Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy films, signing copies of The Strain
* 6/2/09 7:00 PM at Borders Books at Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.
Del Toro was born October 9, 1964. He studied in the Instituto de Ciencias, University of Guadalajara, and was raised by his devout Roman Catholic grandmother. Del Toro first got involved with filmmaking when he was about eight years old. He executive-produced his first short film, Boner, in 1986 at the age of 21. After that he spent eight years as a special effects make-up designer, and formed his own company, Necropia. He also co-founded the Guadalajara-based Mexican Film Festival. Later on in his directing career, he formed his own production company, the Tequila Gang.
In 1998 his father was kidnapped in Mexico, which prompted del Toro to move abroad to live as an expatriate. He currently lives in Westlake Village in Los Angeles, California with his wife Lorenza and his two daughters, Mariana and Marisa.
Guillermo del Toro has directed a wide variety of films, from action hero comic book adaptations (Hellboy and Blade II) to historical fantasy and horror films, two of which are set in Spain in the context of the Spanish Civil War under the authoritarian rule of Francisco Franco. These two films, El espinazo del diablo (The Devil’s Backbone) and El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), are among his most critically acclaimed works. They share similar settings, protagonists (young children), and themes (including the relationship between fantasy/horror and the struggle to live under authoritarian or dictatorial rule) with the 1973 Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive, widely considered to be the finest Spanish film of the 1970s.
Del Toro, as interviewed on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, lists several fascinations that have become regular features in his films: “I have a sort of a fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things.” In recent interviews, he has stated that he has always been “in love with monsters. My fascination with them is almost anthropological… I study them, I dissect them in many of my movies: I want to know how they work, what the inside of them looks like, [and] what their sociology is.” He also mentions as influences Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, Jorge Luis Borges and Juan Rulfo.
He is close friends with two other prominent and critically praised Mexican filmmakers, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. The three often influence each other’s directorial decisions, and have been interviewed together by Charlie Rose. Cuarón was one of the producers of Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro turned down The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to do this film. Del Toro also received a Nebula Award for Best Script for his Pan’s Labyrinth script. He turned down a chance to direct I Am Legend, One Missed Call (2008), Halo, and even Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (the latter being a movie whose predecessor was directed by Cuaron) to work on Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Several of del Toro’s films have included Ron Perlman as the main or secondary actor. This includes Blade II and the Hellboy movies for which he had to petition for seven years to have Perlman in the role of Hellboy due to the fact that the producers originally wanted someone better known