Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by Peter Sciretta
Pilots inside the Jaegers are hooked in through the Conn-Pod. They control the Jaeger through movements and a shared neural bridge between the two pilots. The pilots have a 3d projected HUD inside the robots before the windshield looking out to the outside world.
The Conn-Pods are located inside the head of all of the mechs, except for Gipsy Danger, which has the conn-pod located in the chest. The inside of each pod has a very different look and feel, so when they cut between the different robots you’ll know which one you are inside. For instance, Striker has a green army look. The Russian Conn-Pod looks like an old battleship.
The Conn Pod in the Crimson Typhoon, the Chinese Jaeger, is more modern looking, red and black colored, with room for three pilots. The Chinese pilots are played by three identical Chinese triplets. They are called the Wei Tang Clan.
The Conn Pods are practically built sets, where most of the robot exteriors are computer generated. The robots are so massive they couldn’t build them practically. During some scenes you’ll see a 15 foot tall piece of the robot’s heel. Whenever a Jaeger is on screen with an actor, a piece of the robotics constructed to extend into the computer generated Jaeger (set/prop extension). The Conn Pod sets are 30 feet by 25 feet.
Del Toro wanted to bring the language of World War II bombers and oil tankers into the visuals of the Conn Pods. He wanted the sets to have scratches and wear, and feel as real as possible.
Around the world there are underground bunkers called Anti-Kaiju refuges where people can hide when the Kaiju alarm goes off. These areas are very crowded and claustrophobic.
Del Toro wanted the Kaiju to always feel like a force of nature, unrelenting and massive.
Guillermo didn’t want to do the story of partners who hated each other that are forced to be together. He instead wanted to tell the story of all the world coming together, even though all of them have great differences.
He was considering Charlie Hunnam for Hellboy 2, even going as far as doing screentests. But he decided to go a different way with the casting at the time.
Charlie Day‘s character Dr. Newton Geiszler works for a Pan Pacific group studying the monsters’ organs. Newt is a comic relief character but always set in real dramatic situations. He is sort of the “Everyman” in the movie. Newt goes on the streets to find Hannibal (played by Ron Perlman), to get his hands on a black-market Kaiju brain, and finds himself in the middle of the action. He is obsessed with trying to share a mind space with one of the Kaiju, much in the same way the pilots share a mind space to operate the Robots, to experience what they see.
He is a nerdy scientist rebelling against the look of “the nerdy scientist” instead trying for a more rock and roll vibe which “both suits him and doesn’t suit him.” His costume gives you a glimpse into who he wants to be rather than who he is. For instance his leather jacket and silver skull pinky ring.
Guillermo is a huge fan of It’s Always Sunny, which is why he cast Charlie Day in the film. Day says he is a huge fan of Pan’s Labyrinth, so they hit it off. Day joked on set that the budget for any one of the Pacific Rim sets is probably more money then a season of It’s Always Sunny. He was amazed at the detail and says if you find a broken car on a street set, you’ll probably find a receipt in the car from one of the storefronts on the set.
Charlie Day says that Guillermo knows more movies and shots than any other director he’s ever worked with. He knows how to use the cinematics in a way that makes him a true visual artist.
Ron Perlman‘s character Hannibal Chau is the head of a group of scavengers who get to Kaiju remains first and sell pieces of the corpses on the black market. He has a contract — the sole contract — with the government to get the kaiju parts after they are done with them. He’s in it for profit, not science. Kaiju bone powder apparently has a much better effect than Viagra, making it very valuable. Hannibal is a bit of a collector, who likes to surround himself with artifacts from endangered species, and wears fine clothes and design. He’s got a big scar on the right side of his face, above and below his eye. His gold tie has traditional asian red dragons on it. Gold jewelry and watch, and gold plated shoes.
Hannibal Chau was designed to be played by an actor of another ethnicity, but del Toro had the idea to rework the character for Perlman.
The actor says he’s playing the character “big” and “very theatrically”.
Of all the sets, the most fine detail went into Hannibal Chau’s secret lab set. There are lots of animatronic monster pieces, custom constructed aquarium structures holding Kaiju pieces. Guillermo has described the set as “the jewelry box,” from the film’s inception. Ron notes that there is always a set on a Guillermo del Toro movie with dissected creatures created for science, collecting, or both.
Four-foot long alien insect creatures called Roleypolly are found on the dead Kaiju; they’re parasites that live off the monsters. The insects are created with a combination of computer effects and full-size puppets which are robotically controlled.