The depths of the ocean have always intrigued director Guillermo del Toro and this weekend he debuts his 20-year-in-the-making project, which features 25-story-high robots battling menacing alien monsters rising from the sea. Del Toro tells us this project encompassed every single thing on his wish list, visually, atmospherically and emotionally. The director tells us more about his latest big-screen achievement, being a Latino filmmaker, Pacific Rim 2 and his kinky, R-rated upcoming haunted-house flick, Crimson Peak.
Fandango: This time last year you said the film was going to be "a very, very beautiful poem to giant monsters." Are you satisfied with your finished poem?
Guillermo del Toro: Yes, very much so. I think the entire movie came together the way I wanted. It's the best experience I've ever had in the making of a movie because it's the first time that I feel that I was given creative control and full support. It was a huge journey. I've been working on it for about 20 years and the preparation and execution was very, very, very intense. It's the first time I've finished a movie completely elated and completely exhausted.
Fandango: The Drift—the mental process by which the two human pilots of each robot "sync up" its right and left sides—is fascinating in that now they can see into each other's minds. What sort of secrets would be revealed about you if we went into the Drift together?
Del Toro: We could have made an entire movie about the Drift. I actually think that in a world where a drift was possible, the great things would be that secrets wouldn’t matter that much anymore. I think that's good. My movies celebrate one thing above everything else and that's imperfection.
Fandango: How does being a Latino filmmaker translate or inspire your work?
Del Toro: When you see Pacific Rim you'll see the sensibility to melodrama. It's a movie that looks unlike any other monster movie you've seen from America. It has a very particular look: saturated colors, rain storms, melodrama between the characters.
I think it's very important for young filmmakers to feel that they can now go anywhere. They can make melodramas in their own country; they can go to America and explore any genre they feel they want to do. When I was growing up there weren’t many role models of what you could do as a Latin filmmaker. Now, the mold has been broken and you can be wherever you want to be and make films.
Fandango: Speaking of melodrama, there are some touching moments in this film. Any of them still get to you?
Del Toro: There are a couple of moments in the story that moved me. Mainly, the memory of Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) as a child, being rescued from a Kaiju [monster], it was incredibly moving to me. There are a couple of lines towards the end of the film that still choke me up and I've seen the movie like 25 times. The goal was to keep this movie entertaining and human. So many summer movies in the last couple of years tend to be so dystopian and dark and ultimately condemnations of humanity, which is all good but I wanted to make a movie that [was] culturally [diverse], that you can come out of the cinema with a grin and a feeling that you saw something you've never seen before.
I wanted to make it an adventure movie that is sort of retro. It is completely sincere. I ultimately think that humanity is the best and worst thing we have. I play my greatest fears and my greatest hopes on-screen.
An adventure movie always has those touching moments. I didn’t want to make it a war movie with tanks and fire powers and that sh*t. I wanted to evoke the Old West with Marshalls and rangers, riding the Jaeger. If you watch the movie there are a lot of Western moments.
Fandango: Will there be a sequel to Pacific Rim?
Del Toro: I really would love that because there were so many ideas that we left out. We were able to put some of those ideas into the comic book but we have so much more to tell. This is a very complicated first movie. We had so much plot and so many rules and we tried to make a movie where all the characters have the same weight on-screen. But a second movie would be great.
Fandango: Does it feel like you've made it?
Del Toro: I feel the opposite. I always feel like it's about to begin. I'm 48 and have written about 20 scripts but I've only eight movies so that's means that there are 13-14 movies that I wrote that still haven't been made and it's not because I don’t want to make them. It's because I can't finance them. If I had the money I would finance every movie on my own dime. I would never feel compelled to follow any other advice. I've always worked really hard to earn my money to spend it making a film.
Fandango: Very few things have been said about your next directorial project, Crimson Peak. Casting is well underway, so what juicy tidbits can you share?
Del Toro: Every movie I make introduces a side of me to the audience that they didn’t know before. People were surprised when I did The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. Crimson Peak shows a side of me that's very close to my heart, which is I'm an incredible fan of gothic romance. The film is a classic gothic romance love story, which takes place in the North of England in a town called Crimson Peak. It has some kinky scenes and I'm pretty proud to say that it's an R-rated movie. It does have some pretty violent stuff. We start shooting in January.
Fandango: You were at the Los Angeles premiere of Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited. What did you think of it?
Del Toro: Oh, I loved it. It reminded me of the Spain I knew when I went to Spain with my wife in the 1980s. It was a very wild, wild, hugely liberated country. It was such a great country at the time, no one was judgmental, everyone could be who they wanted to be, people were emotional, supercharged, and the movie represented all that. I enjoyed it a lot, the energy, the purity, the throwback elements.
Pacific Rim comes to theaters Friday, July 12.