Guillermo Del Toro has a distinct talent for the unusual, the startling and the unexpected. In 2006, his award winning Pan’s Labyrinth took a distinct and unusual view of fascism, war and death, all through the eyes of a young girl and a cast of some unusual characters. It was and still is a defining film in his career. The director of Hellboy surprised a lot of critics with his dark fairy tale for adults.
Del Toro likes surprising us on film but when it comes to the people he works with he likes to keep the surprises at a minimum. Three of the key players involved in his latest Hellboy II: The Golden Army have worked with the director on other projects.
First, there’s the story of the two Guillermos, Del Toro and Navarro. The newest Hellboy is only the latest of five collaborations which included an Oscar for Navarro’s cinematography for Pan’s Labyrinth.
The two film makers spend time before filming begins to decide on the look that a particular project demands. Their research can include everything from great works of art to comic books. It’s their goal to have their vision clear even before a single frame of film is shot.
Decisions about lighting, costumes, hair are all made ahead of time and then are rarely if ever discussed during the shooting of a film. All of these technical decisions are set and the concentration can shift to the actors and the film itself.
“Guillermo is a friend and I trust him as an artist and a partner.” says Del Toro.
Another repeat visitor to Del Toro’s world is actor Ron Perlman the man who once played a sewer dwelling leonine Beast to Linda Hamilton’s Beauty in the television version series “Beauty and the Beast”. It’s no surprise the actor knows his way around prosthetics and heavy makeup. He’s adept at not allowing his work to be overwhelmed by the makeup.
Perlman first worked with Del Toro in the director’s first film 1993’s Cronos as the Guardian Angel. The two worked again in Blade II nine years later. Del Toro always saw Perlman as his Hellboy and finally got the chance to realize that casting dream with Hellboy in 2004. And now Perlman reprises the role in the new Hellboy II :The Golden Army.
Doug Jones was a journeyman actor until he met the role of Abe Sapien in Del Toro’s 2004 Hellboy. The role raised his profile among audiences, but it also made him an actor that Del Toro wanted to work with again.
When the time came to cast the pivotal role of Pan in Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, it was Jones who got the call. The role was a defining one with the actor working under prosthetics that left him unrecognizable. But it’s the actor’s way with movement that in many ways defines him with audiences. He also portrayed The Pale Male a child eating monster in the film and spoke his lines in archaic Spanish which has different phrases and pronunciation than modern Spanish.
In the wake of these higher profile acting challenges Jones took on the role of the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He’ll reprise the role in Silver Surfer.
Del Toro has an affinity for the unusual and says of the characters that he and the artists who are his collaborators create:
“We all need monsters to dream and that’s what we’re doing.”
Those monsters created by Del Toro’s two favorite actors have raised the profile and the careers of both. And working with Del Toro has brought acclaim to much of his creative team, including of course Navarro.
The loyalty of a strong team, actors and technical artists alike, have perhaps been one of the reasons that Del Toro’s monsters have become part of our waking lives.
“Guillermo is one of those people who, I’m not the only person he’s collected over the years. He’s collected a lot of people over the years on all levels of filmmaking. He collects a lot of young film students who want to be a production assistant on one of his movies and if he likes your personalities, works well with you and respects your creativity, he’ll keep him on the team and will use them again and again for different things and music people. He has music submitted to him on his little email address that’s open to the fans. Someone will send him a little file of a song, and if he likes it it might show up in his next film, and once he’s met you, worked with you, likes you, has a connection with you, and develops a language with you, which he has with me, he’s loyal, he’s as loyal as a hound dog.” — Doug Jones on Guillermo Del Toro (Quote courtesy of FirstShowing.net)