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In part one (see here) of our interview with Luke Goss, the British actor previewed his work in the upcoming DEATH RACE 2 (out on disc January 18 from Universal). In the prequel, Goss plays Carl Lucas, a convicted bank robber and cop killer who eventually becomes known as Frankenstein, the ace contestant in the violent prison-set Death Race competition. Today Goss discusses his other genre contributions, including his two Guillermo del Toro creature features. (Go here to find out about FANGORIA’s DEATH RACE 2 screening in LA tomorrow night, hosted by Goss himself!)
FANGORIA: What went into playing Prince Nuada in HELLBOY II?
LUKE GOSS: That’s the role for which I get such great responses from genre fans. I got to Budapest a good 11 weeks before principal photography to train. Before that, I did about two weeks’ training in LA, just to say, “This is what’s coming soon.” Later, I ended up doing six days a week for six hours a day, including sword work with a great guy named Max White, who worked on 300. I’d go all day and night with the training, just to get as lean and mean and strong as I could. I also wanted Nuada to be very svelte and low-profile—as much as he can as an exiled prince. We would do scenes and stop, and then one of these weird creatures from the marketplace would show up. And I was thinking, “That thing defies physics, how does it even work?”
One of my co-characters I worked with was Wink [Brian Steele], and I didn’t know what to expect from the page, but you know he’s gonna exist in some form with del Toro. But thanks to the [practical] effects, which were concealed, it was like working with a real Wink; I didn’t have to pretend he was there. So that was a wonderful experience.
FANG: What insight did del Toro give you to play Nuada?
GOSS: He’s an amazing director. As much as he knows exactly what he wants, he also hires people he thinks are going to bring something that they feel is right also. I remember walking on set, and he hadn’t seen Nuada walk or talk yet, and I just hoped it was gonna be close to what he wanted. But it was discussion-based. Imagine two fanboys talking about Nuada and saying, “How about this and that?” and basically having a discussion about this elf; that was the process. The collaborative energy with him involves talking about it and then doing it, and that just helps feed my backstories and some of the things I’m inventing. It’s like this wonderful playground; it’s not as academic as with some directors, it’s more inspiring and conversation-based, and then that applied to the building process of the character.
FANG: You bring amazing sympathy to your villains, like BLADE II’s Nomak.
GOSS: Well, Nomak’s definitely visually terrifying. Even when I look at it now; “Wow, I wouldn’t want to mess with that guy.” He’s clearly filled with rage. So I decided to drive it pretty much entirely from father-son issues. I always believe that if you don’t find their weakness or their fragile area, it’s a huge gamble. Villains start somewhere; they don’t begin bad, they start out in a much more normal, less angsty place. If I’m asked to do a villain, and it’s an out-and-out villain, I have no interest in it. We all have our own real-life issues—like parents breaking up in my case—and you think, “How do I find this guy’s weakness?” Because if I make him as strong as possible, and the screenplay dictates that I kick ass, I need to find some way to bring a human element—especially if they’re not actually human—to the character, so that the audience can say, “I get it. I’m not saying that’s the right thing he did, but I understand it.” And that’s when you’ve befriended the audience. Otherwise it’s boring.
FANG: You undergo another makeup transformation in DEATH RACE 2. What’s with the love affair with latex?
GOSS: [Laughs] I have to be honest, I really hate it. My baptism by fire was with Nomak, for sure. I’d never done [makeup], and then suddenly I was going through more than four and a half hours—which was nothing compared to Nuada. But I tell myself, “However you feel like now, the physical sensation in your arms, chest, neck, face, that’s what you feel.” To be loaded with that [makeup] stuff and taste it in your mouth, wearing the lenses, you can’t hear properly, the restrictions… I just say, “That’s how the character feels. That’s him.” So it’s strangely helpful for those characters, in a weird way. Before the lenses and teeth go in, I’m me. So I don’t let myself ever try to portray those characters involved in makeup before it’s all done, because that’s the sealing of the deal. That’s when it all adds up.
But I really hate the process. You get up before everybody else; when everybody’s just coming in from the bar, you’re going to work. And when everyone’s going home to get beer, you’re just going into cleanup. Then the weirdest thing is that when you get someone to sit with you, you have to introduce yourself twice every day to people, because they don’t recognize you. And you’re like, “We met earlier,” and they’re like, “No, we didn’t.” [Laughs] It’s a very strange process.
FANG: I liked seeing you go mano a mano with Lance Henriksen in the underseen BONE DRY.
GOSS: Yeah, that was with a great director named Brett Hart, and I hope he keeps making films, because at some point he’s going to be a very recognized director. He’s nuts, talented and creative and deserves to be way more well-known than he is. Lance is a good friend of mine now; BONE DRY forged that friendship. During the shoot, in one of the hottest recorded summers in Death Valley, it was like 140 on the flatbeds. And it’s weird, you’re drinking more than a gallon a day and you’re not peeing. Your body doesn’t know what’s going on. I was certainly very proud of it, and I really committed on that film. That was guerrilla, with a really small crew of about 40; we were going through six weeks of just hell in the desert. There were no soundstages out there.
FANG: Another desert-set thriller you did was UNEARTHED, which failed because they never got the creature right.
GOSS: I agree, 100 percent. When somebody says, “Do you wanna do it?” and I read the script and I see there’s dragons or shit like that, and the budget’s under $10 million, I say, “Count me out.” I’m also producing and directing now, and I think you should be smart and show less. Because what you don’t see in the shadows is what scares all of us anyway. If you start seeing too much, and you can see the mechanics—and also if it’s really similar to a monster that’s iconic, as in the case of UNEARTHED—it’s not a good idea. The creature looked like one of the Aliens’ offspring. You can’t do that! Make it something different. I watched it, and I didn’t want to see it run across the road, I wanted to see bits of it that scared me. Not only that, on UNEARTHED the execution was not definitive enough across the board. The creature should have been the absolute star of the film, regardless of who was in it. And it wasn’t.
FANG: COLD & DARK could have been a contender too; from what I hear, the production company ran out of money to adequately finish it.
GOSS: Yeah, I read the script and really liked the weird, odd quirkiness of it, and on the page it really, really read. I want to get on those monster forums where guys like to bag on everything and smack them in the face and say, “Guys, if you really love film, try and understand the process. People are trying to make films for you, but they don’t always have 100 million bucks to do it.” They have a million or 2 or 3, and they’re trying to deliver the film. So the execution is in the hands, horribly, of money, alongside talent. But when you run out of money and can’t polish off the edges like those guys, it shows. COLD & DARK could have been pretty cool.
FANG: You played the Creature in TV’s FRANKENSTEIN. What went into your characterization?
GOSS: It was illuminating. I read the book, and I remember [Mary Shelley’s] description of the character, which was that he had all these horrific scars, long dark hair, etc., and I thought, “I’ve never seen him played that way, that must be how it really is.” When you’re fortunate enough to have the horse’s mouth right in front of you, to me that’s the Bible of the piece. You can’t change it, it’s internationally a classic piece of writing. But again, he’s very fragile, he’s very scared and he’s not angry until he’s betrayed. The weirdest thing is that of all the characters I’ve played, the only guilt I felt leaving a character was the Creature. When I wrapped, I felt like I had abandoned him; I felt very sad and I was very upset for a few weeks. I had this little guilty feeling running through me. It was a good journey.
FANG: I hope that credit doesn’t preclude you from being in del Toro’s planned FRANKENSTEIN.
GOSS: I would absolutely love to play that part in his film, but if I know del Toro, he would want somebody who’s never done it before.
FANG: No, you could play Dr. Frankenstein this time.
GOSS: I could, but I’m not sure I’m right for that whole upper-crust English gentry [type], as much as he loses his mind and it’s a lovely character. I’m not in a hurry to do prosthetics again, either. Back on the miniseries, when they offered it to me, they said, “What role do you want?” and I said, “The Creature, of course.” That’s the challenge.
FANG: What are your career goals at this point? You mentioned you’re going to be producing and directing.
GOSS: There are a few that I’m gonna produce, actually four films. There’s one I’ve written and am producing right now where it looks like we’re gonna be shooting in Shanghai in April, that I’m also in. We have offers out to Andy Garcia, Chow Yun-fat and Ice Cube. It’s a heist movie, but a bit more old-school in the sense that it’s a buddy/Robin Hood movie, just a fun one to watch. The other is a thriller called YOUR MOVE, which is very, very intimidating, about a man who witnesses the attack of his wife on a video call from the other side of the world and can’t get to her for another day. I can’t even comprehend what that would be like. I’m doing a Western, in the vein of a spaghetti Western, and a great movie called EYES OF THE KING. And I’ve just been asked to do a project called THE CURE, which I’m so excited about. It’s set in the ’50s, about a jazz musician who has a mixed-race love affair.
I’m not intimidated by the genre stuff because I’m in it a lot, but if I was to write one, fans would have every right to say, “It better be bloody good, Luke, or we’ll kick your ass.” So if I come up with one that’s really good, then I’d make it, but I don’t wanna be crucified by these boys. That I’ll leave to the del Toros of the world.
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