Guillermo del Toro: interview
Guillermo del Toro, whose ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ is out next week, is the Mexican writer, director and producer who began his career in the early ’90s with the low-budget Spanish-language horror ‘Cronos’. The creative spark evident in that film caught the eye of Hollywood and he was commissioned to make creature-feature ‘Mimic’. He’s since moved back and forth between Hollywood (‘Blade II’, ‘Hellboy’) and Spanish-language films (‘The Devil’s Backbone’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’). His latest is ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ and he’s now set to direct two films of Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’
Are you pleased with ‘Hellboy II’?‘I’m very pleased with it. Right now, in my personal list of favourite films, I’d have to say “Pan’s Labyrinth” is top, then “Devil’s Backbone” and then “Hellboy II”.’
I like your debut, ‘Cronos’.‘I have great affection for “Cronos”, but I like this more. The memories of making that film are so painful that it doesn’t quite make the top three. I think it’s a very nice first try and full of nice ideas, but I wish I’d had a little bit more budget.’
Would you describe ‘Hellboy II’ as a superhero movie?‘Up to a point I would say it was a superhero movie, as he’s a humanoid entity with incredible powers and has an origin story that’s quite pulpy. But it’s not in the normal sense. I’m curious to see how the second one is greeted by audiences, as I think it’s much more beautiful and crazy than the first one.’
The creatures in the film feel like they could have wandered over from the world of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’.‘Without realising it, I found I was still holding back a little bit with the first “Hellboy” and I think this movie belongs more in my universe than the first one.’
Your influences feel like they’ve come from painting and literature as much as film.‘More and more as I grow older, I find myself looking for inspiration in painting, illustration, videogames and old movies. I love what many of my contemporaries are doing, especially people like Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, PT Anderson and Alfonso Cuarón. However, I get more charged up browsing through one of my art books or looking at some paintings or illustrations. I also feel there are very beautiful atmospheric moments in videogames. Language-wise, there’s a lot to learn from them. Anime also. I love anime.’
Is animation a direction you’d be interested in exploring?‘I was actually planning on creating an animation studio this year. Everything was ready and about to be signed off, and then “The Hobbit” came along and interrupted things. But two years from now, you’re going to have an animated film by me. “The Hobbit” is going to be such a behemoth that I have to clear the table as much as I can.’
Recently, ‘The Orphanage’ came out in the UK and was advertised as ‘a Guillermo del Toro presentation’. Are you happy with becoming a brand?‘I’m happy as long as it’s used in that way. If, all of a sudden, I was presenting movies that I didn’t believe in, I’d slip on the fishnet stockings and fully prostitute myself. I’ve been making movies for 15 years, and I have only presented one movie that I’ve been comfortable with. I hope to present one or two movies every year, but only if I feel strongly about them. I love producing other people’s work, but presenting is a very serious business. It’s a marriage.’
Are you pleased that you’re making ‘The Hobbit’?‘Yes, I’m ecstatic. I feel like a guy about to go on a strange and dangerous trip to a country that is so exotic and beautiful.’
You’re constantly making, producing, writing or doing press for films. Do you have much of a family life any more?‘I’m fortunate enough that my personal life falls into whack with my professional life. My kids love visiting the sets, they love the monsters. My younger daughter has a mad crush on “Hellboy”. Sure, life some times does get a little painful in the personal department, but we are a circus family and that’s our life.’
Have you plans for any more Spanish-language films?‘I don’t know if it’s Spanish language or not, but I’m writing a smaller movie. One of “the strange ones” as I like to call them. It’s called “Saturn and the End of Days” and it’s about a boy called Saturn who watches the end of the world from an everyday point of view. The kid is there when the world ends and you see it from his eyes.’
Like a kind of ‘Omega Man’ for kids?‘That’s not a bad description. It’s seeing the apocalypse from the eyes of a child.’ ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ opens on Aug 20.
Author: Interview: David Jenkins
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