He's the face of Mexican cinema, an Oscar-nominated director and the visionary behind films as touching and diverse as "Pan's Labyrinth,""Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy""Hellboy" and "The Devil's Backbone.""The Devil's Backbone."
But more than anything right now, Guillermo del Toro is simply the man behind "The Hobbit.""The Hobbit."
Thank goodness, then, that he's ever so ready to talk about it. With just a few weeks left before he heads to New Zealand for several years del Toro checked in with MTV News to discuss his plans for "The Hobbit" and beyond, including news on Smaug, Doug Jones as an Elvin King, Guillermo Navarro, Elrond, his re-imaginations of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Frankenstein" and more.
(For del Toro's thoughts on Bilbo, see the Movies Blog.)
MTV: Are you eating, sleeping and breathing "Hobbit" right now?
Guillermo del Toro: Yeah, we are. I have now a pile of things that I've read, and an even bigger pile of things that I haven't read. It seems endless, but I must say that some of the stuff is truly interesting.
MTV: What are some of the things — beyond the text itself — that you are talking about?
Del Toro: Well, for example, when I re-read "The Hobbit" to start writing the screenplays, I had an inkling of an idea that it was a book that reflected [J.R.R.] Tolkien's generation's experience on World War I. Peter Jackson is a huge fan of World War I books — now I am reading a lot [about] World War I, and what was the situation in England and all that. It seems like stuff that should not be relevant, but it is. You find a lot of moral issues that are relevant to the book and therefore the movies.
MTV: Do you have the picture yet of the Smaug you want to create?
Del Toro: I discussed the Smaug appearance with great detail with [Tolkien illustrators] John Howe and Alan Lee, and there's some illustrations that John did out of that meeting in London that approximate Smaug. I cannot say much more. He is becoming clearer and clearer.
MTV: Do you know which method you'll use to realize Smaug — CGI or creature effects?
Del Toro: Well, it will be CG. There are some parts of Smaug's interaction with the physical space of Lonely Mountain that may need some other techniques. But mostly it will be digital.
MTV: Howard Shore's onboard for the score. There's been talk, maybe, that one of the [directors of photography] you've worked with before — Guillermo Navarro — is onboard as well. Will you work with him on the film?
Del Toro: I would love to. That's a collaboration that is very smooth, and I felt very comfortable with. I discussed that with Peter and they're happy for him to come onboard.
MTV: Are there actors that are officially onboard? Can we say that Ian and Andy are definitely onboard?
Del Toro: That's it! I mean, that's why the offices are empty!
Del Toro: I would love to find a part for Doug. It's not necessarily the Elvin King. I think there is a part that will suit him, but it's not the Elvin King.
Del Toro: Not about this. I would love for him to have a chat with me and have a coffee. I think that if you create the situation in which the actor has felt invited, that you cannot or do not find him fit for the part, he will feel slighted. Damaging to our relationship and damaging to the project. We are really cautious about not saying any names, because until the pages tell us what to do, we shouldn't.
MTV: Although one character that clearly comes up in the Hobbit is Elrond — Hugo Weaving.
Del Toro: Oh yeah. We have to approach him — of course. Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellenIan McKellen — they all must be approached to do the movie.
MTV: It's crazy, but you seem to have the next decade of your life planned out [after "The Hobbit"]. You signed this deal with Universal —
Del Toro: Most of my movies reside now at Universal. That includes "At the Mountains of Madness," "Saturn and the End of Days," "Frankenstein." Some of those movies have been already written — or treatments exist — so it looks incredibly busy and baroque, but everything has its own place.
MTV: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?
Del Toro: Yeah, a classic, and one of them that, you know, [the earlier film], is fantastic. I'm a huge fan of it. [But] I think that there is room to tell that story from a different angle. If you tell the story fully, you cannot only see it as a story of repression, of the buildup of repression until it manifests itself like a monster. I think that Hyde — yes, he's a creature of subterranean desire and all that — but it's more. I think that in every story of addiction, people seem to [underestimate] what the addiction does to the person. And what does Hyde give Jekyll that is so powerful can be explored.
MTV: Would you want to set that in the same period as [the novel's author] Robert Louis Stevenson?
Del Toro: Oh, absolutely. My interest is to do a series of Victorian horror movies, because it's part of the heritage that was getting lost. The more the merrier. That is ripe for a new exploration of the social, psychosexual stuff that makes the horror tick in that period.
MTV: That segues nicely: What aspect of Frankenstein hasn't been told before? You've said you don't want to do a literal adaptation of the Shelley novel.
Del Toro: I would love to, but that would be a miniseries. I think that there are aspects to it which is the dialogue between the creature and the creator, for example — the creature as a lost child of paradise. That has really not been told. Design-wise, there are many ways to approach the creature, and we're doing something different. If you want to get an inkling, I would love for Bernie Wrightson to design the creature. If you know Bernie and know how he designs, that's the creature I want to do.
Check out everything we've got on "The Hobbit."
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