Monday, 7 July 2008

To Hell and Back with Guillermo del Toro July 7, 2008

Read this little artidle about Del Toro's experiences throughout his movie career:

Listening to director Guillermo del Toro always makes for a cool experience. Not only does he have a diverse background in cinema from his early days of making Super 8 movies as a kid, he has an inner vault of interesting stories hidden away about what life was life growing up in Mexico. Now about to take center stage in the film world with his second Hellboy movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Guillermo del Toro is tapping into his past and his familiarity with dark material and life events to draw fans into his own unique world as a filmmaker. While doing press this week for Hellboy II: The Golden Army before he heads to The Hobbit, del Toro talked about his dark inspirations in Mexico, seeing monsters in his dreams, having lunch at a local cemetery, his approach to making movies, and how he found his way to J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hobbit.

Guillermo del Toro on growing up as a kid in Mexico:

"Well, I was born and my family is middle class. My father is, or was, a car dealer, a car salesman. He had his own cars and sold them. My mother was married to my dad, she didn’t have a career, she was a housewife. I grew up in a city, which is the second city in Mexico. But much like in Italy there’s only Rome, in Mexico there’s only Mexico City. So I was born in Palermo, you know, another place. I was educated all of my life in Jesuit school, but a lot of my childhood I grew up living with my grandmother, who was a very strict Catholic. Black, like Sicilian, dressed in black from head to toe, tight in the hair, very dry face. And she always educated me to be afraid of sin and the flames of hell and we went to church every day and prayed to the Rosary and all of that. I grew up and, from the earliest of my childhood, I was obsessed with monsters. I saw monsters in my dreams and I saw monsters in my imagination and I really became fascinated by them.

"As I grew older, I was very thin, pale, and blond. Being that way in Mexico, where the kids are darker hair, darker skin, and tougher, I had to get into a lot of fistfights as a kid. So I became fat, I ate more, and I became fat so I could beat the other kids, and I started fighting back. And I fought back many, many years and I fought back verbally and I became the kid that told stories to the other kids. So I would tell stories and they would laugh and be entertained and I became a storyteller. I used to draw, write notes, I would read my stories to the kids. I would show them my drawings, they would be entertained, and I slowly became that for many years. As a teenager, I had I think semi-normal teenage years - drinking, getting into fights, looking for girls, you know. But at the same time during my first twenty years of life, I was exposed to death and violence. For whatever reason, I was witnessing people being murdered or people crashing into trees and burning to death. I worked as a volunteer in a mental hospital and it was next to a cemetery and next to a morgue and I became friendly with the embalmers and I would have lunch at the cemetery. It was a very quiet place. All of those years formed - I was a very curious mind and am a very curious mind. I read all of the time and I read all of the time. I read books about clock work and machines and biology and art, literature and all of that, and comic books and TV and monster movies. All of those things find their way into what I do."
Guillermo del Toro on when he first realized making movies could be a way to make a living:
"Well, I was doing Super 8 films since I was eight, but they were very bad. They were little horrible Super 8 films. Then, at the age of 15 to 16, somebody in an art gallery said - I had a video camera and they said, ‘Could you do a documentary about the gallery?’ And they paid me and it was my first money. But I was already doing films for no money."

On how he got access to all of his favorite movies in Palermo:

"I was fortunate enough that every year, every year in the summer, we would come to L.A. We would come to Disneyland and I would go to the comic book shops and the video stores and whatever, and I would go back with two suitcases full of stuff. So I became exposed to Mario Bava through that and I was also a film projectionist for about five years and some of the movies we projected were Mario Bava’s and some of his movies played on TV."

del Toro on the start of his writing career:

"I started three years of screenplay writing with a very good teacher in Mexico. His name is Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, he’s one of the greats from the '70s. He’s a fantastic filmmaker and a very good screenplay writer and I started that and with Dick Smith. After high school I didn’t go to university. I didn’t want to because the only career in university was what is called communications and you went to radio, TV, and cinema. And I said, ‘F*ck radio, f*ck TV, I just want to make movies.’ So I said I’d rather be employed. I was a boom operator, a sound assistant, a first assistant director, I was in charge of production. I worked in twenty movies before directing. The first movie was with Jaime Humberto Hermosillo. It was called The Heart of the Night (El Coraz√≥n de la noche) and I was a P.A. uncredited. I drove the actors around. I did the stunts. I did anything that was needed."

On Hellboy and whether he throws stuff at the wall while filming to see what sticks:

"No, I throw very specific shit. I throw very specific shit to a very specific point on the wall, because I do imagine the movie completely as much as possible in my head. I think that production designers and art directors with me must suffer a lot. Or, in fact, they suffer a lot because I really micro-manage in a bad way. Perhaps I micro-manage everything? It is a matter of just being on top of them all of the time. I essentially have my office next to their office and they come in every day and every day I have to go there and tell them. And I get really angry and frustrated when things aren’t done the way they should be in the art direction. I’m much easier with the creature guys, because the creature guys - I only hire the people that I fully admire and I am not a very good sculptor. I’m okay, I’m not very good and these guys are exceptional. But I think that at the end of the day, I think the production designer is the hardest. When I find people I trust, I don’t question them again. Like Guillermo Navarro, my cinematographer, I don’t ever question him and he never questions me, we are just good friends."

del Toro on meeting his wife, Lorenza:

"[laughs] I was pretty active in my teenage years. Those were the only years of my life when I had a six-pack, because I was thin and playing football and I wanted to date as many girls as I could. But then my wife was with me in high school, she was sitting next to me, and I fell completely in love with her from the first day. It’s been twenty-one years married, twenty six years together. And when I see her today, I see her absolutely beautiful. She was sitting next to me and she had not been to school for a few days on the first few days of school, so when they called her name I said, ‘She’s not here.’ And she turned to me, ‘I’m here.’ And I immediately fell in love. That night, the night I met her, that very night I dreamt of her and I dreamt of her for many weeks. I completely fell in love and I used to be an insomniac. I couldn’t sleep. And when I met my wife, I started going to sleep to keep seeing her. We started talking and she was reading some science fiction books that I’ve read, and horror books that I’ve read, and I fell in love with her. I still think she is the most beautiful soul I have ever met."

On telling his kids bedtime stories:

"I used to very much. It’s been a year and a half since I did it every night, but I used to do it every night. Now I’m too tired. But I’m going to go back to do it because they love my stories and I love telling them the stories. We used to tell stories about princes and princesses and monsters and dragons and towers, beautiful stuff, and I want to go back to it."

Guillermo del Toro on reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and The Hobbit:

"You know, curiously enough, I only read The Hobbit when I was eleven because I bought the books of The Lord of the Rings. But I could not read them when I was eleven, I found them to be too dense. But The Hobbit I could get through and I was in love with it when I read it. That was the only one I could finish, the other stuff I didn’t think about for many years. And then when Peter [Jackson] called me, I said, ‘Of course I’ll do it.’ Now I’ve read all of them and still the one I love is The Hobbit. I think the beauty of the book is that it reflects a generation of young Englishmen who went to war in WWI and they discovered brutality and death and greed, and that’s the journey Bilbo the character goes through. He lives in a perfect corner of the world and he’s called upon to an adventure and he discovers that the world is a wider, nastier, less safe place, which I think speaks volumes about that generation."


He used to make up fantasy bedtime storyies for his kids, could you guess?

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