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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Continuum continues its series of interviews from the Hellboy II: The Golden Army press junket with writer/director Guillermo del Toro.

Following is an edited transcription from the roundtable interview.

Question: I read somewhere where you said is the Hellboy you really wanted to make from the outset.

Del Toro: I think it is, but it was not planned that way. The first movie I fully thought we were doing the exact version that would honor the comic and that would be faithful to the comic, but as time passed I realized mistakes were made or shortcomings were evident because of ... I was prudish, I think, on the first one a little bit and I was completely unbridled on this one. I really think it made a difference because on the first one I was there to try and satisfy a specific aesthetic that I admire, which was Mike's (Mignola), a specific character I admired, which was Mike's, and I made it my own only to a certain point. It was not conscious, it was not a process, it just happened and I learned and I was desperate to make the second one to improve, expand, go a little wider.

Question: To find a balance between Mike's and your own?

Del Toro: Yes, I believe so. I think that it is Mike's creation. It will always be Mike's creation, but I really allowed myself to disagree with more people on this one, sometimes including Mike. I feel it was a riskier proposition, but I feel if you were going to do the second one and be equally timid you were going to come out with the exact timid approach.

Question: Mike said he disagreed with your original intention to include Lobster Johnson.

Del Toro: That was fine because, as a director and writer, I'm exactly the same in that I'm very quick on my feet. So when Mike said no to Lobster Johnson, I said, "Then let me have Johann." I thought that the perfrect guy for that job was Johann, who has no face. He's nobody. He comes to represent order and by-the-book rules, and there's nobody there. I like that very much. Johann can be voice, an idea and a personality, even more than a character that is already outlandish. So I was happy to do the trade.

Question: Are you a Jim Henson fan, because you used a lot of practical creatues.

Del Toro: Yes, I am a huge Jim Henson fan and actually Solution Studios who participated in many of the creatures, many of them used to be on the Henson shop. That's why we went with them, they created some of the stuff I liked the most in Story Teller or they worked in Little Shop of Horrors and Return to Oz and so on and so forth.

One idea I had in the movie is that first and foremost we wanted to make the movie feel handmade. We wanted the movie to have an artisan pride in craftsmanship, pride in the sets and the creatures. When we designed the Golden Army I told them, "Make sure the gold is hammered, not flat. It is hammered and a little rust or oil stains. Let's make everything lived in." Because I wanted everything to be texturally palpable. So one of the approaches, which was in the first movie also, was let's make the creatures as practical as we can.

Question: There is a nod to Star Wars and the Cantina scene in this. I don't know if it was conscious or not.

Del Toro: Well, actually that was Mike's fear more than anything. Every time we came to the Troll market Mike was (Stars Wars tune). I said "No" and we shot it completely different from that. Because instead of doing a close up of creatures that we had, I treated them like extras in the background. Sometimes we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a creature that happens only in the first shot. If you look at the movie ever again, you'll see a creature called the Strider, which are three large elephant-like creatures with long legs like the elephants from the knee and no head walking past the archway -- only once in the whole movie. I said I will shoot it completely different from the Cantina scene. I will shoot it like we really wandered into a real place, and I will use creatures that cost thousands of dollars to pass by and we did.

Question: Did you put in the See You Next Wednesday reference from John Landis?

Del Toro: Landis and Kubrick, yeah.

Question: Also, I noticed there were many references to Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon ...

Del Toro: Every movie that I referenced in the film, Harryhausen, Creature, Wizard of Oz, American Werewolf, whatever it is, those were movies I called my 12-year-old movies, because the idea of Hellboy II was, can I shoot a movie like a 12-year-old? I am 43, I've done 'X' number of movies, but can I learn to just devolve emotionally into like a guy who is so in love with these things that I shoot it with that emotion.

When you see the resurrecting of the fairy, there's a wide angle with everybody around standing and the little fairy moving, which is exactly like a stop motion set up of Harryhausen of Sinbad. Or the resurrection of the stone giant portal, I told Danny Elfman let's listen to Bernard Hermann on Jason and the Argonauts the drum beat and horns and we referenced it because those are all 12-year-old movies and I wanted very much, very much for this movie to have that, I wouldn't say innocence, but that wide-eyed view of the creatures. When you have that love for monsters that is unbridles and untempered by any adult concern in the emotional aspect.

Question: That childlike innocence that you talk about, is that what attracted you to The Hobbit?

Del Toro: I believe so, you know to a point, because the Hobbit like this movie every movie has to be balance between the two. Pan's Labyrinth is the same thing. It had a lot of that awe, but at the same time it is a more adult theme and a more adult tone. The theme and the tone of the Hobbit, I think, are very different from this movie just aesthetically it can't be as poppy as this movie so the approach will be different. The Hobbit is an 11-year-old book and I read it when I was 11 and it hit me right at that moment, so I tried to honor that feeling.

It would be my most sincere hope that somewhere at some point on the Hellboy II exhibition there is a 10-year-old or 11-year-old with his or her parents that fall in love with one of the creature forever like Wink or the Angel of Death or something because we created those monsters...every guy that was involved, every girl that was involved in creating those creatures I ask them to come from a place of love. I did it like animation, which is not very customary in movies like this. I said to each of the guys, "Which is the character that enthralls you? Grab that character and run with it."

Instead of assembly line the monsters, we gave a guy one monster and that guy created him from machete all the way to final realization, wardrobe, sculpting, painting, like you give a lead animator a character in an animated film, because I felt you needed that level of commitment in the creation of the creatures in the movie.

Question: The Elemental in the movie wasn't a black-and-white character. At first, he's evil and you've got to kill him and then you realize....

DeL Toro: ...he's the last of the race. There were two things that concerned me when I was Godzilla movies. I always said, "My God, where does he poop?" I really thought about parking lots full of Godzilla poop. And the second one was, "He's just destroying a few buildings. Why do you kill him? He's extraordinary." I didn't see it in his human tragedy proportions. And I thought the Elemental had the possibility ... are you at some point are you going to kill it when people are not in any more danger? Are you going to kill him because he's destroying a city block?

The Hellboy movies, not unlike Pan's Labyrinth, are about choice and they are about the most pedestrian concerns railroading fantasy, grounding it into dust.

Question: If you decide to do a third Hellboy how are you going to logistically do that if you are committed to the next several years on the Hobbit?

Del Toro: There was four years between the first Hellboy and the second one. There can legitimately be four years between the second one and the third one. It would take at least two years ... it took two years and a half to solve this script for me. I spent huge amounts of time just solving. I wanted to make the action set pieces relevant to the story. The Elemental for example, making it a moment where Prince Nuada says, "Choose between him and them." Things like that.

With the third one the ante is up considerably in that it is a very complicated movie because I wanted to signal the end of at least this incarnation of Hellboy. I'm not saying forever, but I would not be involved past that. It will be probably the last Hellboy Ron has physically in him. It is a very grueling process, he is entering the silver years, shall we say. He's a guy that I cannot demand physical action from again and again, and I think that we would love to make it a sort of a capper.

Question: Considering these are different studios, how are we going to get a DVD set?

Del Toro: I know, isn't that a bitch to figure out? I don't know. I have the same concern, and I think the answer is we won't unless someone strikes a deal that nobody wants to make. I think that, if at all possible, I think the second and third movie would get a package, but the first one won't be there.

Question: Will Ron be in the Hobbit?

Del Toro: I have no idea. I really think that there is, I have the most the greatest friendship and a lot of loyalty he has to me and I believe that there is a commitment to continue enjoying each others work together, but it doesn't come before screenplay. If the screenplay has a character he can fit and fulfil, he'll be there. But if there isn't, we will wait for the next one.

Question: How is the screenplay coming along?

Del Toro: We are starting. We started taking notes on the first novel, on the novel and on the first movie and making adaptations for the ideas for the second one. It is in its infancy right now.

Question: Are you staying faithful to the novel?

Del Toro: Look somebody said and, I agree with that comment, the only faithful adaptation is to actually put the book in front of the camera and turn the pages one by one. That is the only way you are going to do it. Hitchcock used to make a joke; if you give a goat in a garbage dump, and it eats the book and eats the film, the goat will turn and say, "I prefer the book." It is just a commonality.

We will be as faithful to what we believe has to be done. As I said, I found in my life with the Hellboy movies the first one was slightly too slavish in some ways. So I think that we will try to honor it. If this is any indication, I find the differences did to the trilogy in adapting it into a filming trilogy I found them to be absolutely necessary. Many fans will be irate or have been irate, many other have agreed and I see the same thing is going to happen with this.

Question: What brought you to Seth MacFarlane as the voice of Johann?

Del Toro: When we came to the conclusion that Johann was going to be essentially a voice and therefore, I thought who would be the best performer? We talked about Seth early, early on and Lloyd Levin brought him up and I said "Absolutely, ideal."

Because I love Stewie, I love Brian. I do think the guy is an incredibly gifted vocal actor, incredibly gifted and he makes a killer crooner if you've ever heard him sing. But we thought we would never get him, the guy is essentially his own cottage industry. We thought, a guy that is worth whatever millions of dollars, why would he be interested in $10 thousand bucks or whatever to do a voice in a movie. When we called him he said, "Absolutely. Send me the script." He read it, he said, "I love it let's do it." It was easy, but I never thought I would get him.

At the end of the day we went to him and we were fortunate enough and to this day I can tell you, the days he was in the booth, which was about three or four days only, were the happiest days of my geek life. I kept telling him, "In that episode where Peter gets the rectal exam, what was going through your mind?" And he told me fantastic stories. I have my living DVD extras right there. I was like the James Lipton of Family Guy.

Question: Would you like to make a cameo in Family Guy?

Del Toro: I would love to. I would love to.

Question: Has he talked to you about it yet?

Del Toro: Yeah, he said something. I said, "Listen, whatever you need, I'll do it." For whatever reason, I think that a constructive rivalry has existed between Simpsons and Family Guy. And they are in aim and in goal and in style, are so different.

I love them both for completely different reasons. I think The Simpsons generate some literal insight into what it is to be a human. Whereas Family Guy is about rhythm and hits and about going to places where you would not dare to go -- unless you're really drunk.

Question: I think that it's a beautiful constructive. If I can be a voice there, I will be.

E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com

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