TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Doug Jones: The Craziest Day of My Career

The Craziest Day of My Entire Career is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite people about some truly unbelievable stories. This time around, we’re joined by actor Doug Jones. He often portrays non-human creatures with the help of visual effects, prosthetics and heavy make-up. You’ve seen him in “The Shape of Water” as the amphibian man – and as the terrifying faun with eyes in his palms in “Pan’s Labyrinth.” When we asked him about the craziest day of his entire career, he took us back to 1998 to the set of the film “Bug Buster.” During filming, he had an unforgettable run in with Randy Quaid. You can check out Doug Jones’ latest work on “Star Trek: Discovery” on CBS: All Access and “What We Do In The Shadows” on FX Now.

Guests: Doug Jones

Transcript

linda holmes

I’m Linda Holmes. It’s Bullseye.

music

“Huddle Formation” from the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team.

linda

Time, now, for “The Craziest [censored] Day of My Entire Career”—a regular segment we do on the show, where we talk with some of our favorite creators about—well, the craziest [censored] day in their entire career. [Music ends in a chorus of cheers.] Next up, Doug Jones. Doug Jones is easily one of the most distinctive actors working today. He plays monsters a lot—putting on body suits or prosthetics over his tall, lanky frame. He’s worked a lot with the director Guillermo del Toro. He was the Fawn, in Pan’s Labyrinth, and the scary guy with his eyes in his hands. He was the fish guy in The Shape of Water. What’s he been up to, lately? Well, if you’ve watched What We Do in the Shadows—the brilliant vampire comedy, on FX—Jones played the Baron: a grotesque, centuries old sort of super vampire.

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Music swells and fades.

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The Baron: [In a classic, vampirical accent.] I must slumber. But when I awaken! We will rule this Stat-ten Isle-land! [The others slowly begin to clap and cheer.]

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Music swells and fades.

linda

He also plays Commander Saru on Star Trek: Discovery. Saru is the Kelpien first officer of the starship Discovery who, on more than one occasion, has been forced to take command of the ship.

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Music swells and fades.

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Music: Muted string music. Saru: Discovery is no longer Lorca’s. She’s ours! And today will be her maiden voyage. We have a duty to perform and we will not accept a no-win scenario. You have your orders. On your way. The Crew: Aye, Commander.

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Music swells and fades.

linda

When we asked him about the craziest day of his entire career, he took us back to 1998 and an unforgettable run-in with one Randy Quaid. Take it away, Doug!

doug jones

I’m Doug Jones and this—

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Eerie sci-fi music. As the music swells, it begins to include the skittering and scuffling sound effects associated with large insectoid creatures.

doug

—is the craziest [censored] day of my career. [Beat.] Well, the movie was called Bug Buster. You didn’t hear me wrong; it was Bug Buster. [Laughs.] Uh, and you have not heard of the movie, either, because—well, it was Bug Buster. In this movie, I played a character called the Mother Bug. So, [sighs] to give you the setup, this small town is being invaded by insects that are big and predatory and killing people. So, people are dying off one-by-one and, “What do we do, what do we do?” So, they call in a military force led by Randy Quaid. Randy Quaid, of course, who was the wacky dad who flew a plane into the aliens in Independence Day and also the hillbilly brother and law in the Vacation movies—the family Vacation movies. And he’s this crazed guy with coke-bottle glasses.

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General George S. Merlin: [Shouting.] Hi, folks! General George, here!

doug

And he’s like, [in a raspy shout] “Let’s kick some bug [censored]!” [Music ends.]

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General George: It’s just you and me. Let’s get ready to bumble!

doug

So, they’re trying to figure out where are these bugs coming from. They track it to a cave just outside the town and by this time, everyone’s died off. It’s just Randy Quaid, now. [Laughs.] And so, he goes into this cave by himself—loaded up with a bunch of weapons.

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Gritty, action adventure music with metallic clinking.

doug

And in the cave, he finds: [singing] dun-da-da-daaa! Doug Jones playing the Mother Bug, in a huge costume. I have a stinger coming out of my [censored]. I’ve got pinchers coming out of my front. A big head that I can’t control. I’m looking through the neck of this big bug costume head, thing. [Laughs.] And I can barely see through the netting in front of my face. So, what happens now is Randy Quaid looks at me and like, [in a raspy shout] “Heeey! [Stammering.] You know, you wanna piece of me?” And he shoots me with his gun.

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Music: Dramatic action music. General George: Let’s see how you like a little hot lead! [The sound of a gun firing several times in slow succession, each gunshot followed by the squish noise of impact. The Mother Bug shrieks.]

doug

Well, bullets don’t kill me. Okay, he throws his gun down. Then he gets a flamethrower from around his neck and [mimics the “kshhh” noise of the flamethrower] and tries to burn me to death.

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General George: [Shouting.] Let’s see what you look like as a fireflyyy! [Screams.] [The sound of flames and the Mother Bug’s squeals.]

doug

So, then I don’t burn. Well, then he pulls out a CO2 gun and tries to freeze me. [Mimics the “pshhh” sound of the CO2 gun.]

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[The Mother Bug screeches.] General George: You have messed with the wrooong exterminator, sweet cheeks!

doug

That doesn’t work. So, then it gets weird. Uh. He… throws all of his weapons down and puts his fists in the air and says:

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[The Mother Bug shrieks.] General George: Okay. It’s just you and me! Mano a mano! C’mon!

doug

[Sighs loudly.] So, [laughing] now, into—like I said, this was when the weird part starts. We have to have a hand-to-hand combat with this crazed ex-general and a six foot, three- and half-inch insect. Probably the top question I get asked, from interviewers and fans alike, is comfort. How comfortable or uncomfortable is a creature costume or makeup? Being 6’3.5” and weighing 140 pounds, there’s no manufacturer that makes that freaky size. So, I have to have everything tailored. But this also is quite true for creature costumes, which are all custom-made anyway. Rarely can you find a Mother Bug costume at the Gap. So, that does take a custom fitting that starts with a life cast of one’s body.

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Gentle, bright music.

doug

I’ll have to be standing. Be plastered and—so they can get an actual impression of my entire form, from head to toe. A life cast that gets details of my face and shoulders. So, they’ll do an entire head and shoulders life cast. These are then sculpted upon with clay and then they make a negative impression of that to then make the positive impression pieces out of latex foam rubber or silicone. It’s quite an involved, multi-layered—you know—month’s long process that happens at the creature shops. So, yeah. So, much like buying jeans, for me, creature costumes take a bit of tailoring. And I get asked all the time, like, “Was it hot in that costume? Was that makeup sticky? Was it hard to see? Could you hear? Could you eat? Could you breathe?” The answer is usually: hmm, not really. To all those questions. Except, yes, it was excruciatingly hot. The less ideal suits are the ones that are farther from human. So, the farther you get from human, the less comfort you will have. So, this costume—being an insect—I was about as far from human as I’ve ever played. [Laughs.] So, I had to keep a certain posture about me. The weight that was—that was distributed unevenly with that posture, of being crouched over and [makes a nasally “nyuuuh” sound], was excruciating. And even the head part of this—the head of the bug was on top of my head, so it was a separate piece and my own head was in the neck. And it had a—it had a pully contraption so that when I moved my head to the right or the left, the head above me would also respond and move to the right or the left. But it wasn’t—it wasn’t well oiled. It was, like, [makes a strained, screechy sound, followed by a thump, several times as he demonstrates the difficulty of turning]. So, my skinny, long, pencil neck was really put to the test, that day. [Music fades out.] So, with the choreography that was set before us, I had to warn Randy—I—we had to have a talk. I’m—and I’m talking to him through this netting. I can barely see him. And I’m like, “Uh, Randy, uuuh—just so you know, I can’t see very well. And these pinchers on my front arms are, like, six feet long and they’re made of fiberglass. So, uh, they might be sharp. Be careful.” And he was like, [loud and cheerful] “Uh, Doug, buddy, don’t worry about it! Just do what you gotta do! Let’s make this fight happen. Come on, let’s do it! Like, yeeeah!” I was, [surprised speechless], “Oh—al-alright.” So, we had a hand-held camera on a—a Steadicam operator following us around. Aaand action!

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Quiet, tense music.

doug

Well, we start in. I start swinging. He starts swinging. We’re going back and forth and rocking bodies this way. I’m slamming into the cave wall. And then he slams me to the—something over there and then we—I get him and throw him to the ground and we’re rolling around on the ground and finally end up with me on top of him. Aaand cut. That’s when all the helpers in the room pull me off of Randy, ‘cause I can’t get up myself [laughs], it’s—I’m exhausted. I’m like, [panting heavily]. And they put me in my special bug chair, which is not a chair-chair, because I have a stinger out of my [censored], remember, so I’m kind of leaning forward on a bicycle seat. I tell the assistant to just help me to get into this chair. [Panting.] “Can you check on Randy, real quick? I didn’t see him get up.” Well, then I hear this voice from across the cave. It’s Randy. [Brightly.] “Uh, Doug, buddy—can you hear me? Uh, yeah. No, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. You just keep doing you. We can go again. It’s all good.” The next voice I hear is a young production assistant—about 20—a very nervous kid that yells out, [voice cracking] “Uuum, can I get some ice over here? I can’t stop the bleeding.”

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Music swells to a dramatic piano and drum solo.

doug

[Laughs.] So, as it turns out, I had gashed both of Randy Quaid’s forearms and he was pumping blood [laughing] out of his body. So, I embarrassedly—I tried to apologize. [In his Randy voice.] “No, I’m—” He swore we was good to go again! They bandaged him up and he—we did it again! Take two, with Randy Quaid bandaged up to keep him from dying. [Music fades out.] So, I—for a minute there, I thought, “I will be remembered as the Mother Bug who killed Randy Quaid.”

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Bright, cheerful music with bass vocalizations.

doug

So, I almost wondered what happened to Randy Quaid and was he okay? I never followed up until years later, we happened to both be in the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie together—The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. We were at the table read for this, over at Universal Studios. He was playing the head of the FBI and I was playing an FBI agent who got kidnapped. We didn’t have any scenes together, in the movie, but we were at the table read together. So, I walked over to him and said, “Randy. Hi. Doug Jones. You’re not gonna remember me.” [Laughs.] “Cause, last time you saw me, I was in a giant bug costume. I was the Mother Bug, in Bug Buster.” And he went, [brightly] “Oh my gooosh! Right!” And I said, “Look, I need to apologize to you and follow-up. Are you okay? Are your forearms okay? Because I almost killed you that day, by gashing them with my pinchers.” And, well, he laughed and said, [brightly], “I don’t remember that at all! That really happened?!” So, I’m like, “Oh! Pfft, I didn’t need to apologize at all, right?” I guess he was okay! [Music ends on a cheerful chord.]

linda

Doug Jones on the craziest [censored] day of his entire career: the time he almost stabbed Randy Quaid. You can watch Doug in the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, on CBS All Access, right now. The show’s third season is set to come out later this year.

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Upbeat, bright music.

linda

That’s the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye is produced out of the homes of me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around various parts of the country. Here in DC, I’m missing everybody. But my indoor herb garden gave me a basil leaf as big as the palm of my hand. The show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our producer is Kevin Ferguson. Jesus Ambrosio is our associate producer. We get help from Casey O’Brien and Jordan Kauwling. Our interstitial music is by Dan Wally, also known as DJW. Our theme song is by The Go! Team. Thanks to them and their label, Memphis Industries, for letting us use it. You can also keep up with the show on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Just search for Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. And I guess that’s about it! Just remember: all great radio hosts have a signature sign off. Mine is, “Thanks, Jesse.”

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Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR. [Music fades out.]

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Music: Relaxed guitar music. Ophira Eisenberg: Hi, I’m Ophira Eisenberg, from NPR’s Ask Me Another. If you like comedy, trivia, and celebrity interviews, then check out our show! Listen and subscribe to Ask Me Another, from NPR: the answer to life’s funnier questions. [Music fades out.]

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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