Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011 by Peter Sciretta
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 Abe_Sapien@hotmail.com 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.