Caliburn24 here with the Hero Complex screening of two films by Guillermo del Toro was held on Saturday, May 11.
The previous article dealt with the screening and focused on del Toro’s comments on Devil’s Backbone. The host, Gina McIntyre, asked Guillermo del Toro about Pacific Rim: “The thing with Pacific Rim was all of my childhood, in the 60’s and 70’s in Mexico, a lot of our entertainment was pop Japanese culture. It was Captain Ultra (a 1967 live action series), Ultraman (1966 tokosatsu series with the superhero guy in silver outfit throwing some martial arts moves on giant monsters), Ultra Seven (another 1967 live action series), Ultra Q (a black and white first in the Ultra series). We grew up with Wolfboy Ken (1963 anime), Astro Boy (Osamu Tezuka’s manga turned into a landmark 1963 anime), all of the Tsuburaya animation. I spent a lot of my childhood drawing giant robots and designing the interiors. I would put my bedroom, the big kitchen, the reactor. There would always be two features in the giant robot; a cinema and a toilet. Which is really revealing.”
Del Toro was asked by a fan about his collaboration with Ron Perlman including his part in Pacific Rim: “What happens is that after five films you have a super short hand with everyone. With Ron he can arrive the day of the shoot and we’re going to make it happen. For example in Pacific Rim, he plays Hannibal Chow. He came in and originally I said I want you to soud like Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry (1960). `For what is love?’ He started like that and we went it’s not working is it? Then, we started finding the voice of Hannibal and we finally found it. A lot of directors are afraid of actors. That’s a reality that few people acknowledge or verbalize because actors are often frustrated with directors. I think when you have a short hand and you love your actors, and you have some acting experience, and so on, it’s very easy.”
He continued with explaining his friendship with Perlman and also waiting for him to play Hellboy: “With Ron we trust each other that’s the one thing an actor and a director have to have – trust. If you lose that it’s gone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small part or a big part you lose it. I’ve known him now since 1990, so that’s twenty three years. The worst thing you can know about Ron Perlman I know it. The worst thing you can know about me Ron Perlman knows it. We basically are best friends. I would die for Ron, I would take a bullet, I’m not sure he would. Ron is an incredible actor. He was loyal enough in Cronos (1993). We ran out of money. I was very naïve, I was a Mexican gentleman, I went and said to him I give you my word we will pay you and his agent and manager said `He said what?’ He stayed without any written guarantee that he would get paid, half his salary, because we ran out of money. And he stayed and I never forgot it. For eight years, I waited for him to be Hellboy. Hellboy (2004) could have happened before X-Men (2000), before the Raimi Spider-Man (2002) with another actor, but I didn’t want to do it without Ron because I would never do that to Ron because he was born to play Hellboy. So I think that loyalty goes both ways. I do believe in any business and in life it’s much easier to be a good guy, I love the guy.”
A fan asked about what del Toro thinks about the Godzilla film set for release in 2014 by director Gareth Edwards. Monsters (2010) was Edwards’ film that took place in a quarantined zone in Mexico where two tourists travel to reach safety away from aliens. Guillermo del Toro spoke about his love for all things Godzilla: “I want to see Godzilla. I have a huge kaiju (giant monster) crush on Godzilla. In one area of my mancave I have a twenty by eight watercolor of Godzilla fighting a squid. I have like forty Godzillas. My radio controlled Godzilla just arrived last week. How could you go wrong with Godzilla? I think he is a very smart director. I think a director that has the quirkiness and smarts like that in a movie like Monsters is a guy who deserves an opportunity.”
He continued also noting his producing of first time directors: “What I was saying about Aldomovar I mean it. I have produced by now, about eight or more first time directors. I intend to continue to producing first time directors for as long as I can because what Pedro did for me with Devil’s Backbone (2001) I will never pay to the universe. I think that when we see a director with the smarts like that, coming from an independent movie into a big movie, our hopes are always that he will bring that quirkiness, like Rian Johnson with Looper (2012), like someone that can grow and be produced properly, because otherwise we will never be able to explore everything we like. In my mind, I would never make big movies in America. It was the debt I acquired in Cronos and later the kidnapping of my dad, that made me continue working to pay debts. I realized how beautiful it has happened because the sides I was able to explore in Hellboy or in Pacific Rim are as much me as the other movies. I think we need to always get better because of that. I think this Godzilla is going to kick ass. I want to see it to destroy many cities, and tanks and jet planes in a very different way. I’m very curious about his movie.”
A fan asked Guillermo del Toro about Justice League Dark which is formally called Dark Universe and he mentioned some of his memories reading comic books: “A lot of my most cherished memories when I was a kid was running to the drugstore and the newsstand and my bike to get Swamp Thing by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. I would pedal like a block, sit on the pavement and read. I sculpted him in clay, I drew him and drew him, and Demon. Jack Kirby’s Demon, Etrigan, one of my favorites from my childhood. I was in love with Jack Kirby, but I was in love with all of the monsters of DC and all of the dark stuff from DC. I was never really a superhero guy. When I heard that they wanted to do Justice League, I went and pitched it, I said look I want to do it. Constantine is one of my favorite characters when he was introduced in Swamp Thing by Alan Moore (Swamp Thing #37). That little scene blew my mind. Swamp Thing that already was perfect and languishing since Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson left, the series went really bad.”
Del Toro continued with some information about Dark Universe: “I really thought I could come in and try to do some of the hallucugenic stuff that Swamp Thing did and the Alan Moore stuff, some of the darker stuff, the edgier stuff that Constantine had in the comics. All of the real occult, very thought out stuff that Constaine had, I want to articulate that in a proper way, the real heavy mythology. If it happens like that great, if they read my draft and say f- this, then I won’t do it. I think life is too short to make movies you don’t really believe in.” Del Toro had finished with the fan’s question and then added the characters that are going to appear in Dark Universe: “We have Constantine, we have Swamp Thing, we have Etrigan, Zatanna, we have Deadman, which is vital for me, the other character I want is the Floronic Man, I’m trying very hard to have him there because I love him, and there’s a couple of characters that would be spoilers if I told you that they’re there. Deadman I love and I adore Deadman.”
Monster, a series that Guillermo del Too is developing for HBO, is based on the 18 volume manga by Naoki Urasawa (published by Viz Media in 2006). He started with mentioning another manga adaptation: “Monster is something that Don Murphy, and myself and have been pursuing for five years. I had pursued another property in Japan, Domu (published in graphic novel form by Dark Horse in 1995) by Katsushiro Otomo, I met Otomo-san I was very respectful, I pitched it, and then when the deal making happened it was so awkward because the American lawyers don’t understand respect. They don’t understand the proper distance that you have to have with a creator of that caliber and it went south. We stayed friends Otomo and I and that’s a big lesson for me because I’m a huge fan.”
He continued with details about the Monster series: “I heard it was acquired to be made into a feature I said that’s horrible, you cannot compress Monster into a feature. So I watched very vigilantly until the feature expired and we started a dialogue with Urasawa. We said we wanted to make it into a cable series, but properly, the book, not a spin-off, it’s not going to be five more seasons than it needs to, it’s going to be the book. He asked out of respect that I would show him the entire first season in writing. That’s a big commitment in writing, but I did it. I sent it to him and said this will be the first season and you can see how respectful it is. Monster is so amazing. Whatever you read of Uruzawa is amazing. He is a truly gifted writer. Monster is almost like Chekovian, it has all of these little characters that are incredibly smart and delineated, each of them has an arc, and if you follow all of them, at the end of the last book, you will be satisfied how each character ends. So it’s an amazing saga. We have the feature pilot scipt, it’s fantastic, we submitted it last week on Friday, so they’re reading (it), I don’t know what’s going to happen, if they want to do it or not, but it was done very respectfully, when I go to Japan to respect to Ursawa-san I will bow like a monk because he’s a genius.”
Another question on how del Toro chooses his projects: “People think that I have a chaise lounge where lie with someone feeding me grapes, I’m in golden underwear and I point, `That one.’ I’m a working stiff, I am hustling, bustling, pushing and trying. If they say we’ll do this movie or we’re going to do it wrong, I have to say no. I have found in my life that saying no to do a movie the wrong way, is than better than agreeing with anything. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong. If you feel you shouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, period. No matter what. You’re going to get fired, good, get fired. If you’re not going to finish, then don’t finish.”
Del Toro noted his projects that didn’t go into production and also gave a mention of his film based on H.P. Lovecrafts’s At the Mountains of Madness “John Lennon says life happens when you are busy making other plans. That’s what it has been for me. My first movie would have been Devil’s Backbone, my third movie would have been Devil’s Backbone, I co-wrote Monte Cristo, developed List of Seven, Mephisto’s Bridge. I have written or co-written twenty-two screenplays, I made eight movies. So there are fourteen screenplays and those of who who have written a screenplay know how that translates in terms of time, effort, and blood, sweat, and tears. I have fourteen full scripts that have gone nowhere. So I don’t decide. I decide when the job happens, and the money is there, if I go that way. Mountains of Madness collapsed three years ago. I had Jim Cameron producing with Don Murphy, and I. Tom Cruise starring and I thought well it’s going to happen. Doesn’t happen. It’s sad. Sometimes as a fan you watch a director and go, `Why did he do that? Why didn’t he do this other thing? I’m going to tell him.’ In reality, reality is very different.” Guillermo del Toro is incredibly open to taking questions from the fans, discussing his projects, but what also came out was his great respect for the creators of anime, comic books, and all quadrants of entertainment.