In 2004 Guillermo del Toro took one of the best superhero stories of recent years to the big screen. Hellboy fans feared their hot-tempered comic book crusader would be deflated by Hollywood. However, Del toro perfectly captured the demonic bad boy’s traits and gained audiences’ approval thanks to stellar special effects and a great sense of humor.
Now, the director returns with a sequel to Hellboy, in which the superhero not only confronts terrible monsters, but also tries to find happiness with his girlfriend Liz. Peopleenespanol.com talked to the director about his adventures in filmmaking.
Was it difficult to decide on whether or not to make Hellboy II?
When I was propositioned to make a sequel I asked for time to think about what I wanted to do with the film. Suddenly I thought of two scenes, one where the heroes of the movie drink beer and sing, and a very intimate scene between Hellboy and Liz, when he gets injured and speaks to her. Those two scenes shocked moved me, and I became enthusiastic, so I thought it was worth making the film. Then began images slowly revealed themselves to me and it took me a little over two years to write the script.
What’s different about this movie compared with the first?
It’s a larger-scale movie for one, but it’s also more intimate, and a lot funnier. I think the humor surprises people. I like the first one a lot, but I think this one is a bit more comical.
Did they give you everything you wanted when you made the film this time around?
No (he laughs). Look, the average superhero movie costs between $180 and $200 million to make. The first Hellboy was budgeted at $66 million, and the second at $85 million. They gave us about 30 percent more, but the public will decide if it looks better or the same.
What’s interesting about your movies is that there are a lot of special effects, but the story doesn’t depend on them to be good
What’s most interesting to me are the characters. Of course, I like to create monsters, but what love most is to spend time thinking about Hellboy and Liz and what makes them tick.
I have to accept that I’m very detail-oriented when it comes to special effects, because I’m a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to my work. But a lot of these special effects are made for practical purposes. The monsters are really there. I think we as people aren’t reticent to accept something that we don’t see.
It seems like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone are more personal projects than Hellboy. Do you feel that way?
No, I love this project a lot. I was so anxious to make this movie that when the studio asked us to give half of our salary as collateral for the budget, we accepted immediately.
What’s your favorite scene in the film?
That’s a difficult decision to make, because I like certain scenes for different reasons. My favorite scene is actually five scenes! (he laughs). The scene with the angel of death, the scene with Hellboy in bed talking to Liz, I love the drunk scene, and the scene with the monsters in New York. Oh, and also like the scene with the trolls.
And I could go on and on about more scenes. In truth, the films I’ve made that I like the most have been Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone and Hellboy II.
Are you going to live in New Zealand to film The Hobbit and The Hobbit II? Are you already preparing for that adventure?
I’m packing up my family and 40 kilos of tortillas to live there for four years. We’ll live in Wellington, and the hardest part will be importing good cilantro to make homemade salsa. (he laughs).