“I cannot pontificate about it, but by the time I'm done, I will have done one movie, and it's all the movies I want.
People say, you know, "I like your Spanish movies more than I like your English-language movies because they are not as personal", and I go "Fuck, you're wrong!" Hellboy is as personal to me as Pan's Labyrinth. They're tonally different, and yes, of course you can like one more than the other – the other one may seem banal or whatever it is that you don't like. But it really is part of the same movie. You make one movie.
Hitchcock did one movie, all his life.”
—Guillermo del Toro, Twitch Film, January 15, 2013
Ok, passengers! First off, if you don’t know who Guermillo Del Toro is, press pause on this show, smack yourself in the mouth and then go watch Pan’s Labrynth, Hellboy or even Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and then come back to finish. Go on… git! We’ll wait!
Del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the son of Guadalupe Gómez and Federico del Toro Torres, an automotive entrepreneur. Both of whom are of Spanish descent. He was raised in a strict Catholic household. Del Toro studied at the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Cinematográficos, at the University of Guadalajara. Having a taste for the macabre at an early age, del Toro decorated his family home with decidedly spooky elements. Del Toro loves monsters. . He claims that monsters used to crowd into his room at night, and he made a pact with them: If they let him go to the washroom, he’d be their friend for life. It worked, and del Toro says, “To this day, monsters are the thing I love most.” Del Toro liked monsters so much as a child that his Catholic grandmother, fearing for his soul, performed a real-life exorcism on him, and when that didn’t work, she actually performed a second one. Del Toro considers himself a book-person first and foremost, and there were two books that shaped his universe as a child. One was an encyclopedia of health (which led to an obsession with anatomy), and the other an encyclopedia of art.
When del Toro was about eight years old, he began experimenting with his father's Super 8 camera, making short films with Planet of the Apes toys and other objects. One short focused on a "serial killer potato" with ambitions of world domination; it murdered del Toro's mother and brothers before stepping outside and being crushed by a car. Del Toro made about 10 short films before his first feature, including one titled Matilde, but only the last two, Doña Lupe and Geometria, have been made available. He wrote four episodes and directed five episodes of the cult series La Hora Marcada, along with other Mexican filmmakers such as Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuarón.Del Toro got his first big break when he made Cronos in 1993.The movie, about the effects of a device that confers immortality, won nine Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Film—including best picture, best director, best screenplay, and best original story—and also received the International Critics’ Week grand prize at the Cannes film festival.
Del Toro studied special effects and make-up with special-effects artist Dick Smith. Dick Smith had been a huge influence on del Toro throughout his life. He bought Smith’s make-up kit when The Exorcist came out in 1973, and applied for his make-up course in New York in 1987. He spent 10 years as a special-effects make-up designer and formed his own company, Necropia. He also co-founded the Guadalajara International Film Festival. Later in his directing career, he formed his own production company, the Tequila Gang.
In 1997, at the age of 33, Guillermo was given a $30 million budget from Miramax Films to shoot another film, Mimic. After turning in a draft of his screenplay for Mimic to Miramax, the studio was not happy with how little was explained about the creatures at the centre of the story, and decided to commission a number of rewrites. One of these drafts was written by none other than Steven Soderbergh, but almost none of his work ended up in the film. Del Toro is not a fan of second unit work, and for his director’s cut of Mimic he managed to excise the majority of the second unit footage. Robert Rodriguez was one of the second unit directors on the film. Mimic was a very troubled production, and del Toro claims that his experience butting heads with studio execs at Miramax was actually more traumatic than his father’s kidnapping( which we'll discuss in a bit): “What was happening to me and the movie was far more illogical than kidnapping, which is brutal, but at least there are rules.” He was ultimately unhappy with the way Miramax had treated him during production, which led to his friend James Cameron almost coming to blows with Miramax co-founder and owner Harvey Weinstein during the 70th Academy Awards.
In 2001 Del toro made The Devil's backbone. The Devil’s Backbone, was produced by renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. Almodovar afforded del Toro a level of creative freedom that he’d never experienced up to that point, and the eternally grateful del Toro has tried to pay this gesture forward as a producer for many directors’ films. The film was an international co-production between Spain and Mexico. Del Toro wrote the first draft before writing his debut film Cronos. This "very different" version was set in the Mexican Revolution and focused not on a child's ghost but a "Christ with three arms". According to del Toro, and as drawn in his notebooks, there were many iterations of the story, some of which included antagonists who were a "doddering ... old man with a needle," a "desiccated" ghost with black eyes as a caretaker (instead of the living Jacinto who terrorizes the orphans), and "beings who are red from head to foot."
As to motivation for the villain, according to the actor who portrayed him (Eduardo Noriega), Jacinto "suffered a lot when he was a child at this orphanage. Somebody probably treated him wickedly: this is his heritage. And then there is the brutalizing effect of the War." Noriega further notes that "What Guillermo did was to write a biography of Jacinto (which went into Jacinto's parents, what they did in life, and more) and gave it to me."
DDT Studios in Barcelona created the final version of the crying ghost (victim and avenger) Santi, with his temple that resembled cracked, aged porcelain. The response was overwhelmingly positive, though it did not receive the critical success that Pan's Labyrinth would in 2006. Del Toro considers The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth to be companion pieces, and claims that they reveal “symmetries and reflections” if watched together.
His next film was on 2002, Blade 2. directed by Guillermo Del Toro and written by David S. Goyer, it is a sequel to the first film and the second part of the Blade film series, followed by Blade: Trinity. Guillermo del Toro was hired to direct Blade II by New Line production president Michael De Luca after Stephen Norrington turned down the offer to direct the sequel. Del Toro chose not to alter the script too much from the ideas created by Goyer and Snipes. "I wanted the movie to have a feeling of both a comic book and Japanese animation", said the director. "I resurrected those sources and viewed them again. I dissected most of the dailies from the first movie; I literally grabbed about four boxes of tapes and one by one saw every single tape from beginning to end until I perfectly understood where the language of the first film came from. I studied the style of the first one and I think Norrington used a tremendous narrative style. His work is very elegant". Blade II was released on March 22, 2002. This was during a period of the year (months March and April) considered to be a bad time for sequels to be released. Despite this, the film became the highest-grossing film of the Blade series, making $80 million in the United States and $150 million worldwide.
Hellboy is a 2004 supernatural superhero film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro from a story by Del Toro and Peter Briggs. It is based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola. Del Toro and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola envisioned the film as a Ray Harryhausen film. The film was shopped and rejected by various studios for years due to studios disliking the title, script, and the fact that Perlman was cast as Hellboy. Del Toro invited Harryhausen to teach the film's animators what made his effects techniques unique but he declined, feeling that modern films were too violent. While writing the script, Del Toro researched occult Nazi philosophies and used them as a reference for the film's opening scene. In an early version of the script, the gyroscope portal was described being made out of rails that formed into pentagrams, hexagrams, and inverted stars to illustrate the film's magic and occult elements. Del Toro chose to alter the origin from the comic to give main characters interconnected origins. Aside from working with Perlman before, Del Toro chose him for the title role because he felt Perlman can deliver subtlety and nuance with makeup. Del Toro assigned his real life friend, Santiago Segura, to play the train driver who assaults Hellboy. The film was shot 6 days a week for 130 days, Mondays through Saturdays without a second unit. Sundays were reserved for editing. Del Toro noted that the film could have commenced filming in 1998, however, the film had difficulty finding a committed studio due to the stigma Hollywood associated superhero and comic book films with, at the time. The action scenes were staged after Harryhausen films with little to no camera movement using wide shots. The cemetery sequence was filmed in a real cemetery in Prague.
Pan's labyrinth is a 2006 dark fantasy film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro. The film is a Spanish-Mexican co-production. Del Toro stated that he considers the story to be a parable, influenced by fairy tales, and that it addresses and continues themes related to his earlier film The Devil's Backbone, to which Pan's Labyrinth is a spiritual successor, according to del Toro in his director's DVD commentary. The idea for Pan's Labyrinth came from Guillermo del Toro's notebooks, which he says are filled with "doodles, ideas, drawings and plot bits". He had been keeping these notebooks for twenty years. At one point during production, he left the notebook in a taxi in London and was distraught, but the cabbie returned it to him two days later. Though he originally wrote a story about a pregnant woman who falls in love with a faun, Sergi López said that del Toro described the final version of the plot a year and a half before filming. Lopez said that "for two hours and a half he explained to me all the movie, but with all the details, it was incredible, and when he finished I said, 'You have a script?' He said, 'No, nothing is written'". López agreed to act in the movie and received the script one year later; he said that "it was exactly the same, it was incredible. In his little head he had all the history with a lot of little detail, a lot of characters, like now when you look at the movie, it was exactly what he had in his head".
Del Toro got the idea of the faun from childhood experiences with "lucid dreaming". He stated on The Charlie Rose Show that every midnight, he would wake up, and a faun would gradually step out from behind the grandfather's clock. Originally, the faun was supposed to be a classic half-man, half-goat faun fraught with beauty. But in the end, the faun was altered into a goat-faced creature almost completely made out of earth, moss, vines, and tree bark. Some of the works he drew on for inspiration include Lewis Carroll's Alice books, Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones, Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and The White People, Lord Dunsany's The Blessing of Pan, Algernon Blackwood's Pan's Garden and Francisco Goya's works. In 2004, del Toro said: "Pan is an original story. Some of my favourite writers (Borges, Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany) have explored the figure of the god Pan and the symbol of the labyrinth. These are things that I find very compelling and I am trying to mix them and play with them." It was also influenced by the illustrations of Arthur Rackham.There are differing ideas about the film's religious influences. Del Toro himself has said that he considers Pan's Labyrinth "a truly profane film, a layman's riff on Catholic dogma", but that his friend Alejandro González Iñárritu described it as "a truly Catholic film". Del Toro's explanation is "once a Catholic, always a Catholic," however he also admits that the Pale Man's preference for children rather than the feast in front of him is intended as a criticism of the Catholic Church. Additionally, the priest's words during the torture scene were taken as a direct quote from a priest who offered communion to political prisoners during the Spanish Civil War: "Remember my sons, you should confess what you know because God doesn't care what happens to your bodies; He already saved your souls."
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 American superhero film based on the fictional character Hellboy created by Mike Mignola. The film was written and directed by del Toro and is a sequel to the 2004 film Hellboy, which del Toro also directed. Ron Perlman reprises his starring role as the eponymous character. Hellboy II: The Golden Army was released by Universal Pictures.The director sought to create a film trilogy with the first sequel anticipated for release in 2006. Revolution Studios planned to produce the film and distribute it through a deal with Columbia Pictures, but by 2006, their distribution deal wasn't renewed and Revolution began refocusing on exploiting their film library. In August 2006, Universal Pictures acquired the project with the intent to finance and distribute the sequel, which was newly scheduled to be released in summer of 2008. Production was scheduled to begin in April 2007 in Etyek, Hungary (near Budapest) and London, England. del Toro explored several concepts for the sequel, initially planning to recreate the classic versions of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man. He and comic book creator Mike Mignola also spent a few days adapting the Almost Colossus story, featuring Roger the Homunculus. They then found it easier to create an original story based on folklore, because del Toro was planning Pan's Labyrinth, and Mignola's comics were becoming increasingly based on mythology. Later, del Toro pitched a premise to Revolution Studios that involved four Titans from the four corners of Earth—Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth—before he replaced the Titans with a Golden Army. Mignola described the theme of the sequel, "The focus is more on the folklore and fairy tale aspect of Hellboy. It's not Nazis, machines and mad scientists but the old gods and characters who have been kind of shoved out of our world."
Pacific Rim is a 2013 science-fiction monster film directed by del Toro. In February 2006, it was reported that Guillermo del Toro would direct Travis Beacham's fantasy screenplay, Killing on Carnival Row, but the project never materialized. Beacham conceived Pacific Rim the following year. While walking on the beach near Santa Monica Pier, the screenwriter imagined a giant robot and a giant monster fighting to the death. "They just sort of materialized out of the fog, these vast, godlike things." He later conceived the idea that each robot had two pilots, asking "what happens when one of those people dies?" Deciding this would be "a story about loss, moving on after loss, and dealing with survivor's guilt", Beacham commenced writing the film. On May 28, 2010, it was reported that Legendary Pictures had purchased Beacham's detailed 25-page film treatment, now titled Pacific Rim.
On July 28, 2010, it was reported that del Toro would next direct an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness for Universal Studios, with James Cameron producing. When del Toro met with Legendary Pictures to discuss the possibility of collaborating with them on a film, he was intrigued by Beacham's treatment—still a "very small pitch" at this point. Del Toro struck a deal with Legendary: while directing At the Mountains of Madness, he would produce and co-write Pacific Rim; because of the films' conflicting production schedules, he would direct Pacific Rim only if At the Mountains of Madness were cancelled. Tom Cruise was attached to star in the Lovecraft adaptation. On March 7, 2011, it was reported that Universal would not proceed with At the Mountains of Madness because del Toro was unwilling to compromise on the $150 million budget and R rating. The director later reflected, "When it happened, this has never happened to me, but I actually cried that weekend a lot. I don't want to sound like a puny soul, but I really was devastated. I was weeping for the movie." The project collapsed on a Friday, and del Toro signed to direct Pacific Rim the following Monday. Del Toro spent a year working with Beacham on the screenplay, and is credited as co-writer. He introduced ideas he had always wished to see in the genre, such as a Kaiju birth and a Kaiju attack seen from a child's perspective. The film was shot using Red Epic cameras. At first Guillermo del Toro decided not to shoot or convert the film to 3D, as the effect would not work due to the sheer size of the film's robots and monsters, explaining
I didn't want to make the movie 3D because when you have things that big ... the thing that happens naturally, you're looking at two buildings lets say at 300 feet [away], if you move there is no parallax. They're so big that, in 3D, you barely notice anything no matter how fast you move ... To force the 3D effects for robots and monsters that are supposed to be big you are making their [perspective] miniaturized, making them human scale.
It was later announced that the film would be converted to 3D, with the conversion taking 40 weeks longer than most. Del Toro said: "What can I tell you? I changed my mind. I'm not running for office. I can do a Romney."
Del Toro envisioned Pacific Rim as an earnest, colorful adventure story, with an "incredibly airy and light feel", in contrast to the "super-brooding, super-dark, cynical summer movie". The director focused on "big, beautiful, sophisticated visuals" and action that would satisfy an adult audience, but has stated his "real hope" is to introduce the Kaiju and mecha genres to a generation of children. While the film draws heavily on these genres, it avoids direct references to previous works. Del Toro intended to create something original but "madly in love" with its influences, instilled with "epic beauty" and "operatic grandeur". The film was to honor the Kaiju and mecha genres while creating an original stand-alone film, something "conscious of the heritage, but not a pastiche or an homage or a greatest hits of everything".
The director made a point of starting from scratch, without emulating or referencing any previous examples of those genres. He cautioned his designers not to turn to films like Gamera, Godzilla, or The War of the Gargantuas for inspiration, stating: "I didn't want to be postmodern, or referential, or just belong to a genre. I really wanted to create something new, something madly in love with those things. I tried to bring epic beauty to it, and drama and operatic grandeur."
Crimson Peak is a 2015 gothic romance film directed by del Toro and written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins. The story, set in Victorian era England, follows an aspiring author who travels to a remote Gothic mansion in the English hills with her new husband and his sister. There, she must decipher the mystery behind the ghostly visions that haunt her new home. Del Toro and Robbins wrote the original spec script after the release of Pan's Labyrinth in 2006. It was sold quietly to Donna Langley at Universal. Del Toro planned to direct the film, but postponed the project to make Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and then again to work on The Hobbit films. Langley suggested that del Toro produce the film for another director, but he could not find one he deemed suitable. While directing Pacific Rim, del Toro developed a good working relationship with Legendary Pictures' Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, who asked what he wanted to do next. Del Toro sent them his screenplays for a film adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, a Western adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo, and Crimson Peak. The producers deemed the last of these "the best project for us, just the right size". Universal allowed del Toro to move the project to Legendary, with the caveat that they could put up money for a stake in the film.
Del Toro called the film a "ghost story and gothic romance". He has described it as "a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story", and said that it would allow him to play with the genres' conventions while subverting their rules. He stated, "I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets. I wanted this to feel like a throwback."
Del Toro wanted the film to honor the "grand dames" of the haunted house genre, namely Robert Wise's The Haunting and Jack Clayton's The Innocents. The director intended to make a large-scale horror film in the tradition of those he grew up watching, such as The Omen, The Exorcist, and The Shining. He cited the latter as "another Mount Everest of the haunted house movie", praising the high production values and Stanley Kubrick's control over the large sets.
British playwright Lucinda Coxon was enlisted to rewrite the script with del Toro, in hopes of bringing it a "proper degree of perversity and intelligence", but she is not credited on the finished film.
The Shape of Water is a 2017 romantic fantasy drama film directed del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1962, the story follows a mute cleaner at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature. Filming took place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, between August and November 2016. The idea for The Shape of Water formed during del Toro's breakfast with Daniel Kraus in 2011, with whom he later co-wrote the novel Trollhunters. It shows similarities to the 2015 short film The Space Between Us. It was also primarily inspired by del Toro's childhood memories of seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon and wanting to see the Gill-man and Kay Lawrence (played by Julie Adams) succeed in their romance. When del Toro was in talks with Universal to direct a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon, he tried pitching a version focused more on the creature's perspective, where the Creature ended up together with the female lead, but the studio executives rejected the concept.
Del Toro set the film during the 1960s Cold War era to counteract today's heightened tensions:
"if I say once upon a time in 1962, it becomes a fairy tale for troubled times. People can lower their guard a little bit more and listen to the story and listen to the characters and talk about the issues, rather than the circumstances of the issues". In an interview with IndieWire about the film, del Toro said:
This movie is a healing movie for me. ... For nine movies I rephrased the fears of my childhood, the dreams of my childhood, and this is the first time I speak as an adult, about something that worries me as an adult. I speak about trust, otherness, sex, love, where we're going. These are not concerns that I had when I was nine or seven."
The Shape of Water grossed $63.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $131.4 million in other countries, for a total of $195.2 million. The film had received a universally favorable response from critics and audiences.
Pinocchio is an upcoming stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, based on Gris Grimly’s design from his 2002 edition of the 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was written from a screenplay by del Toro, Gris Grimly, Patrick McHale and Matthew Robbins and a story by del Toro and Robbins. The film marks the animated feature film directorial debut of Guillermo del Toro. In 2008, Guillermo del Toro announced that his next project, a darker adaptation of the Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, was in development. He has called Pinocchio his passion project, stating that: "no art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio", and "I've wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember". On February 17, 2011, it was announced that Gris Grimly and Mark Gustafson would co-direct a stop motion animated Pinocchio film written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins based by Grimly's designs, with del Toro producing along with The Jim Henson Company and Pathé. On May 17, 2012, del Toro took over for Grimly. On February 2012, Del Toro released some concept arts with the designs of Pinocchio, Geppetto, the Talking Cricket, Mangiafuoco and the Fox and the Cat. On July 30, 2012, it was announced that the film would be produced and animated by ShadowMachine.
On January 23, 2017, Patrick McHale was announced to co-write the script with del Toro. On August 31, 2017, del Toro told IndieWire and at the 74th Venice International Film Festival that the film need a budget increase of $35 million more dollars or it would be cancelled. On November 8, 2017, he reported that the project was not happening, because no studios were willing to finance it. At one point, Matthew Robbins considered making the movie as a 2D-animated film with French artist Joann Sfar to bring the costs down, but del Toro eventually decided that it had to be stop-motion, even if the higher budget made it harder get greenlighted. However, on October 22, 2018, it was announced that the film had been revived, with Netflix acquiring it.
So that's his film history as a director let's get into some other aspects of his life!!
He was married to Lorenza Newton, cousin of Mexican singer Guadalupe Pineda. They have two children. He started dating Lorenza when both were studying at the Instituto de Ciencias in Guadalajara. Del Toro and Newton separated in early 2017, and divorced in September of the same year. He maintains residences in Toronto and Los Angeles, and returns to Guadalajara every six weeks to visit his family.
He also owns two houses devoted exclusively to his collection of books, poster artwork and other belongings pertaining to his work. He explains, "As a kid, I dreamed of having a house with secret passages and a room where it rained 24 hours a day. The point of being over 40 is to fulfill the desires you've been harboring since you were 7."
In a 2007 interview, del Toro described his political position as "a little too liberal". He pointed out that the villains in most of his films, such as the industrialist in Cronos, the Nazis in Hellboy, and the Francoists in Pan's Labyrinth, are united by the common attribute of authoritarianism. "I hate structure. I'm completely anti-structural in terms of believing in institutions. I hate them. I hate any institutionalised social, religious, or economic holding."
Del Toro was raised Roman Catholic. In a 2009 interview with Charlie Rose, he described his upbringing as excessively "morbid," saying, "I mercifully lapsed as a Catholic ... but as Buñuel used to say, 'I'm an atheist, thank God.'" Though insisting that he is spiritually "not with Buñuel" and that "once a Catholic, always a Catholic, in a way." He concluded, "I believe in Man. I believe in mankind, as the worst and the best that has happened to this world." He has also responded to the observation that he views his art as his religion by saying, "It is. To me, art and storytelling serve primal, spiritual functions in my daily life. Whether I'm telling a bedtime story to my kids or trying to mount a movie or write a short story or a novel, I take it very seriously." Nevertheless, he became a "raging atheist" after seeing a pile of human fetuses while volunteering at a Mexican hospital. He has claimed to be horrified by the way the Catholic Church complied with Francoist Spain, down to having a character in his film quote what actual priests would say to Republican faction members in concentration camps. Upon discovering the religious beliefs of C.S. Lewis, Del Toro has stated that he no longer feels comfortable enjoying his work, despite having done so beforehand. He describes Lewis as "too Catholic" for him, despite the fact that Lewis was never a Catholic.
However, Del Toro isn't entirely disparaging of Catholicism, and his background continues to influence his work. While discussing The Shape of Water, Del Toro discussed the Catholic influence on the film, stating, "A very Catholic notion is the humble force, or the force of humility, that gets revealed as a god-like figure toward the end. It's also used in fairy tales. In fairy tales, in fact, there is an entire strand of tales that would be encompassed by the title 'The Magical Fish.' And [it's] not exactly a secret that a fish is a Christian symbol." In the same interview, he still maintained that he does not believe in an afterlife, stating "I don't think there is life beyond death, I don't. But I do believe that we get this clarity in the last minute of our life. The titles we achieved, the honors we managed, they all vanish. You are left alone with you and your deeds and the things you didn't do. And that moment of clarity gives you either peace or the most tremendous fear, because you finally have no cover, and you finally realize exactly who you are."
In 2010, del Toro revealed that he was a fan of video games, describing them as "the comic books of our time" and "a medium that gains no respect among the intelligentsia". He has stated that he considers Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to be masterpieces.