Guillermo del Toro Q&A

The Pan's Labyrinth helmer tells Total Film why he's the "Forrest Gump of filmmaking"

Congrats on Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s a good time for you at the moment…
It already made good money back in Spain. But I don’t see the money, because I put my salary back into the film. I have no hopes of ever seeing that money. But you do that movie to be happy not to be rich.

Do you have a favourite scene?
My favourite part of Pan’s is the Pale Man banquet. Because it’s all cinema. I think some of the best filmmaking ever was in silent film. The ideal movie for me is a movie with no dialogue. If I could do a movie with no dialogue at all, that would be my ideal.

You told us in Cannes that you hated shooting Pan’s dialogue scenes…
I hate dialogue. I hate shooting it! Oh fuck, I hate all that shit! I think there’s part of me that believes that film needs the absence of a narrative sometimes to work. The narrative of film is different to that of novels or theatre, but we inherit some of those forms. There are passages of pure beauty in things like Un Chein Andalou, which is visual storytelling but it doesn’t need an explanation.

Did you learn a lot making the film?
Oh, every day. I tell you, you’re learning on the set, on your feet. I think ideally you should be able to shoot half a movie, stop for a month, and then come back and finish it. I remember Kubrick was doing one of his films with Kirk Douglas and Douglas injured himself and they had to stop production for a couple of weeks. Kubrick called Douglas and said, ‘Take another week!’ Because he was so happy that he now had time to see the movie; assemble it; see where he was going wrong… It’s such a brutal process.

Are there any films and filmmakers that continue to inspire you?
I consider myself the Forrest Gump of filmmakers. Because I’m like a blessed idiot! Because I have travelled the world and met all my heroes: Carpenter, Romero, Landis, Cronenberg, Gilliam, friends with all of them. But I owe my life to Stephen King.

Really?
Oh yes. And let me tell you what I did. I hand-carried the print on a plane – it weighed a ton – to King in New England. We put it on and I watched the movie with him. The biggest joy in my entire career, in my life, is watch Stephen King during the Pale Man sequence. He was squirming! He was like, “Oh! Jesus! Oh!” Then we went and had Indian food. $36.45. He paid. I’m a cheap date!

What’s happening with Hellboy 2?
That’s another case of a movie being just a passion project. We’d love to do three Hellboy films. Each one more and more creatively deranged! We have deal with Universal - the script was ready a year and a half ago. We shoot in May.

Will Hollywood give you a massive budget for this one?
It never happens. You see, for example, David Lynch – who you and I consider a maverick and wild spirit. This is a guy who still has to put up with the nonsense of financing his own films. People telling him what he can or can’t do at this stage in his career. Ours is a business and an art. And that definition tells you how fucked up it is.

Do you ever take a break from work?
For me, work is daily life. Daily life is work. Movies are fun! The guy that puts it the best is Rodriguez. When people say, ‘When are you taking a break?’ He says, ‘I’m taking a break! This is what I do for living. Literally, for a living.’

Any plans for Christmas?
I’m going back to see my family. Back to the womb!...