Guillermo Del Toro 2In its request for an interview with Guillermo del Toro about “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army,” TORn promised there would be no questions about “The Hobbit.” After all, the man who was working on three hours of sleep, is on a media blitz for his second film about a red skinned demon-spawn-do-gooder that files his horns down to “help him fit in” with Jane and Joe Average.

But, the Mexican-born director, after a friendly round or two of phone tag, brought it up in his interview with; but more on that later, we’re here to talk Hellboy.

He makes no bones about it; he thinks its best to see the first Hellboy film to more fully enjoy the second one. The original screen adaptation of the Mike Mignola-created, small-press comic book broke even in its North American theatrical run and made some money with its DVD sales and international box office.

“Obviously you are much better prepared if you know more about Hellboy. Ideally, if you see the first movie you will have many surprises (watching the sequel) but you will not step in out of the blue.”

So what can viewers expect?

“This movie is made with the pop, wide-eyed gaze that you have at age 12 and you watch a monster movie. Any monster movie you would care to name, a Harryhausen movie (Ray Harryhausen and innovative stop-motion effects movies like “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” and “Jason and the Argonauts,”) or any kind of effects movie, it wants to capture creature magic and movie magic.”

But just monsters? No no no.

“It also captures against-the-grain movement. It has these massive set pieces with really, intimate, almost domestic moments and interactions between the cast. It is a big spectacle with minute character interaction.”

(Staying true to our word, TORn didn’t bring up in the interview that the above description is a pretty good recipe for a movie about a really mean dragon and Hobbits, Dwarves, were bears and five armies, but the description hung in the air, taunting us.)

Del Toro pointed out that while Hellboy comes from the comics, this movie is a director’s and writer’s vision, not a note-by-note translation from page to screen. The characters in the film interact on a level they don’t in the comic which is more mood-driven.

“The comics are fabulous, but the character interaction is kept to a minimum. It has a very efficient style but they don’t have as intricate a relationship; for a two hour movie you need to create threads of that.”

So how does the director of the 2006 Spanish-language film “El Laberinto del fauno,” (aka “Pan’s Labyrinth”) that had critics falling all over themselves to dish praise and earned the veteran director the most buzz and best acclaim of his career, go from that Oscar-winning film to a summer comic book blockbuster?

“There are a lot of people that first became aware of me with Blade 2; Therefore for many people I was just a perfectly interchangeable action director who created a revolting race of vampires. They completely ignored or were unaware that it was my fourth movie. Many people became aware of me as “The Blade 2 director.”
“It is difficult – but the fact is, a director is a creator of words and raider of stories and you have to design and create to serve a movie. You don’t want to force things and say, ‘I only do this kind of film,’ and I don’t want that forced upon me. You want to explore.

“I try not to be slavish to industrial Hollywood productions or only the small independents. I try to go back and forth.”

The director has explained on TORn’s own message boards (where he posts occasionally as “Guillermo”) that what viewers see him do in the Hellboy universe is not what they will see in “The Hobbit” and its sequel.

For now, he is granting interviews, returning phone calls, attending pressers for television, radio, print and the World Wide Web. He confesses that the blitz isn’t always easy but isn’t the hardest part of making a film either.

“I can get through it, and actually there is a part of it I really look forward to. I like interacting with people and those people and the movie, but there is a part of it too – it becomes a trial. It is fine, part of the job.”

The schedule has him sleeping immediately after the TORn interview and then more and more press for the rest of the week, up to the release of the film Friday at a theater (probably several) near you. It hits in 2,900 cinemas and faces competition from the Will Smith superhero flick “Hancock,” and lingering comic films like “Iron Man,” “The Hulk,” and the action-oriented Indiana Jones flick.

Even then it doesn’t end. The hardy director will still have a few “very very small trips” in places like France and Germany on consecutive days and visits to other non-North America markets.

And then it is finally time for earnest work on that little New Zealand two-movie package he is throwing together with Peter Jackson’s team called “The Hobbit” and “No Title Yet.”

Hey, he brought it up, he was only asked when he would tackle his “next project.”

“We are meant to re-engage in pre-production and work on the screenplay of “The Hobbit,” in a couple of weeks, (With Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens).

He also mentioned that contract work is still in process.

“We are ironing out some parts of the deal and the legal stuff; there is still some of that that is being wrangled. It is quite amazing. I have never seen something so elaborate legally. We get to iron out a lot of stuff. But I am anxious to start on it, I really am.”

He reiterated a previous message to readers of

“As I said on the boards, there is no more news.”

The next stage, the stage that will eventually make fantastic extras on DVDs, will be that of unleashing his artistic and imaginative side, along with a few collaborators.

“I am really excited to start drawing and start the work with the conceptual artists. I have a list of dream-team conceptual guys and we will see who we can get. We will start conceptualizing very soon. We will get with Alan Lee and John Howe, have all the calendars match; it will be a house full of genius minds. It is so entertaining, that part of the process. It is so beautiful. We worry not about time-tables and budgets and we get together and just dream.”

While Howe, Lee and del Toro (and probably others) are dreaming, fans surely will be dreaming about what is being cooked up

So del Toro’s concept team will be fully mobilized in Los Angeles while the Jackson 5 (Jackson, del Toro, Boyens, Walsh and Weta master Richard Taylor) will be forging a script and a road map for the films’ visuals.

According to the director, that means that the director will be sitting on a lot of flights from Los Angeles to Auckland and then changing planes to Wellington to meet with Weta and Camp Jackson and then returning to California the same way.

In a lot of ways, the journey to the Lonely Mountain is about to begin. Coming this week: TORn gives you a sneak peek of “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.