Guillermo del Toro talks "Hellboy II"

In July, fans of everyone’s favorite kitten-loving hero from Hell will be lining up for his next epic adventure with “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” based on the Dark Horse comic books by Mike Mignola. When a treaty between our dimension and another is broken, Hellboy and his friends in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense will this time face an entire army of fantastical foes. Orchestrating both sides of the battle is the director and co-writer of the first Hellboy film, Guillermo del Toro.

Recently confirmed as the director of two films based on JR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” CBR News caught up with del Toro before he was whisked away to Middle Earth to talk to him about “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and find out what is in store for Mike Mignola’s Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in their latest big-screen adventure.

Born in Mexico, del Toro began his career writing and directing Spanish language films in the '80s. In 1993 he directed and wrote “Cronos,” his first English speaking film. Del Toro’s work continued with such horror-action films as “Mimic” and the very successful “Blade II,” his first comic book movie. While he firmly had solidified his cult following with “Hellboy” in 2004, it was with 2006’s “El Laberinto Del Fauno,” better known as “Pan’s Labyrinth,” that del Toro reached achieved his biggest critical acclaim.

“I think it’s the primal motor of human endeavor,” said del Toro about his fascination with exploring mythology and fantasy in his films. “All human endeavor: spiritual, physical, social. I think myth makes humans what we are, it is the essence of being human, the capacity to invent. No raccoon worships the god of the trash can and we do. There are plenty of people that worship in search of a spiritual meaning. Anyone that says, 'Okay, we are this or that many chromosomes away from being an ape,’ they should consider imagination as one thing that is a huge chasm between us.”

There being such a wealth of “real” and fictional history and mythology in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic books, fans are of course eager to know if they’ll be seeing more of that in the second Hellboy film. “In terms of exploring the fantasy you are going to see more but it won’t be in the same way as in the comic,” del Toro said. In the comic, because the comic is ultimately a visual/literary form, you have the chance of exploring folklore from an almost professorial/academic point of view with the fun of pulp. In the movie we don’t have that luxury there are entire stretches of dialogue in the first movie that are really cool if you put them in balloon form but that sound completely like exposition in film. So we do have more of [an] old world mythology to the creatures and the environments but we do not go into explaining them like the comic does.”

Having one Hellboy film under his belt and going into a second one, del Toro had some personal for sequel. “I think we made plenty of mistakes in the first one that I wanted to correct,” the director confessed. “I wanted to make sure the second one succeeded or failed on its own merits. There were a lot of decisions that were affecting the first movie and in the second one I wanted to be freer. I wanted to be a little more thorough in preserving what I thought was essential for the film. This sounds more like a New Year’s Resolution but it is what it was.”

What exactly are those essentials? For del Toro, it was simple: “Monsters. Lots and lots of monsters.”

Like any proud father, del Toro did have a hard time picking amongst his favorite monster from the film. “I love them all. But if I had to, if I was cattle prodded and tortured I would say Mr. Wink [played by Brian Steele], which is the prince’s bodyguard.” Del Toro also noted that frequent collaborator Doug Jones’ Angel of Death was also a favorite of his.

Del Toro and Jones followed up their work together on the first Hellboy film with Jones taking on two roles in “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Now with their third film together, Jones has taken on three roles, that of B.P.R.D. member Abe Sapien, the aforementioned Angel of Death, and also a character called the Chamberlain. The relationship with Jones naturally evolved, Del Toro explained. “For creative reasons I wanted him to play two roles in 'Pan’s Labyrinth’ but there are few actors like Brian Steele or Doug Jones that can play characters under creature makeup and be great. So they are cursed by their own talent; they have to work more.”

Del Toro is excited that fans would finally get to see this film and said there were several scenes that audiences should look forward to. “I love the scene with the Angel of Death and I love the troll market but I also love intimate scenes,” he said. “There is a great scene that involves singing that I would highly recommend and there is another scene in the locker room that is really just beautiful.”

The overreaching theme of CHOICE will be making a return in the second Hellboy film. “In the first movie, [it] was essentially Hellboy deciding if he was human or not,” del Toro said. “At the end of the movie, he kind of resolved that no matter what he looked like, he felt he had the soul of the human. The second movie is exploring other types of choices [like], 'Do I really belong with the rest of them?’” Del Toro added that if there is a third Hellboy film, the theme of choice would return once again with a simple question, 'Will I or will I not become the beast of the Apocalypse?’ as is Hellboy’s supposed destiny. “These are three choices that most of us experience in our lives,” del Toro joked. As to whether del Toro himself would choose to be the beast of the Apocalypse? “I am not sure but I tell you this, I would have to think about it!”

Indeed, Guillermo del Toro already has plans for a third Hellboy live action outing. In fact, he and co-writer Mike Mignola have already planted the seeds for that film within “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” “We have the idea. There are a lot of things that are already in the second movie that would be big spoilers if I gave you but they make themselves pretty evident in the second movie.”

Del Toro continued, “The idea [for the third movie] is that the Nazis have been preserving an archangel in stasis since 1944 and they are going to unleash that archangel, who has been brainwashed into destroying Hellboy. And that is essentially the third movie.”

But for fans to see that movie they need to take a trip down to the cinema on July 11 for “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”

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