Sunday, July 13, 2008

abe sapien: the hottest fish on two legs

Abe Sapien, a key player in the Hellboy universe, is an aquatic, psychic being whose origins are unknown. Like Hellboy, he is alone in the world. But while Hellboy knows and rejects his origins, Abe remains a mystery. (In the comics, Abe does eventually uncover the mystery of his existence, but I won't spoil it here. All I'll reveal is that time travel is involved.) Discovered in a water-filled tube beneath a D.C. hospital, the sole identifying marker on his tank is a piece of paper with the date April 14, 1865, the date of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Thus, Abe Sapien. Calm and intellectual, Abe is Hellboy's counterpoint in personality and appearance.

In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, we get to see more of Abe's personality. For apparently the first time in his life, he has a love interest, and he acts pretty much the way you expect someone to act while in the throes of his first crush. Additionally, he drowns his sorrows in a six-pack alongside his big red buddy, giving us our first priceless glimpse of drunk Abe.

In the first film, David Hyde Pierce (who did voice work on Mignola's The Amazing Screw-On Head) voiced Abe Sapien in an uncredited role. However, Doug Jones, who has done Abe's voice work on the past two Mignola/del Toro-produced Hellboy animated movies and physically played Abe in the first film, will be the voice of Abe this time around. It's a great step forward for Jones, who also plays the Angel of Death and the Chamberlain in Hellboy II.
from io9's interview with Doug Jones:
"The voice issue has been a monkey for a few years. I've been voiced over about three times. Unfortunately, they'd been three notable times, where people think I'm always voiced over. One of which was the first [Hellboy], but now that's been rectified and it's back to my voice. David Hyde Pierce did the voice over the first time because he was the bigger name and had the more recognizable sound. When you're marketing a film, that's a part of the film-making world that I'm not a part of. David Hyde Pierce is a consummate gentleman. When he came in to do the voice over for me for the first time, and he saw and heard my performance on film, he backed away and said, 'why am I here?' He ended up doing the job he was hired to do, but in the end he refused to take a credit in the film, he didn't show up to the premiere and he didn't do any press for the film. When asked why his answer was, 'out of respect for Doug Jones.' He didn't want to take anything away. Nobody does that in Hollywood, we're an ego-driven town. He has a very giving and humble attitude. He's become a hero of mine. I owe him a lot. When it came time to voice the characters for the Hellboy animated movies David Hyde Pierce politely declined, and they came and gave the voice to me and that set up the world of Abe. And when negotiations were coming for Hellboy II they said 'Doug, the voice is yours.' I feel like the character is all mine. When I'm hired to play a character I want to play the character, all of it. So thank heaven and Guillermo del Toro and David Hyde Pierce for that."

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