Unfortunately I missed this awesome one-hour Visionaries panel at Comic-Con this year. The panel featured a discussion between Guillermo Del Toro and Jon Favreau. Thanks to /Film we have the entire conversation, which you can read below.
Question: How are you guys doing?
Guillermo Del Toro: Excrement!
Question: How was the flight?
Guillermo Del Toro: It was painful, but I’m here. As I said earlier having a bulging… Having anything bulging after 40 is a hint of death.
Jon Favreau: I got an email from Guillermo a few days ago saying, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it, I’m in pain.” And I said, “Oh my God,” the whole… part of the fun of being here and doing this is to be sitting next to this guy, because he has been an inspiration and a mentor and a friend and somebody to commiserate with for years, so the idea of not doing it with you…
Guillermo Del Toro: Commiserating about losing weight.
Jon Favreau: Yes. We never look thinner than next to each other.
Question: Let’s talk about that inspiration and commiseration. You are both familiar with each over and each other’s work, in fact you were telling me that when you were making ZATHURA you reached out to Guillermo for advice. Can you talk a little bit about how you met and what you sought him out for?
Jon Favreau: Well before I ever met Guillermo, I was watching his movies and we are lucky to grow up in an age when there are DVD’s and additional materials and commentaries and some filmmakers decide to keep it serious, which I respect, and other filmmakers decided to share as much as they possibly can knowing that it will enrich the experience and fortunately Guillermo was one of the directors that goes out of his way to let you behind the curtain and he is of the mindset that the more you know, the more you will enjoy always knowing there is going to be another mystery to bring up, so he’s not afraid of revealing his secrets. When I was preparing to do ZATHURA, when I was confronted with that subject matter I watched THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE over and over again and even screened it.
[People begin to cheer.]
Jon Favreau: Isn’t that a great movie, DEVIL’S BACKBONE? I screened it for my crew and eventually even hired Guillermo Navarro, his cinematographer and compadre, to film it and we watched it together and through Guillermo Navarro I heard many stories about this Guillermo and eventually we ended up hanging out together I think… Was it Frank Darabont’s house that we first met?
Guillermo Del Toro: Yeah, great dinner. There were meatballs and spaghetti…
Jon Favreau: We don’t remember who was there, but we remember the food.
Guillermo Del Toro: Not at all… Drew Struzan, you, Frank… The thing is I love friendship, I really I’m addicted to friendship, I’m in this business yes to make movies and all of that, but also to hang out with people that I fucking adore you know? There’s nothing better than eating a bad pizza with Ron Perlman of eating whatever spaghetti and meatballs with you and Frank and Bernie and hearing them talk about those things. I think that we have a craft that can be very jealous. Often directors don’t hang together, A because most of us are assholes, number one, but B because we are jealous assholes. The one thing… I don’t know how many years I’ll direct or be able to produce, but I know one thing, I’ll be a fan my whole fucking life you know and I think as a fan you want to partake and you did it professionally for many years with DINNER FOR FIVE, which I watched every fucking episode including the ones with the guests I didn’t give a fuck about, just because the repartee was fantastic. I think that’s how we started just talking and we have many things in common, you commissioned the posters from Drew [Struzan] right after…
Jon Favreau: For ZATHURA, which Sony didn’t use and then I commissioned a poster from Drew for COWBOYS AND ALIENS, which Universal didn’t use (Laughs), but we got them made up special by the way, just for Comic Con for the premiere and I’m going to be doing a signing I think tomorrow with Drew Struzan on the floor and we will be giving out a bunch of those posters that Drew created for the premiere.
Jon Favreau: And by the way, we will be giving away from premiere tickets there as well, so line up and meet Drew and we will hope to see many of you at the premiere on Saturday.
Question: Guillermo I would be curious to know what you have appreciated about Jon’s approach to genre films, especially like IRON MAN. What have you enjoyed about his…
Guillermo Del Toro: Everything. I had been a fan before; when Navarro said they were going to work with him I said, “He’s a great director. Ask him this and ask him that.” Everything is… What is great is we both come from a sort of filmingly blue-collar background; he as an actor and me as a special effects, makeup effects, optical effects, animation background which was what I did for a living for more than ten years and what you do is they say “If you want to ever command, learn to obey” and “be a troop, before you are a general, so that you don’t have the arrogance of thinking these people are minions of your disposal. You suffer the long hours. You go through the short lunches, waking up at 4AM, etc…” So we come from that sort of, not some bold blue-collar working background in the films and I admire him as an actor and you know SINGLES was…
Jon Favreau: “SWINGERS.”
Guillermo Del Toro: SWINGERS. It is my second language, but “SINGLES” was great too. You’ve got to admit that. “THE DEVIL’S…” whatever… But what is great about this is then I started seeing him in ELF when he uses stop motion animation, hardcore fucking Kyoto Brothers stop motion animation in the style of Rankin/Bass. I go “This motherfucker is intelligent. This motherfucker is smart.” It’s also because people forget the charm that comes from those resources. CGI gets a bad wrap. I think it’s a fantastical tool, but it gets a bad wrap because a lot of people use it as a lazy tool, the lazy tool of filmmaking, and what I love about Jon is that he uses old fashioned techniques with puppetry, big models, miniatures, stop motion, or whatever is needed to tell the story, so I admire that. I admire that he’s great with actors, immanently fluid storytelling and a fantastic actor.
Jon Favreau: Guillermo and I are both… One of the projects that we are developing just so happens, again our careers seem to follow strange, but similar paths is I’m developing MAGIC KINGDOM at Disney and Guillermo is developing HAUNTED HOUSE….He’s doing “HAUNTED MANSION HOUSE” and…
Guillermo Del Toro: By the way…
Jon Favreau: (Laughs) You are learning to edit yourself, so you’re really maturing a lot in your 40’s, but we are both looking at that whole resource of intellectual property and fortunately, because the people over at Disney are saying a lot of great things like “We really want to engage filmmakers like you and bring your vision to it” and we are both incredible fans of Walt Disney and his sensibility and all of the innovations that he brought about, both technically and in storytelling and…
Guillermo Del Toro: People forget how it become… He came to some of the radical animation in the 70’s, he was viewed as “The man,” but this was a guy who was highly experimental, the innovations he brought, the risks… Talk about a risk taker, this guy didn’t do anything safe.
Jon Favreau: Walt Disney was the first person to marry animation with music with a click track and STEAMBOAT WILLIE what people don’t realize is it wasn’t innovative because of the character, Mickey Mouse became famous after that, but he was the first person to make cartoons musical. He was the first person to really make television, color television wide spread. He was the first person to do fantasounds.
Guillermo Del Toro: And feature film animation.
Jon Favreau: And feature length animation, like with SNOW WHITE and if you ever read a biography of his, it’s amazing how he let everything ride all of the time and risked it all. I think we both draw a lot of inspiration from people like him and the idea of us brining our sensibility to the Disney properties will see it’s a long road, but there’s a wonderful opportunity to use all of the techniques you are talking about. Just with MAGIC KINGDOM we are talking about combining all of those things, whether it’s stop motion, whether it’s 3D, 2D, we are going to figure that out, but using different techniques to give a nostalgic feel to something that I think will satisfy families, but I think it’s through the technical innovation, the insight, the nostalgia… the inspiration that’s going to appeal to all audiences.
Guillermo Del Toro: We also spent a shit load of time at the park and called it “research” and one of the best times in my whole life is when they opened The Haunted Mansion for me at 5AM when the park was empty and I walked for three hours the entire mansion by foot. “Holy crap.” And it was “research” (Laugh Maniacally)
Guillermo Del Toro: Little did they know… You know what I did? I hid a quarter and a dime in that mansion that will never be found.
Jon Favreau: I was there. I did the tour with Tony Baxter who is a genius Imagineer who might be here tonight. I know he’s at Comic Con and comes all of the time, and just a tour of the Imaginerium was amazing just to see how they come up with it. They showed me your attraction that you have been… your addition to The Haunted Mansion. Am I allowed to talk about it?
Guillermo Del Toro: Those ghosts.
Jon Favreau: The old “Hatbox Ghost” to people who know. He’s a legendary character from the original Haunted Mansion and when I did the walking tour they showed me the plate… I’m sure you know where it was where the “Hatbox Ghost” originally was and…
Guillermo Del Toro: My van is very close by. (“Shh.”)
Jon Favreau: Can we talk about… We can’t talk about THE HAUNTED MANSION without talking about Bleak House. Do you mind if I talk about….
Guillermo Del Toro: Please do.
Jon Favreau: Bleak House is… Has anybody heard of Bleak House? I did The Hollywood Reporter this week and I was trying to get a photo spread of Bleak House, but Guillermo is very busy working on his movie, I’m sure we are going to talk about that, and… Can I talk about how there’s a book?
Guillermo Del Toro: Yeah, yeah.
Jon Favreau: There’s a book coming out, a coffee table book, of photography of this now… So let me just give you a little sense of what this is and why it is important, Guillermo bought a whole separate house for all of his shit is what it comes down to and he converted every room into a different library with a different theme and there is everything from original Bernie Rice etchings to sketches from FANTASIA to original poster art, movie memorabilia, everything form his films and it’s all like one big haunted house and it has The Haunted Mansion emblem when you go up to the door.
Guillermo Del Toro: It has a special room for The Haunted Mansion behind the bookshelf.
Jon Favreau: Behind a hidden bookshelf…
Guillermo Del Toro: And the rain room, where it rains seven days a week twenty-four hours like a Tiki room, because I’m a weird fat motherfucker.
Guillermo Del Toro: But financed.
Jon Favreau: And he brought, where was it… He brought me and Edgar Wright…
Guillermo Del Toro: Edgar Wright and I have the car outside that is from the movie THE CAR, the James Brolin movie… I replicated that car and that’s what I drive in LA now.
Jon Favreau: It’s amazing, so it’s like a… It’s scary too, because it’s all horrible disgusting realistic… It’s all that weird freak show of macabre artwork, but it makes a huge impression, so when that book comes out you should check it out.
Guillermo Del Toro: I think that both of us come from a fan point of view. When you talk to Jon and we have had dinners, like that night we had dinner with Edgar Wright and we talked for many, many hours, its talking to a fan like he knows the issues, he knows the different iterations of Iron Man amongst other things, but we can talk about art or Bernie or Moebius or any artist we want to talk about and it’s refreshing for me, because a lot of people that tackle big properties tackle them for money or career, but they don’t tackle them because they have a boner for it you know? I think you have to. You have to get a chubby to tackle that.
Question: Guillermo, the house about the Bleak House, when does that come out?
Guillermo Del Toro: The book is going to be edited by Alex Press and it’s going to be a combination of reproductions of all of my sketchbooks and Bleak House, because essentially what it is is like a peak inside the deranged brain, and I would say buy two or three…
Question: Your new film, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is also set in a scary cool house…
Guillermo Del Toro: It looks a little bit like Bleak House.
Question: And the movie DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is based on the ABC movie that had a huge impact on you as a kid, can you describe the circumstances by which you actually saw that film?
Guillermo Del Toro: Well I saw it as a kid. I literally… When I was a kid the TV stuff is probably what had the biggest impression on me like THE SHINING, ALIEN, and JAWS all freaked me out in the theater… ALIEN literally I went under the seat, literally, it’s not a figure of speech in the same way that it’s not a figure out speech when I was watching NIGHT GALLERY as a kid I saw an episode called THE DOLL and I literally… I’m not making this up, I peed.
Guillermo Del Toro: I started screaming and I lost control of my finger and my father had to tranquilize me, like pop-pop, but literally I could get that scared only once, but I think this movie was one of the scariest things I saw as a kid and my brothers and I used to chase each other saying “Sally…” and I always wanted to recreate it, but recreate it like a dark fairytale and honor the little designs. The creatures were so funkily deranged and beautiful, we wanted to honor that, so it’s very much that spirit of the classic spooky movie with moments of great intensity.
Question: I think we have a couple brief teases of the movie here, just really quick stuff. Can we roll those clips?
Guillermo Del Toro: Pump up the volume… I’ll watch my language.
[A trailer is screened.]
Jon Favreau: We saw that online and the full trailer or it was one that just started off with “Just don’t be afraid of the dark…” My kids were watching it on YouTube and hiding their heads and then when that little guy comes out at the end, that’s the payoff to I think was the first teaser, it flipped everybody out and I had to go back and freeze frame; it’s only on for a couple of frames, but I had to show them what it was, but it just shows you…
Guillermo Del Toro: And then they were screaming.
Jon Favreau: What’s cool is, and what I learned from Guillermo and also the people that came before us is one of the problems with CGI as Guillermo says “It’s lazy,” but it’s also.. Before you had CG you were forced to use other tools, because if you just showed your monster right off the bat it would look… If you saw Jaws right from the beginning of JAWS, you would not be scared of that movie. It’s the music, the cutting, the tension, the acting, the filmmaking that builds you to a point where you are so tense that by the time you see that puppet pop out of the water you just shit yourself.
Jon Favreau: I have five coming my way, I’ve been keeping track. Four now… And so what’s interesting about what Guillermo does, even if it’s not a horror movie, even in the HELLBOY films is using the same techniques that you would use before there was CG, so just because it’s easy to show it doesn’t mean you should and so if you have… You use the puppet when the puppet looks better and then you switch it up and use the computergenerated one when that looks better, but you never use either of them if you can do it through the face or the suggestion of the cinematography and I think that that’s becoming more of a lost art. If you look at ALIEN and then ALIENS, two films made pre-CG, and then you look at ALIEN 3 you will see that they thought since you could use it, you should and ALIEN 3 felt a lot less scarier than the other two which seemed to share…
Guillermo Del Toro: Great puppets though.
Jon Favreau: For 2?
Guillermo Del Toro: For 3.
Jon Favreau: Which is the one where they are swimming? Was that 3?
Guillermo Del Toro: That was ALIEN RESURRECTION.
Jon Favreau: ALIEN 4. Was that 4? I can’t keep track. The one where they are swimming wasn’t that scary I guess is what I’m trying to say, but yeah I think the puppet worked when you are using darkness to help hide it, but then when the CG takes over it feels like it’s lost something. It’s almost like when film went to sound…
Guillermo Del Toro: I thought Fincher did great in ALIEN 3, because he took the rod puppet and integrated it with the tools of compositing that were available. I think that if we had our way, I think that’s a great way to go, to use rod puppets digitally composited on backgrounds. It’s a great way to go.
Jon Favreau: So the idea of puppetry and I think Guillermo works really well with, if you look at HELLBOY it’s really fun to watch the hand offs if you are a fan of technique, because he will use… Who does your puppets?
Guillermo Del Toro: Spectral Motion in American Movies and in the Spanish movies there’s a company called DVD Effects.
Jon Favreau: And you see that they hand off one for the other, so that when you are evaluating the reality of the textures you are seeing a puppet, but then when it has to move it switches over and I had Guillermo come around to the editing room of COWBOYS AND ALIENS and when I had my puppet work cut in, I said “Okay, help me with this, because I’m used to working more in CG,” so he gave me a lot of good suggestions.
Guillermo Del Toro: It was fun.
Question: Speaking of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, the mash-up of western and science fiction, which side of that equation most interested you and you wanted to tackle in this project?
Jon Favreau: Look I think the people in this room and the people at this convention are really comfortable with high concept films and they embrace an interesting concept, because it becomes a challenge for the filmmaker to do it in a real way and a grounded way. It’s very funny, because there’s definitely a difference of culture where now with social media you can see reactions and when you see “COWBOYS AND ALIENS” there are only two things you hear, one is “That’s awesome. That’s going to be so cool” or the other one is like “I can’t believe you are doing that. This is offensive to me. I can’t believe…” They go see TRANSFORMERS and they see a trailer for COWBOYS AND ALIENS and they are like “No, cowboys and aliens they don’t fight each other. This is completely implausible; they didn’t exist at the same time. This is insulting and I can’t believe Hollywood is making a movie like this,” so no alien robots turn into trucks and that’s okay.
Jon Favreau: “I think that’s plausible,” but you get James Bond and Indiana Jones fighting aliens… we’ve crossed the line there… I feel like all high concept movies are intrinsically ridiculous, that’s the whole idea of high concept. You are taking a crazy situation and you are brining reality to it, that’s every high concept film, that’s every action film. A guy makes an iron suit… a guy injects himself with something and turns into the Hulk… trucks turn into robots… The trick with the filmmakers is you’ve got to make that an emotionally accessible experience and something that has character arc in it; you feel something, that’s the push and pull. So for me I feel it’s less offensive to just say “Hey, it’s cowboys and aliens.” Harrison Ford said to me when we were first thinking about the title, we were on the set and I said, “Some people like the title, a lot of people don’t like the title of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, should we change the name?” He looked at me and he paused and he said, “Well what the hell else are you going to call it?”
Guillermo Del Toro: “It does what it says on the box.”
Jon Favreau: That’s right, truth in advertising. So we will see what happens, but I’m very happy that… it was sort of born here. I went to a party and I met with the writers and they sent me the script. I was curious about this, I have heard about this for many years and then I showed footage for the first time last year here when we just started filming. That was fun and… We looked at the calendar, we are coming out in a week, I said “Let’s bring the entire Hollywood premiere here and let’s have the first group of people to actually see the film be the people of San Diego during Comic Con.”
Jon Favreau: And that’s when you know if you’ve got it. This may be a failed experiment or it might be something brilliant. Everybody agrees it’s either going to be terrible or it’s going to be awesome and I think they are probably right, that’s how I feel about it. So it will be great, on Saturday we are going to really know what that feels like, so those of you who can come and make it down again we are going to be giving away tickets at the signing I do with Drew [Struzan] tomorrow and they are doing giveaways I think Universal is throughout the week, so we would love to include as many of you as we can.
Question: Do you think we can give them a taste of that experiment right now maybe?
Jon Favreau: I have footage that I’ve brought and it’s several minutes, so if you promise not to put it online, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise…
Guillermo Del Toro: Raise your hands…
Jon Favreau: Well we could roll it. There are a couple of scenes and then we cut together a little more trailer style too, so it’s a mixture of stuff, but I think you will like it, COWBOYS AND ALIENS.
Jon Favreau: Thank you. Remember the scene you came in?
Guillermo Del Toro: Yeah.
Jon Favreau: I didn’t really show much…
Guillermo Del Toro: The upside down shit?
Jon Favreau: (Slight whisper) Yeah… Very exciting, I can’t believe its all going to be out there in the world soon. After two years the metaphor of a Gollum we were talking about before when we were talking, its like you create something on your own or with a group of people and then the minute you push it out into the world it takes on a life of its own and it’s a really strange exhilarating part of the experience of being a filmmaker, you see this thing that’s been living under such controlled circumstances and then you just let it go and it could be a nice Gollum or it could destroy things. It could be scary or it… It’s a very weird feeling and it’s a sad feeling in a way, because it’s not yours anymore, it becomes everybody else’s and then they decide what it’s about and it’s your job to decide, it’s not the filmmaker’s job, it’s a medium… it’s a communication tool, so what we do is then present it to you and that relationship is the thing that creates what it is. That’s the phenomenon and I had done some… Like in DINNER FOR FIVE style I had done some online interviews between myself and the actors and filmmakers called THE COWBOYS AND ALIENS INTERVIEWS and it’s on YouTube now and something Steven Spielberg said was “You don’t know what you have done until the audience tells you, unless it’s a sequel. Then you kind of know what it is, but up until then you have no idea, especially if you are trying something different.” He said, “Even with JAWS and every film since then” until he gets the feedback he doesn’t know if he’s done it. Even with the track record that guy has, just a weird little snapshot of what I’m feeling right now in this moment.
Question: We have about twenty minutes and I definitely want to get to a lot of your questions. I suspect many of them will have something to do with the 3,000 projects that you are currently attached to Guillermo.
Guillermo Del Toro: You know the funny thing is it only happens in the age of the scoop like before news reel, entertainment news even in the 80’s or 70’s, they were really well defined, now we know that deals are deals and they get announced and you work on them, but the distance between that becoming a reality or not is huge and when people hear “Oh,” it’s like a fickle mind where you go “I’m going to go here, no there!” Everyone of those projects is in a huge state of development, like PINOCCHIO is storyboarded, design, we created the puppets, we did the screenplay, we did the budget, but its very hard to raise the financing and each of those… same thing HAUNTED MANSION is on the second draft of the screenplay or the third draft and things like that, I think its only because so many get announced so quickly like premature enunciation that they conglomerate so much. A lot of them aren’t things I’ve really been up to like people say “You’re doing DR. STRANGE,” I’m like “I wish, but no…”
Question: So let’s talk about a movie you are definitely making right now which is PACIFIC RIM. What can you say about that movie?
Guillermo Del Toro: Well we are going to have the panel tomorrow where we are going to introduce the cast. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a Hollywood movie ever, it should be almost illegal. We are enjoying it so much. We are designing monsters all day long, gigantic fucking monsters all day long, and we are thinking of ways… Look, the essence of that kind of movie, I don’t want to have a panel before the panel, but there is this something to having something really really large destroying a lot of little things.
Jon Favreau: I won’t be at the panel, so I can talk to you, remember I said it was like Bleak House or his man cave is like his little lair? The coolest part about Bleak House is when you are done with the house, you go into an extended garage type area and that’s his preproduction, at the time, it was his preproduction studio for PACIFIC RIM and he has the best artists in the world sitting around in a bullpen almost like an old comic book bullpen and the artwork that is even on the desks or on the wall was mind blowing. It was mind blowing because you all know it’s no secret that Guillermo brings tremendous clever, ironic takes on the visual styles of whether it’s the tooth fairies or anything like that and these creatures that pay homage to the history of big monster movies with a twist, with Guillermo’s twist, but still that has all of the DNA of what inspired it was thrilling and to see him operate on a film of that scale is just… It’s going to be mind blowing.
Guillermo Del Toro: That’s the thing that has really… Every time that I’ve gone to tackle, and this is no different, every time I tackle a movie whatever the budget is I try to handle it the same, I try to make it look twice as much, so that’s always difficult, but this movie is all about scale. We will talk about it tomorrow, but I’m super happy right now.
Question: And where are you at with MAGIC KINGDOM… Are you both attached to that one, too?
Jon Favreau: We’ve found ourselves in that position before. It happens, but MAGIC KINGDOM is something where Michael Chabon is a great author and part of what is fun about what I do for a living is I got to call him up on the phone after reading a few of his novels and just saying “Hey, I think we are kindred spirits. I love your work. I think we are going to end up working together.” He had just done JOHN CARTER OF MARS which I had developed for a long time and you know.
Guillermo Del Toro: We both developed for a short time.
Jon Favreau: You were also involved and I think I speak for all of us, we are happy to see it getting made so well, there is no jealousy, we are just happy it’s getting to the big screen and Andrew Stanton is doing a great job, I did a cameo in it as a Thark, I’m very proud… but I said to Michael Chabon, “I really think we are going to work together” and he said, “That’s so funny, because when I read about MAGIC KINGDOM when it was announced that you were attached, I got sad because it was a project I really felt an affinity for.” I said, “Well let’s make this happen.” He is now the writer and we are working together. As soon as this movie is out we are going to start breaking that script even further.
[The moderator opens the floor up for questions.]
Question: Hi, this one is for Del Toro. Is there still any hope that you will be making or have plans to make AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS?
Guillermo Del Toro: You know I hope so. I have the mysmotonic ring always with me, my Cthulhu little metal everyday. I have the Santa Rita little metal for the lost causes in my pocket. I have been trying to do it for so many years and we were so close and the incarnation we were about to do was so great I don’t want to give up. What I do is if I can control a project, if I control a project, I never give it up. If I don’t control it, I cannot contain, but MOUNTAINS fortunately we control the property. We have a partnership with Don Murphy and Susan Montford, so we can keep trying to get it alive. I hope I make it. I think it’s one of those movies that is the Holy Grail for me, so hopefully we will get to do it.
Question: Hi, I just wanted to thank you both for making incredible and inspiring movies, my question is for Mr. Favreau. First I want to thank you for making a comic book movie that was awesome and making the IRON MAN movies. They are very inspiring and I made a T-shirt based on the artwork in IRON MAN 2, so the one question I have for you is “Do you wear an extra large or a double extra large?”
Jon Favreau: (Laughs) It honestly depends what part of production I’m in. In post production like now I’m a double XL, but when I had a fight coming up, I’m XL. (Pointing to the Tshirt0 That’s amazing, can you hold that up so everybody can see? Thank you so much, that’s great.
Guillermo Del Toro: For anyone wondering, I’m triple XL. “Pornographically fat.”
Question: Hey Guillermo, I talked to you for the DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK panel and I was wondering if I cold bring you your coffee and donuts and we could talk about monsters some more.
Guillermo Del Toro: I would love to by the way. What we do in every movie is obviously I have worked with a lot of people in my movies professionally that come from Comic Con. The last guy was a guy named Allen Williams who actually made a movie before and he was in the floor of Comic Con, he gave me his portfolio as an artist, in this movie two more guys who are working on PACIFIC RIM came from the Comic Con floor, so for example if you guys are designers and you want to show me your portfolios I will take a look. I keep them handy and when the time comes you get a weird phone call or that weird email and you go “Eh, come on…” and there’s a guy with a Mexican accent. Other than that what I try to do in every movie and it gives the studio a laugh, but I try to do it in every movie is you write me to [email protected] and you tell me “I want to visit your set” and we will have a coffee and a donut together you know? I invite people to come and visit the sets, so why the fuck not?
Question: This question is for both of you guys. You guys both kind of became household directors overnight.
Guillermo Del Toro: “Asshole directors?”
Question: Has it changed how you guys approach directing?
Jon Favreau: (To Del Toro) I would rather hear your answer and then I’ll think of something to say that’s smart.
Guillermo Del Toro: Well I think what it is is I really don’t think I’m a household name director, I think I’m an acquired tasted. I think when I come here it’s fantastic, but I don’t like that illusion. I think that I do stuff that sometimes are bigger movies and all of that, but I think it’s not a household name, it’s people that like the stuff I do are great and we absolutely have cookies and milk with 6,000 of my closest friends, but it’s not so much… I’m really a freak in every place I go. I don’t quite fit in the independent scene, I don’t quite fit in the art scene, and I don’t fit in the Hollywood scene, so I’m a weird strange fat motherfucker. I’ll tell you this, I plan to stay that way, because there is something to be said… I think when you get comfortable, you start growing old; you are doing something wrong.
Jon Favreau: I think what’s different is that Guillermo is somebody who is a director’s director and it really is a game of, unfortunately directors aren’t who decide who the best directors are, it’s designed and decided by the people who are hiring on the size of the budgets and I think with the project Guillermo is doing now, PACIFIC RIM, he has a very good arrangement and I think a very big… It’s one of the projects where they take his sensibility and share it with the audience beyond just the people who know his work from the smaller films and I think really what happens is if your movie makes money, you’re on a good list, if your movie doesn’t make money you are not on the good list and that changes all of the time. Right now after the IRON MAN movies I’m there, if this one works out I’ll be there, if not I’m in a different spot, but I don’t know if we are household names, but I know that I’ve… Guillermo is definitely the top tier of people that I look to for when I want to learn new things and now I can actually talk to the guy and we have very different techniques, he’s a guy that he’s got his sketch pads, he’s like an Alfred Hitchcock in that everything is planned and he’s got a mind for that. I’m more of a guy that… I sort of dive in there and try to be inspired and find it with a group of people. We both have different techniques, but we both enjoy each other’s work, so I think neither of us get really hung up on where we fit in, only into the work that we love. Were you at the panel last year?
Question: I’m wearing the shirt that you gave out last year.
Jon Favreau: Were you here last year?
Question: Yeah, yeah.
Guillermo Del Toro: Are you aware there’s no underwear?
Jon Favreau: I brought two tickets with me and I said the first person I saw with my shirt on who asks a question can come to the premiere, so come on up.
[Everyone Cheers. He comes up to the stage to receive the tickets. A woman steps up to the microphone.]
Question: My question is for Jon. You were speaking about the amazing Walt Disney and the risks that he took in his career, I was wondering what you consider to be the biggest risk that you have taken in your filmmaking career.
Jon Favreau: That’s a great question. I think everyday we take risks, because wherever you are you have got to… If you are in the safe zone it gets boring, it really does and I think honestly jumping into a big budget movie like IRON MAN was a big risk, especially because I had just gotten my clock cleaned on ZATHURA pretty bad you know. It’s easy to be scared, but every time I’ve taken a risk it’s paid off and maybe not in the way I thought it would, but I’ve always come out of that experience knowing more. Once you are comfortable with failure, then there’s nothing that can be done to you. I started off with very little being an actor, I learned to live with not much and as I’ve built up I’ve never gotten cautious and even this movie to hear everybody cheer it is wonderful, because this was not the safe move, but I figured I was in a position to do something different, because as the movies get bigger to be honest with you they start to be the same. A lot of the movies this summer were versions of other things you have seen before and so I took a big risk. The secret though is that when it pays off, it’s wonderful, and if you fail and you are comfortable with that, then you’ve got to just keep doing it and then you stop taking the risks. It’s like Guillermo said, “You’re old” and that’s what makes somebody old and I have met… Ray Harryhausen is a young man, because he is an innovator and that’s what we aspire to be.
[Everyone Cheers. Another person steps up to the mic.]
Question: Hi to both of you, my question is for Guillermo. I was wondering with THE HAUNTED MANSION would you be using the original back-story of the man buying a house for his wife as your story for the movie?
Guillermo Del Toro: There is really no sanctioned version. You can talk to Tommy. You can talk to the historians in that there was never… It was never quite a sacred story. There are many… It was an amalgam of several sensibilities and several stories; it was not completely congealed into one story. What we are trying to do is we are trying to make it scary, trying to make it… It definitely is not a comedy you know, we don’t have a comedian in the cast.
[Everyone Laughs and Cheers.]
Guillermo Del Toro: We are trying to make it however an intricate ride, so that it’s a fun, fun scary and that’s the reason why I was very adamant about bringing back the “Hatbox Ghost,” because it’s a legend amongst The Haunted Mansion freaks like myself you know and I own an exact replica life size of the “Hatbox Ghost.”
Jon Favreau: I have seen it.
Guillermo Del Toro: Yeah and it’s exactly replicated from the photographs.
Jon Favreau: In a room that has the wallpaper and everything from…
Guillermo Del Toro: And the gargoyles from the elevator. (Laughs) To me, if I could live anywhere, I would live in The Haunted Mansion, like all year long. It is for me the most beautiful piece of real-estate in the world and what I want to try and do is to try and make that feeling of a world that is incredibly attractive, even if it’s scary. I hope we can do it and we are working very closely with the Imagineers guys, like we are really respectful about that. I had the chance to visit all of the original artwork for The Haunted Mansion. (Laughs) I wish I had brought a rain coat with mouthing to the glare, you know I think when you see… Mark Davis had an imagination that is absolutely out of this world and we are trying to honor that step by step on the process, so God willing we will be succeeding on that.
[Everyone Cheers. The moderator explains the next question will be the last of the hour.]
Question: Jon, it’s impossible to look at Harrison Ford in your film without thinking about Lee Van Cliff in the Sergio Leone films. I just wanted to know if you used any spaghetti spices to cook COWBOYS AND ALIENS.
Jon Favreau: We used some spaghetti spices to cook it. That’s well put. We looked at the films of John Ford. The whole conceit was “Don’t make the western silly, make the situation silly. Make the characters act in a real way reacting to something weird and that’s where the fun comes in.” That’s exactly what Guillermo was talking about with HAUNTED MANSION. Comedy isn’t making jokes, comedy is finding irony in a situation and playing it to hilt until it transforms into something else and that’s where you arrive on satire as opposed to parody. What’s nice about being able to show a long clip like I did here is that you see that once that ship lands everything changes and I’ve always been of the school you make it as real as you can, change one thing, and play it real. That was the whole thing with IRON MAN, “What if one guy can invent one thing that changes your ability to make a suit of armor?” That’s all that was different in that world. The headlines are the headlines from the real world and to me that’s the fun thing to explore, because it feels real. In our case, the reality of the west is not the real west; it’s “the John Ford West” and “the Sergio Leone West” and so when Daniel Craig walks into our movie, he is a guy that is that supernatural gunfighter and that came from Leone. If you look at STAGECOACH a couple of bullets are fired in the showdown with John Wayne at the end, Leone was the one that turned them into ninjas, into Jedi, and stylized it and heightened it and so with Daniels character we gave them that metaphysical “Man with no name” quality which worked really well with a guy who has been abducted. That’s what attracted me to the script, it was “the man with no name,” because he could fight and so that clever take on the mash up of the genres is what made me say “There’s a smart movie in this dumb movie.”
[Everyone Laughs and then Cheers.]
Jon Favreau: Thank you all.