agreed with Danny to
make the theme of the movie The Golden Army Theme or The Theme
of the Adventure. Lets not make it the theme of Hellboy, but the
theme of the adventure. He did a very minimalistic cue for Hellboy, but its
not one of the more reprehensive themes of the movie. Danny proceeded to create
themes, sounds, personality, all the personality for the prince, the princess,
and the elf kingdom, and then he just proceeded to fuse it all together.
Due to a complex cast of characters, wasnt it impossible
to create themes for them or was this something you wanted, so they could interplay
with each other throughout the film?
Danny did compose a character theme for the prince, a character
theme for the princess, a love theme for Abe and the princess, he did take a
thematic approach, but what I think is different is that he found the most memorable
theme in the movie, The Theme of the Adventure or The Golden
Army Theme. In a way you get this kind of feeling from some of Herrmanns
scores in his adventure films. The score for each of the Sinbad movies contains
very important variations, the score for one of the Sinbad movies can be lusher
than another or another one can be a little more fantastic. I wanted Hellboy
2 to have a new personality with The Golden Army Theme.
What was interesting about this score is that one moment Danny
is playing romantic music for Hellboy and Liz, then immediately the movies changes
direction and the music has to be completely different.
Danny has a range that is a delight to explore. The movie endeavors itself
to allow him to play with that range. He can do something very whimsical and
almost cartoon like with the tooth fairies, then he can compose on an epic scale
when awakening the stone giant, and then he can do something really romantic,
sweet, and moving, for example during the death of the prince.
Elfmans use of a child singing is very interesting.
That came from Danny when we were talking about the tooth fairies being playful,
he came up with idea of having a child singing and this little xylophone sound,
so the tooth fairies would be childlike and creepy at the same time.
You brought in this new character, ectoplasmic physical medium
Johann Krauss, did this change anything musically?
Hes essentially made of ectoplasm. Theres only a
brief theme for him in his introduction. We wanted to make it very Teutonic,
very Bavarian. He did this little march for when Johann is first introduced
that I thought was very whimsical and funny.
This takes us back to Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, the mechanical
German solider that reassembles himself in the original Hellboy.
Not necessarily in the second film. We did plant some seeds on the second one
where we see Johann watching the mask of Kroenen, which is the Nazi from the
first movie, but they would be recalled only if there was a third movie, which
is probable, but not necessarily a sure thing.
Youve taken it this far, I would hope there would be
a third one someday.
I would love to because Hellboy is close to my heart. The reason why the movie
can be successful at any level is because the elements that are engineered are
all of very high quality. The actors are fantastic, the creature design is fantastic,
the music is fantastic, and the cinematography is fantastic, so Im truly
blessed with a great team and a great cast.
What were the key musical sequences in your film, parts where
the music was essential to fulfill your vision?
The Troll Market because the music really gives us the spirit
of the place and The Golden Army chamber and The Golden Army fight because the
music was crucial to it. It visually was narrative; it was narrating the character
of the robots. The threat of The Golden Army works within a fantasy based film.
The beauty of the music is it reveals the character of the robots as much as
the animation and the sound effects because we married them to percussion and
brass. They have a decidedly Herrmannesque rhythm, a very punchy theme, which
is my favorite theme in the movie.
What did you love about working with Danny?
It was very exciting working on such a scale and at Abbey Road. There was something
mythical about it because of everything thats associated with Abbey Road
has a certain mystique. Ive never scored there and I felt really privileged
to be there. I hate to sound political, but I really loved working with Danny
on every part of the scoring process. It was one of best experiences Ive
ever had in my life. When you find people like Marco or Danny or Javier Navarrete,
you realize that youve been blessed. Ive had a good relationship
with almost all of my musicians and never had a bad experience.