The great 'Hellboy' virginity debate: David Harbour 'sorry if someone was offended by that'

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

File this one under Superhero Controversies We Weren’t Expecting in 2019.

A quote from Hellboy actor David Harbour went viral last week. “He probably can’t have sex with a human being because it would probably end disastrously, because of his demonic parts or whatever,” the actor said of his character to Cinema Blend.

Per the Telephone game-like nature of the internet, the story was subsequently shorthanded as “Hellboy Can’t Have Sex,” leading to a good-natured ribbing from Harbour’s predecessor in the role, Ron Perlman, who shared the headline and boasted on Twitter, “The 1st guy did just fine!” (Perlman played the role in 2004’s Hellboy and its 2008 sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army.)

“It’s a funny thing, these junkets, because you say things and then people sort of pull them in any particular way they want,” Harbour told Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press day (watch above).

The 43-year-old Stranger Things star then elaborated on his original point, with an emphasis on the human being part.

“I was describing [what] was a creative process around the sexuality of a half-demon. … And for me the identity piece of this particular Hellboy is that he’s drawn to the villain character — it’s something that we have taken perhaps a liberty with [from] the comic.

“I feel like genetically, when you’re half-demon, you respond to different things. And I think human beings are confusing to him. They behave confusingly to him in their ways of their hatred of him, and also their love of him. So to me the genetic predisposition of sexuality was very interesting, and how that sexuality plays out. … To me it was more just about the attraction to the supernatural, the genetic attraction to non-simple human female or male.”

Perlman’s Hellboy, then, could copulate with Liz (Selma Blair), since she had pyrokinetic abilities. And it’s why in the new film, Harbour’s Hellboy is drawn to the ancient witch Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich).

Got it? Good.

“But whatever, it’s like everybody takes everything out of context and then just yells at each other,” Harbour lamented. “I’m sorry if someone was offended by that. Or especially if Ron was, because I adore him, and I’m not talking about the other movies, I’m talking about my particular creative process around a character and around what I think in my imagination of a character’s sexuality. I have no interest in attacking what anyone else has done with [this] franchise because I like these movies.”

From this vantage point it appeared the sharp-tongued Twitterer Perlman, who met with Harbour after he was cast in the role (along with intermediary Patton Oswalt), was just having some fun at his replacement’s expense (as he has with the film in the past), as much as some folks might like to think it’s Perlman avenging the fact that his return to the role in a once-planned Hellboy III with del Toro never materialized. Though then again, who really knows besides Perlman?

“We all gotta troll each other, man, it’s social media,” Harbour laughed.

Hellboy opens Friday. Watch the cast talk about the film’s insanely detailed costumes:


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