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INT: Guillermo del Toro

Interview #1: Ron Perlman
Interview #2: Mike Mignola
Interview #3: Selma Blair
Interview #4: Guillermo del Toro

HELLBOY director Guillermo del Toro is the Mexican Peter Jackson.  The physical resemblance is uncanny – both possess the same trademark features: the glasses, the longish, disheveled hair, the “plus-size” body. The similarities go beyond the superficial, however. With HELLBOY, del Toro approached the source material with the same reverence and enthusiasm as Jackson did with Tolkien’s books.

An ardent fan of the popular Dark Horse comic, Guillermo labored tirelessly to ensure that the big screen adaptation met the expectations of even the most hardcore fans. And the hardcore fans have reason to be excited: those who have seen his previous works, such as CRONOS or BLADE 2, know that he’s legit. Plus, you gotta love any guy that would insist on casting Ron Perlman in the lead role. If this film was made by anyone else, chances are we’d be seeing someone like Ben Affleck wearing the red makeup and bodysuit. Here’s what Guillermo had to say about Hellboy!

GUILLERMO DEL TORO

Why were you such a huge fan of the Hellboy comic?

From the very beginning, I was big into not only the art, but the fact that this guy was such a fallible superhero, almost too human, as a character. I thought that normally, especially in Hollywood, superheroes have to be...there’s sort of an unspoken rule where they say, you don’t want to see your hero vanquished, you don’t want to see your hero fail. The great thing about Hellboy, to me, is that, number one, he’s incredibly fallible, he’s incredibly human. Before he takes responsibility for himself, people even die under his command. He uses his powers like I would, for very petty things – stealing a beer, throwing a rock at the guy that is trying to steal his girlfriend, things like that. And that humanity is what attracted me to it.

Do you see parallels between you and Hellboy?

A hundred percent. For example, I think that we both have a dark side. I have a dark side to my imagination that could have easily gone to plan bank robberies. (laughs) I think that the great thing about telling a fairy tale like the one in the movie is saying that it’s not about what the regular world tells you to do, which is to suppress everything look good and think nice things. To say, “I am what I am and I have a dark side, but I still can choose.”

The romance between Liz and Hellboy is pretty much taken – in some cases verbatim – from by courting my wife of 20 years.

Really?

Yeah. We were in high school and when I was courting her, at one point she said, “You should dress better. You should use better clothes.” And I said, “Listen, some guys look really sharp when they’re courting, and then they marry and put on sweatpants and sandals.” And I said, “I can promise you two things.” And the scene is in the movie. I said, “I will always look this good.” To me also, when the movie started taking shape six years ago and I started writing it, I was coming out of my father being kidnapped in Mexico in 1997, and I was incredibly invested in the little fable of what it is to be a father and what it is to be a son. And the movie is full of those type of personal aspect.

Let’s talk about tentacles.

Yes.

The monster at the end has the most tentacles I’ve ever seen.  It must be a record, at least for film.

I would say that certainly on film, not in anime. There is an aspect that I like and enjoy about the work of Mike Mignola, where his version of hell is a cosmic one, which he shares with H.P. Lovecraft. There’s a line in Hellboy when a character says, “Do you really, really believe in hell?” And the guy says, “There is a dark place, where evil slumbers and awaits a return.” And that is basically the premise of the entire Lovecraft mythology, that there are entities out there that want to return. I think that what it is is that part of me wanted to make sort of a Ray Harryhausen movie for the new generation, creating monsters and creating entities that as a kid you want to see things fly that you have never seen. I remember as a kid seeing the Sinbad or the Jason and just flipping at the creatures. 

You recently met Ray Harryhausen –

Yes. We met about two years ago, and actually one of my first things was I said to him, “Look, we’re doing this movie Hellboy, and I would love to bring you in as an advisor on this style of movement.” Because there is a lot of Harryhausen in the movie. For example, Sammael does the Mighty Joe Young move, the slamming the floor when he’s angry. When we directing the Sammael’s movement, we were saying, “Do the tentacles like a Harryhausen thing, where they’re almost choreographic.”

Was there ever any discussion at the beginning of this process about making this an R-rated film?

Not at all. Never. To me, the beauty of this movie, I think this is a movie for young people. I think this is a movie that has all the edge and the images that are edgy and all that, but the heart of the movie is extremely gentle. You have a message that is anti-programming, almost, where they’re telling you to be yourself. It’s a beauty and the beast story where, number one, the beauty kisses the beast at the end, but instead of the beast turning into a prince, she turns into a beast. The final shot, for me, is beautiful, because it works at the level where you’re telling people it’s ok to be a monster. Just accept it and make it part of yourself.

To me, the theme of the movie is, what makes you a human is not anything to do with your birth, the place of your birth or what you’re supposed to do, but what you choose to do.

There’s also the Catholic aspect.

Impossible to avoid. I think that what it is, it’s not a movie that is about dogma. It’s not about institutional Catholicism, it’s about, ultimately, at the core of everything is: act accordingly, try to do good and act accordingly to what your instincts tell you is right. I think that it is not a proselytizing movie.

How difficult was it to adapt this from the comic book series?

There’s a lot of threads in the comic that actually don’t tie up until like six series down the road, and some of them never tie up. I wanted to make a self-contained movie. I think it’s too cocky to assume that there will be a second one. It would be hopeful to assume that, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. So what I wanted was to make almost a fairy tale, a fable, self-contained.

If given the opportunity, what would you do for the sequel?

I would make it...in terms of the approach to the material, I think that this movie has the first twenty minutes of it are pure Mignola, then we have a detour of about 30 minutes where we go into an urban environment that the comics never go to. And the ending of the movie, where everything is almost surreally Gothic, the underground of Moscow and all that, goes back to pure Mignola. The second movie, the only thing I would do is start and...it all being that surreal. I think that it’s...I hope that...the storyline I would like to develop is the fact that – why Myers was chosen. And we’ll find out in the second one – why was he the only guy that could be recruited? And some of the love story is resolved and dealing with different aspects of what it is to be this character. One of the possibilities would be Hellboy being “outed” in the second one, he would go public. And dealing with the reaction of the world.

Why did you choose Ron Perlman?

I don’t think there was another choice, really. I think whether you “get” the movie and it’s for you or not, I think that to me there is no possible argument about him. 

If you couldn’t get Ron, did you ever consider a CG character?

What was happening was that when we were starting, I said let’s...if Ron proves impossible, what we should try to do is try to make Hellboy eight feet tall, a really large creature, a mixture of a puppet and CG. And then I was talking to Jim Cameron and he said, “You would lose one thing.” And I said, “What?” And he said, “The love story.” And I realized absolutely 100%. That plan lasted probably 23 hours. (laughs)

What did you think of The Hulk?

I think that they pushed that as far as technological and humanly possible. I think that the premise of the movie is a really interesting one. It’s probably not the fan’s Hulk, but it’s a very interesting and very personal take on the character.

How do you think the hardcore fans of the comic will react to the film?

I think that if someone goes into the movie with a checklist, they should save their money.

How closely did you work with Mignola?

Very very close. He was there from the start, just to keep his blessing on everything. I mean, we argued – we argued a lot – and I said to him, “You’re duty is not to agree. You convince me or I convince you.” And we won both ways.

Do you still intend to make At the Mountains of Madness?

Yeah, but that is totally depending on studio financing, so what I’m thinking is really, if I’m lucky enough that the studio gets Mountains, then by all means I’ll do Mountains. But it happens to be in the 1920’s, period, with crazy-ass tentacled monsters that come from another dimension. There’s a moment when basically a character says...a character is praying and the teacher says, “You’re God is as young as yesterday. My master was here way before.” And you know, ultimately all horror movies with monsters turn into aliens, and this one doesn’t. This one stays totally real and existential, all the way to the end. We’ll see what happens.

What is the movie that you’re going to do in Spain?

The movie that I’ll do in Spain is a bookend to DEVILS' BACKBONE. It’s called PAN'S LABYRINTH, and what it is...to me it’s a little story about fascism, and the idea taking over the entire country. And in Pan’s Labyrinth, to me, fascism has won.

You don’t seem to be a big fan of one of your previous films, MIMIC.

I like parts of it. The funny thing is, the parts that most people don’t like about the movie are things that were either shot by second unit or that I hated. And people go, “That’s a cheap scare.” I agree, and I didn’t shoot that scare. Because I hate cheap scares. I think that what aches for me with the movie is not what it is – I’m perfectly happy with a big B movie about giant insects – but what it could have a been, what I wanted it to be.

I wanted it to be about evolution being basically God saying, “Your turn is over, buddy. Now these guys are my favored creatures.” There was no DNA involved in the ultimate vision of my movie. Mira Sorvino, instead of saying, “We altered their DNA,” she used to say, “Why do you ask me? I mean, I’m an anthropologist. The last bug I saw was this big. There’s no explanation for this.” And then the character, he says, “This is God’s way of telling us, we’re done.”

Source: JoBlo.com

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