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November 24th, 2017

Guillermo Del Toro Interview, Book of Life

“The Book of Life,” the visually stunning and colorful animated tale produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, is an exciting celebration of life inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday. The story centers on Manolo (Diego Luna), a young man torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, who embarks on an incredible adventure that takes him to three fantastical worlds. Opening October 17th, the comedy fantasy boasts an impressive voice cast that also includes Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, and Ice Cube.

At the film’s recent press day, del Toro and Gutierrez spoke about the genesis of the project, Gutierrez’s unusual pitch that convinced del Toro to produce the movie, Gutierrez’s vision using authentic folk art characters, the film’s humanistic tone, casting a talented and eclectic international group of actors to voice the larger than life characters, choosing Reel FX to tackle the complicated animation design, gaining the support of Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, how Zoe Saldana and Diego Luna learned to sing, the film’s amazing music, and del Toro’s upcoming projects including “Crimson Peak,” “The Strain,” “Pacific Rim 2,” the “Pan’s Labyrinth” Musical, and the possibility of a “Hellboy 3.”

Here’s what they had to say:

QUESTION: I just saw “The Book of Life” yesterday and I think it’s my favorite animated movie of all time. I’m not just saying that because I’m a girl and there’s so much romance, because there’s action, too.

JORGE R. GUTIERREZ: And there are strong female characters.

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Zoe Saldana is becoming a great role model.

GUTIERREZ: It’s funny. We were in Mexico and a reporter asked, “So is this a feminist movie?” I said, “Well if feminism means men and women are equal, then absolutely.” It definitely is.

Q: Did either of you ever fight over a woman?

TORO: I did. Yeah. It was actually with my best friend. He backed down. I looked very crazy.

GUTIERREZ: I feel very lucky. I met Sandra, my wife, who designed all the girls in the movie, when I was in high school and we’ve been together ever since. I’ve never had my heart broken and she’s never had her heart broken. That’s in a way what’s kept me a kid my whole life.

Q: Both of you have to be a bit of a romantic to have made this film. How did each of you get involved in the project?

GUTIERREZ: I had this movie for 14 years. Ever since I was in film school, I wanted to make it. When I got out, I pitched it to every studio and everybody told me the same thing. “You’re just some dumb kid out of school, and no one’s interested in the subject matter, and there’s no audience for Hispanic movies.” It took a long time. Eventually, I pitched the movie to Guillermo’s people four times and he said, “No.”

DEL TORO: When I heard it was on the Day of the Dead, in the last 15 years I had heard many, many Day of the Dead pitches. I didn’t like it because they were all postcard, folkloric, or coldly calculated things and none of them felt personal. Finally, Cary Granat said, “You have to meet the guy and see some of the art. If you don’t relate to that, that’s it.” So I met with Jorge – he’ll tell you the story – but I immediately connected to it because it was personal to him. For me to produce, I am so busy. I don’t have a personal life. I am a ruin. I’m dedicated to projects that support my family that goes with me. They cannot integrate themselves into that life. But I said, “Do I want to do this?” When I met Jorge, I knew there was something that we could do beautifully together, but more important than anything, I wanted to protect the movie. One of the reasons I was interested is because the things that make the movie great now are the things I knew were going to get us a lot of “no’s” from the studios. For me, lost causes are the only ones that are worth fighting for. The other stuff is not worth fighting for. So the day he came to pitch…

GUTIERREZ: The day I came to pitch I went to his house. I was meeting one of my heroes and it was a disaster. It will go down as one of the worst pitches of all time.

DEL TORO: He was sweating all the time.

GUTIERREZ: I was sweating. It was 110 degrees in L.A. We made the horrible decision to pitch outside. It was next to the pool area so I almost fell in three times. Then, when I started pitching, we had artwork and maquettes and it was so much pressure. As soon as my mouth opened, my people betrayed me at the house next door. There were like 10 lawnmower guys at the same time. So I had to yell the pitch to him. It was a mess. At the end of the pitch, I was just ready to shake his hand and get out of there and say I got to meet him. He said, “Jorge, that was a terrible pitch.” But he saw through my crappiness.

DEL TORO: I was a big fan of his from “El Tigre,” his animated cartoon. My daughters and I watched it together. What was evident was this movie was his soul. He was not doing this to make money. He was not doing this to buy a Corvette, to have a house in Malibu. He was not doing it for a career. He was doing it to breathe. It was his life that was in danger. Actually, those are the movies I try to produce – movies that mean that much to the director.

Q: The theme of the movie is Day of the Dead but there’s so much passion and charm. It’s a celebration of life and visually it’s so colorful that it’s just mind blowing. Jorge, could you talk a little bit about your vision for the film?

GUTIERREZ: Ever since I started making cartoons, they have always been a love letter to my culture and my country. I grew up not watching myself on the screen so that’s been my mission always. I have a son now so I want him to see our culture and our history up on the screen like something normal. From the beginning, I’ve always wanted to do this stuff. The mission of the movie visually was always to represent that moment when I was a kid and I would walk into a bakery shop and all the cakes were there. Or I would walk into a toy store or a candy store to have the visceral joy of, “I love all this and I want all this.” That’s where the movie comes from.

DEL TORO: We are both cake whisperers. The cakes talk to us. “Take me! Take me!”

Q: Is the wooden puppet look of the characters based on any authentic figures and materials from your culture?

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. The folk art is full of wooden marionettes and wooden characters and they’re some of my favorite ones. The rich kids had the Batman made out of plastic. The middle class kids had the bootleg Batman. Then, the really poor kids had the wooden version of Batman. I like the wooden ones a lot. They would age with me and they would get dirty. I also love Pinocchio. So I wanted to see a movie with all folk art characters. Right now, everybody loves it, but at the beginning the studios were like, “Are you crazy?”

DEL TORO: The things that made them special made them hard to do and we kept getting, “No, no, no.” But I kept telling Jorge, “Look. We’re getting ‘no’ for the right reasons, which means we are preserving what makes the movie special.” There’s something worse than not making a movie. It’s doing it for the wrong reasons. Then you end up putting three, four, five years of your life into it and you come out with a thing that you’re not proud of. We felt we did it to protect the spirit of it. We could make this concession and that concession and tweak it here and tweak it there, but not touch the heart of the movie. We got very close here and there, but with real effects, the moment we stepped into a meeting with Fox, and Jim Gianopulos is a Greek, which means Mexican in another language, it’s like we connected at a visceral level. He understood the emotion of it. He understood the fact that I think in a world — and you’ve heard me say this before about my movies — that is cynical and ironic, the new punk is emotion. To be able to embrace emotion beyond our ability, we’re talking about feminism, but also there is a huge need for men to be able to be emotional and for us not to feel bad about recognizing that we are all flawed. We get into a discourse where everybody tries to prove him or herself right and superior. I love flaws and that was what I wanted. We talked about it conceptually. The puppets are all chipped. The painting is worn. They are not perfect. Nobody in the movie is perfect, but nobody in the movie is a villain. If you see it that way, it’s such a humanistic film. Xibalba has a different agenda, but he’s an adorable rascal. Joaquin and Manolo are at odds, but they’re both loveable and so on and so forth.

Q: What was it about Reel FX that made you pick them as the studio to tackle the animation on this?

GUTIERREZ: For me, it was very important. I had gone to other studios and there were these legacies. They would tell me, “Well we did all these films and the way we do them is this way. So you’re going to have to fit into that box.” Reel FX was a new studio and they said, “We’ll take a chance on you if you take a chance on us.” So I feel like I got to go there from the ground up. Guillermo also told me, “This is a place that will support you.” And they put everything on us and they really, really supported us. Then, 20th Century Fox saw what we were doing and obviously they wanted to work with Guillermo, so Jim jumped in. This movie is a collaboration, but these studios have been so brave to take on this movie that a lot of places thought was just too different or too weird. They put their heart and soul into it, too. I could not be more thankful, and I think I speak for you, too, that we could not have done this without all the studio support.

DEL TORO: What is curious is you hear all the time, “Bring us something different. Bring us something fresh.” And it’s like you brought a dead rat. The reaction is terrifying. This was so fresh and new. The usual stuff on animated movies is they all end up looking the same. They homogenize their look and their content and some of the emotion feels prefabricated. I knew we were coming from a completely genuine place to embrace a culture. The way I see film is I think film is like going out to dinner. I feel it’s a banquet. You don’t want to have the same food you have at home. You want to go and eat a fantastic Chinese meal or Italian or Greek. We said let’s make an amazing Mexican buffet of audiovisual experience and have people go, “I’ve never tried this before. It’s really great! I didn’t know I would like it, but if I try it, I know I would.” The partnership with the studio is only when the studio stops looking back and the studio looks forward is when they become artists. The tragedy is artists are always looking ahead saying, “Let’s go there.” And most of the time, the studios are looking back saying, “But nobody has gotten there.” They’ve gotten there back there. It’s a struggle. It’s a miracle we got this movie made. It took us a lot of time and a lot of “no’s.”

Q: Jorge, you said your wife designed the female characters. Can you talk about the evolution from the initial design to the visual reality and how you put it all together?

GUTIERREZ: I was very lucky. Sandra designs all the female characters. She’s an Emmy-winning designer. I design all the male characters. And so, because I was the director, I got to tell the whole studio, “This is exactly what the characters will look like.” In the beginning, every department complained and said, “Well they’re going to be really hard to animate. They’re going to be really hard to light. They’re going to be really hard to texture and model.” And every time I said, “Trust me. Please, please, I beg you. I know it’s going to be really hard, but in the end, I think it’s going to be really unique.” Then I’d go home and cry myself to sleep going, “I hope it works. I hope it works.” Eventually, when we started seeing shots, and the characters started to emote, and the sequences started to come alive, almost the whole team said, “Okay, we get it.” It took a long time. And even with the studio, we did a ton of tests to convince them these characters could emote, because in the beginning the fear was they’re so stylized and they’re wooden and they’re so different. I was the only guy in the beginning who was going, “Yeah, it’s going to work.” But secretly, I was like, “I hope it works.” But then eventually, with time, all those tests paid off. It got to the point where we did a sequence, and we showed it, and everybody started crying. We said, “Okay, if these characters can make people laugh and they can make people cry, we can tell the whole story with them.”

DEL TORO: The whole design process was a negotiation. You needed to see how much of the depth of the eye you wanted to make. Do you want to make human looking eyes or do you want to make them feel painted with the pie-eyes of Fleischer animation painted on the eye. Or do you want depth? And to graduate all that, that look is a lot. I jokingly say, “It’s not eye candy. It’s eye protein.” But it is, because at the end of the day, the way they look is part of the story.

GUTIERREZ: For example, just to give you a nerdy detail, the male characters in the film have a pupil, but they have a triangle missing from the pupil. The female characters have a whole round pupil. And so, the idea in the film is that the male characters are missing something and they’re trying to find themselves. The female characters are complete.

DEL TORO: At the same time, it’s an homage to Popeye and Betty Boop. You have to fight. You have all those discussions and they’re creative, but you also have to prove them. Each of those is a proof concept.

Q: The music in this movie is amazing. Can you talk a little bit about how you got all those artists on board?

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. In the beginning, we were going back and forth. In the script, I had been flirting with the Orpheus myth. I remember at a meeting with Jim Gianopulos and Guillermo, we said, “Let’s just embrace Orpheus and let’s embrace the musical side of Orpheus.” So, I went back and I started working on the script. I’m not a songwriter so I just started writing in the playlist of my life – all the songs I love, and my grandparents love, and my parents love. It was Elvis (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”) and Biz Markie (“Just a Friend”). All these songs I put into the script thinking, “Well, at some point a lawyer’s going to tell me I can’t use any of this stuff.” Guillermo said, “You’re not going to get ‘Creep.’” (Radiohead’s “Creep”)

DEL TORO: “Creep” has always been the Holy Grail and it’s never been gettable. I tried it on “Hellboy.” We tried it again later. They’ve always said, “It’s too personal to us.” But they accepted on this. The beauty of this is I was working on a musical version of “Pan’s Labyrinth” with Gustavo Santaolalla and Paul Williams. I said to Jorge, “What do you think about them writing the original songs and Gustavo producing the score that is a mixture of two original songs? And the rest, let’s try to do the most bitching Mexican covers of those pieces.”

GUTIERREZ: And that’s Mexico, right? In a way, we take music, we take influences from the whole world, and we make them our own. Norteño music in Mexico comes from the Polka in Germany and so there are all these influences. Mexico is a mix of Spain and the Aztecs and the Mayans coming together so it became very organic to me. I grew up on the border in Tijuana between the U.S. and Mexico with one ear listening to U.S. music and one ear listening to Mexican music. That’s what informed me and who I am. “Creep,” for example, is a song that spoke to me, and I think it speaks to every teenager who felt they didn’t belong. And so, at the moment in the film when Manolo starts singing it, it didn’t matter what era that song came from. It’s eternal and Manolo made it his own. Each of the bands, one by one, got our movie and they gave us permission to use these songs and to make them part of “The Book of Life” world. Gustavo gave it a spin. We have a Rod Stewart song (“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”), an Elvis song (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”). I mean, it’s pretty crazy.

DEL TORO: Gustavo is such a serious composer. A lot of people in America don’t know that he was a massively successful pop song writer in Argentina. Everybody was a little afraid, “Is he the right guy?” because they know him from the very dark and romantic scores of Alejandro González Iñárritu. The first proof of concept of that was “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” with Mariachis. It was so funny. Immediately, it went in. The other thing that was organic was making his dilemma a singer that doesn’t want to kill as a bullfighter. It allows for his feelings to come through the singing and the guitar in an organic way without feeling like it was imposed in the structure of the film. And finally, becoming a man because he is capable of the most heroic thing which is to apologize, and apologize with who he is. So, it all was organic in the process. We were writing the movie, writing the songs. What was an inventory became the Ten Commandments.

Q: You have some very talented actors voicing the characters, and I was surprised to see in the credits that you got Plácido Domingo. How did you gather them?

GUTIERREZ: The cast is incredibly eclectic and it was pretty amazing. I have a co-writer but I’m also the writer. In the records, I would always tell the actors, “Let’s do it the way it was written, but now that you know what the moment’s about and the scene’s about, let’s improv.” And so, I would try stuff and they were hilarious. For example, Channing came up with Joaquin yelling “Joaquin!” all the time. It was all these things that happened organically. For example, with Plácido Domingo, I didn’t think we’d get him honestly. When we talked to him, he saw his part, and I got a phone call from him at 2:00 o’clock in the morning. It was pretty surreal. I picked up the phone and it was like the voice of God, “Hello, Jorge.” He said about his part, “I don’t want a bigger part but I want a more meaningful part.” For Plácido Domingo to say that to me, I basically stayed up all night rewriting his part. And then, in the morning, I called him and I pitched him, “Okay, you’re an ancestor who always wanted to sing opera, and you couldn’t do it because you couldn’t go against your father. And so, Manolo is going to go down and liberate you and you’re going to get to sing.” There was a 10-second silence on the phone, and I thought, “Oh no! He hates it!” And then he said, “That’s beautiful. I’ll do it.” And that was it.

DEL TORO: But what was great is when he sings “Cielito Lindo,” it’s such a release. You feel like the character comes to life so beautifully.

Q: What led you to choose Ricardo El Mandril Sanchez to voice Pablo Rodriguez and how was it working with him?

DEL TORO: I was with El Mandril and I had such a blast. He brought food to the studio. We ate like degenerates. I found so much fun and personality in his voice, and in cartoons, you want the voice to define the character as much as the look. For example, with Channing Tatum, we wanted Joaquin to be the quarterback. The quarterback is effortlessly charming and El Mandril brought so much humor to the part.

GUTIERREZ: When I met him, I fell in love with him. It was one of things where he called me and he just said, “You have to hire him. When you meet him, you’re going to fall in love with him.” And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Q: Diego Luna and the lovely Zoe Saldana sing in this movie but neither of them are singers. How did that happen?

GUTIERREZ: They both had never sung in a movie before. They’re both in the Steven Spielberg movie “The Terminal.” They have a love story in that movie, but they never talk. It’s all through Tom Hanks. So I knew they had a ton of chemistry

DEL TORO: They did the sequel to “The Terminal.”

GUTIERREZ: We didn’t know if Diego could sing in the beginning. It was one of those things where Gustavo took him in and it was like a doctor having a paternity test. We were both waiting and kind of nervous like, “Can he sing?” Then I get the phone call from Diego, and he says, “Jorge, I can sing!” and it was a big day in the production. Then, sure enough, we were going to record the last song. And then Zoe, I’m telling you no lessons, nothing, she just showed up, heard the song, and she was like, “Okay. Got it.” Gustavo and everybody were holding their breath and it just came out. I think Take One is what’s in the movie. Everybody was blown away. It was incredible.

DEL TORO: What is great about it, and we talked about it with Gustavo and he really felt that way, too, is that their voices are unadorned. They are not super-processed, multi-layered, hyper-produced. We said, “It should be like a serenade.” I serenaded my wife for many years. What you do is you stand by the balcony with the mariachi and you’re just like, “Here we go.” Diego has that purity, that simplicity, and the movie is a marriage of high technology, sophisticated storytelling with an emotional directness and cleanness and simplicity in a way that makes the fairy tale feel ancient and an oral tradition. The singing needed to feel that way. So when he sings under her balcony “I Love You Too Much,” we wanted it to be the simplest thing ever. We didn’t want the orchestra to start it. It was a guy saying, “This is how I feel.”

Q: The theme of death is handled beautifully throughout the movie and I’m curious if that’s something you got a lot of pushback on as you were trying to get the film off the ground?

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. I think anybody in the U.S. who heard “of the Dead” thought it was a zombie movie.

DEL TORO: The thing that is important to know is Day of the Dead is about life and what is death. Octavio Paz says it beautifully in his poem that he had death on his shoulder saying, “Live.” I say it jokingly, but it’s carpe diem, seize the day, with Mariachis. It’s the guys that came before us telling us, “You have to live.” It’s an emotional connection you have with people that came before you. When I was a kid, I used to go on Day of the Dead with my grandmother, and we would clean the grave of my grandfather in the morning, make it all nice, then put the bread, put the drink, talk to him. She would pray. And then we would go to the market and buy a sugar skull, a candy skull, and a couple of skulls of every kind I could. It made you connect with the stories. She would tell stories about him that she hadn’t told me before and you would spend the day talking about those that were not with you. So, the secret of talking about death is that you’re talking about life, and that was the message in the movie, which is an incredibly vital and powerful one.

Q: What led you to use a framing device and how did you come up with the museum idea?

GUTIERREZ: “The Princess Bride” is one of my all-time favorite movies. One of the lines in the movie is, “As you wish, Mrs. Sanchez.” So it was definitely a big idea about a way to bring the whole world into the story. It’s such a magical world that in the beginning there was a little bit of fear that it’s just too magical from the start. We need to ease the audience into this magic land. That’s why the kids in that group are from all over the world. The idea is we’re telling this story not just to an audience in America. We’re telling the movie to everybody in the world.

DEL TORO: Including Scandinavia. What was important was to make it about a beginning and an end of a story that feels ancient. You need a narrator. You need to root it with the Tree of Life, the Book of Life, the power of Mexico, and then… My favorite moment in the movie has always been, “What’s it with you Mexicans and death?,” which is a question an audience member could have anywhere, in China, in Italy, anywhere. But the power of it is not only that. It is to bring it full circle in the way that “The Princess Bride” comes full circle and it now is much more meaningful. When she says, “Everybody dies, but these kids will have the courage to live,” it’s beautiful and it’s the essence of the movie. We’re telling that story to those kids all over the world.

Q: Is it in your contract that Ron Perlman has to have a role in every movie you produce?

DEL TORO: It’s in his contract.

Q: How did you guys decide to put Ron in the film?

DEL TORO: I pitched it to him for Xibalba because he is… For those of us that know him, he is the ultimate rascal. He brings such suave, funny personality to a character. I said, “Jorge, try him.” Just like they say, when we were talking about casting, I was pitching Hector Elizondo, for example, and I was pitching this and that, and I said, “Jorge, try Ron. If you don’t like Ron and he doesn’t deliver the humor…” And he tried him and fell in love.

GUTIERREZ: For me, it was a little bit of pressure because Ron has done such amazing stuff with Guillermo. I was like, “This is a lot of pressure. This is like cinematic history. This is a cinematic marriage.”

DEL TORO: It’s a three-some with two fat guys. A dangerous situation.

Q: How did Ice Cube come into this?

GUTIERREZ: It was me. I’m a big hip-hop fan. As you saw in the movie, there’s a Biz Markie song. There are hip-hop beats to Ennio Morricone’s “The Bullfight.” This movie is about music so how could I not include my love of hip-hop? And so, when we started casting the gods, I said, “I want a goddess of Mexican soap opera,” which is Kate del Castillo who played La Muerte. “I want a god of cinema to play Zibalba” which is Ron Perlman. And then, “I want a god of hip-hop to play the Candle Maker.”

DEL TORO: But he doesn’t sing.

GUTIERREZ: And he doesn’t sing. The first time we met and I pitched him the movie, he gave me this look of, “Are you sure I’m the right guy for this?” I explained it to him and I said, “If you want something to feel even more Mexican, you put someone not Mexican next to them and all this contrast will bring the flavors out even more.” From the beginning, we talked about the cast. It can’t just be all Hispanic actors because we don’t want to scare everyone else into thinking this movie is just for a Hispanic audience. We want it to be for everybody. And so, for these larger than life personalities, the cast had to be from all over the world.

Q: You have so many iconic songs and singers, how did Us the Duo come to do the last track in the movie since they’re newer?

DEL TORO: We had a lot of songs offered to us for the ending, and this is not a figure of speech, it took us about three seconds of hearing the song and we all said, “This is it. This is the perfect spirit.”

GUTIERREZ: It was sent out in an email and we both replied 10 seconds apart, “That one!”

DEL TORO: “That’s it!”

GUTIERREZ: The idea is there’s music in the film from these very established bands and songs that have been around forever. Then there are original songs. For me, the Us the Duo song is the bridge between those. This is the future, and this is a husband and wife band that is so earnest. They played this song at their own wedding for the first time ever, and you can see the video on YouTube.

DEL TORO: It’s real emotion.

GUTIERREZ: It could not be more earnest.

Q: And then you’ve got Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait.” I loved that one.

GUTIERREZ: Imagine telling a band from England, “We want to do a Ranchera version of your Grammy-winning song.”

Q: Where did all the little touches come from where you poke fun at yourselves, like talking about churros?

DEL TORO: Churros is Jorge.

GUTIERREZ: Just so you know, I am obsessed with churros. It’s in all my work. I feel guilty to admit this, but my favorite churros are at Disneyland.

Q: Will there be T-shirts and merchandise for “The Book of Life”?

DEL TORO: Oh yes, they’ll be at Hot Topic.

Q: Guillermo, how is “Crimson Peak” looking?

DEL TORO: It’s looking good. We had a screening with 20 percent of the effects and temp music and all that. It went great. Now I’ve changed it a lot and we’re going to have another one. It’s going great.

Q: As soon as that’s released, will you go straight into “Pacific Rim 2”?

DEL TORO: No. Actually we start with “The Strain” in November and I’m going to be shooting the creature action unit. I’m going to be shooting the Mexican luchador, the black and white footage that appears in the movie, in the series. Then I shoot a little movie in April, a small one. Then I start prepping “Pac Rim” immediately in May and we start production at the end of November or the beginning of December.

Q: Where are things with the “Pan’s Labyrinth” Musical?

DEL TORO: We are about to hopefully get very good news. We have a British producer that is financing it. But knock on wood, we are about to be able to get really good news on it in the next couple weeks.

Q: What’s been the creative thrill about putting music to that story?

DEL TORO: What is great is that Gustavo Santaolalla and Paul Williams already wrote a few songs. I’m listening to them. It’s great because they are verbalizing the themes of the movie in a beautiful way. For me, it always was a movie that was very inspired by theatricality – the sets, the costumes, everything. What we are planning for it, I hope people will be very interested in because that piece of news is about to come.

Q: Is it English language?

DEL TORO: It is English language, but we are already thinking about the translation of the lyrics. Gustavo and I talked about maybe writing half of the songs in English and half of the songs in Spanish and translating them so that we don’t feel that everything was done in one language.

Q: With British financing, does that mean you’re going to do it in the West End?

DEL TORO: We are talking about it. If the partnership we are seeking and I’m about to announce happens, it may be a different country.

Q: Can you tell me how you got connected with Paul Williams and the creative collaboration that you’ve had?

DEL TORO: Well I started because I’m a fan of “Phantom of the Paradise” and I’m a breathing advocate of that movie and he knew that. Edgar Wright is another crazy guy for “Phantom of the Paradise” and he said one day, “I have Paul William’s number.” I said, “Give it to me, man!” When I was a kid, I drove seven hours to go to the only concert Paul Williams gave in Mexico. I was wearing my father’s suit. With my best friend, we drove from Guadalajara to Mexico City to listen to him. We met him after. He says he remembers. But I’m a huge fan of his. All his songs are great. “Phantom” is great and “The Rainbow Connection” is so powerful. And Gustavo is great as proven by “The Book of Life.”

Q: What’s the small movie you want to do before “Pacific Rim 2”?

DEL TORO: It’s the only thing I’ve been able to keep secret and I’m going to keep it secret until I make it or not.

Q: How’s it working with Charlie Hunnam again? You’ve made two movies with him pretty much back to back?

DEL TORO: Charlie, for me, I can work with him the way I work with Ron (Perlman) every time. He’s part of the family. It’s really a great, effortless collaboration. I love him. The cast experience in “Rim” has been unique in my career. Honestly, I think that other than “Pan’s Labyrinth,” I haven’t enjoyed the entire cast as much as I did on “Rim.” Those are the two movies where everybody delivers.

Q: Why is it important to make small movies when you can be making big blockbusters?

DEL TORO: I think that the reasons I make the movies remain the same as when I did “Cronos.” I mean, I dress like shit. I don’t drive a Porsche. I have the replica of “The Car” made from the James Brolin movie. I live in the Valley. I don’t want to move over to Beverly Hills. My goal is to make the movies I want to make and support the people I want to support. That’s it. I manage to have as many rubber monsters as I need. That’s enough for me. I think making small movies reminds you of the effort. When you make big movies, the effort is to fight for freedom. When you make small movies, the effort is making the day, making the budget, and it’s great, too. I think when you get all the money and all the freedom, rarely do you get a good movie out of it or a movie that you’re proud of.

Q: How about “Hellboy 3”? Are the chances better now?

DEL TORO: I asked the question at Comic Con to Legendary (Pictures) and it’s the answer we should all await. I think unfortunately that’s now a movie that’s so big compared to the other two. And the other two, you have DVD and Blu-ray and all that to make for it. The first two movies were very successful in home video and that allowed for them to recuperate. A third movie in that market is basically gone. So, the studios are conservative about it.

Q: Make it anyway!

DEL TORO: (Laughs)




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