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Guillermo del Toro Talks 'Rise of the Guardians,' 'Pacific Rim' and Designing Monsters

Thompson on Hollywood By Jordan Riefe | Thompson on Hollywood November 20, 2012 at 4:29PM

Guillermo del Toro has an insatiable appetite for new projects, it seems. He set fanboy sites sizzling recently with the news that he's in talks to direct DC’s “Dark Universe” for Warner Bros. That would give him the chance to bring to life Deadman, Zatanna, Sargon, Etrigan the Demon and Phantom Stranger...For the moment, he's still focused on another set of characters in new animated feature “Rise of the Guardians."
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"Rise of the Guardians"
"Rise of the Guardians"

Guillermo del Toro has an insatiable appetite for new projects, it seems. He set fanboy sites sizzling recently with the news that he's in talks to direct DC’s “Dark Universe” for Warner Bros. That would give him the chance to bring to life Deadman, Zatanna, Sargon, Etrigan the Demon and Phantom Stranger...

For the moment, he's still focused on another set of characters in new animated feature “Rise of the Guardians," in which Jack Frost (Chris Pine) teams up with Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and a wordless Sand Man. Their enemy is Pitch (Jude Law), who aims to snuff out the innocent wonder of childhood.

“When we started the movie, ‘Avengers’ was not even a blip on the radar,” said executive-producer Del Toro. Best known for directing the ‘Hell Boy’ movies as well as Oscar-nominated “Pan’s Labyrinth,” Del Toro has been quietly getting to know animation by executive producing “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots." He also has a digital remake of the classic “Pinocchio” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” in the works.

Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Guillermo del Toro's 'Pacific Rim'
Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Guillermo del Toro's 'Pacific Rim'

But before that, he has the giant monster epic “Pacific Rim” hitting theaters next summer and a TV vampire saga, “The Strain” prepping for FX. Del Toro sat down to talk about finding the right look for his characters in "Rise" and clashing with Warners over whether “Pacific Rim” should be in 3-D.

Jordan Riefe: On 'Rise of the Guardians' you’re credited as executive producer, but how hands-on are you creatively?

Guillermo del Toro: My main function is creative. I was able to work on the story, the themes, the characters, the design of the characters, the storyboards, talk about animation, color, color patterns, textures, creation of the worlds, everything all the way to the finished product. We all say what we think and (director) Peter (Ramsey) takes what he wants.

JR: What were some of specific design challenges you faced?

GDT: The character that we took the most time designing was Bunny. We went with a bunny that has sort of baggy pants and little vest and he was a little prissy. And there was another one where he was wearing leather and physically was very different, he was much more close to a real bunny. Finally we decided he was dressed by his natural fur. We gave him broad shoulders and we sculpted the fur to make it ornamental.

This article is related to: Interviews, Guillermo Del Toro, Pacific Rim


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.