Guillermo del Toro Talks DR. STRANGE, Why Video Game Adaptations are So Difficult, and His Failed HALO Movie With D.B. Weiss

     August 9, 2012


As most of you know, I recently did an epic hour-long video interview with director Guillermo del Toro, and over the past two weeks I’ve been breaking it down into smaller segments. For today’s installment, del Toro talks about his rumored Dr. Strange movie with Neil Gaiman, how the 24/7 news cycle of the internet has changed the way projects get reported,  the length of time it really takes to get a movie made, how many projects he’s been developing have never leaked, his thoughts on what it will take to make a kick-ass video game adaptation and the inherent difficulty in transitioning to movie screens, and more.  In addition, for all you Halo fans, del Toro talks about the Halo movie he developed with D.B. Weiss, who is now very famous for HBO’s Game of Thrones.  Hit the jump for more.

As usual, here’s the video followed by the full transcript.  Look for more with del Toro tomorrow night.

Guillermo del Toro

  • Has he found that it’s tougher and tougher to get projects off the ground.  Talks about some of his previous film projects
  • 3:05 – Is he surprised by how quickly news of a project gets out now even if it’s just someone taking a meeting.  Talks about that happened with Dr. Strange.
  • 4:05 – Says even though a lot gets reported, he’s developed a lot of properties that no one knows about
  • 4:30 – Talks about the failed Halo movie which he worked on with D. B. Weiss who is now famous for Game of Thrones
  • 5:05 – What is it going to take to make the first successful video game movie.  Explains what he thinks is the inherent difficulty.

guillermo-del-toro-the-bloody-bendersCollider:  In the past, we’ve seen your name attached to many different properties and projects.  Have you found, in the last few years, that it’s been tougher and tougher to get things off the ground?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: No, I mean it’s always been tough.  If you went back in a time machine to 1999 or 2001, I was attached to the same amount of projects back then—and some of them happened and some of them didn’t—except it was not made public, nobody heard about it.  If you went to a flashframe of my life in 1996, I had Monte Cristo, I had List of 7, I had Mephisto’s Bridge, I had Devil’s Backbone, I had like seven different pieces of material in development in some form or another, except nobody knew. 

I was trying to do video games back then, I was trying to do TV series back then.  For example, Midnight Delivery which is a screenplay that is at Universal being developed, I wrote that in 1995 I think, 1994, so these things I carry with me all this time but everything gets a lot of work.  It’s not like a slight attachment; it actually sucks the time out of your day.  It sucks days at a time, it sucks weeks, months, years of your life.  Like The Hulk, we have not one but about three drafts done of The HulkThe Haunted Mansion [we have] several drafts, outlines, concept design, physical maquettes, physical sculptures, a bust of the headbox ghost.  These are things that you do. 

at_the_mountains_of_madness_book_coverAt the Mountains of Madness, well, [we have] like 50 drafts (laughs), more.  Countless hours of design.  You design the world, the props, the monsters, all of that.  I’ve got seven gorgeous physical maquettes that would break your heart.  You know, this takes time.  It’s easy to resume the two years on The Hobbit like “Oh, two years,” but that includes all of the above.  So these are properties you get attached to and you develop, whether they happen or not that’s not within your control.

With the 24/7 news cycle of the internet, if someone takes a meeting with someone, five minutes later it’s online that they’re doing something.  Do you follow a lot of the online stuff and are surprised at how quickly news is getting out there even if you’re just meeting with someone?

DEL TORO: Yeah that happened to me with Dr. Strange.  When Neil Gaiman was visiting Hellboy II, he literally said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do Dr Strange together?” and I said, “Yeah that would be cool.” (laughs) That was the extent of the discussion, and then four or five weeks later it was like “Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Developing Dr. Strange for Marvel,” and Marvel had never heard of that development and neither have I.  Some other times people say to me that I’m attached to a Gears of War movie and I go, “No I’m not. I play the game, but I’ve never had a conversation like that.” 

halo-imageOn the other hand what’s curious—and this is something nobody knows and I’m not gonna say which properties—there’s a lot of things that we have actually developed that nobody knows about.  The same thing happened with the Halo movie.  Back then, D.B. Weiss who’s now famous for Game of Thrones, he developed a screenplay together with us that is gorgeous, I thought he did a fantastic job.  And nobody ever heard of that, so there are things that I’m very happy that nobody knows about that have been developed or are being developed, but I am surprised sometimes how fast it goes.

What do you think it’s gonna take to make the first successful, big video game movie?

shadow-of-the-colossus-imageDEL TORO: I don’t know because it’s very hard to replicate, in a linear narrative, what makes an immersive narrative like a video game work.  I think that Shadow of the Colossus by Andrei Tarkovsky, I would be very interested in seeing (laughs).  Or Terrence Malick, a contemplative version of Shadow of the Colossus, I would love to see that.  But if the three act Aristotelian structure of Act I, Act II, Act II, turning point, turning point, middle of the film structure is imposed on a video game, it’s harder to replicate the experience that makes the video game that. 

I think Halo is perfect to be recreated in movie form, but there are not many properties that are that translatable.  I think that visually and atmospherically the Silent Hill movie did a very good job at translating some of the stuff, but the thing is that because the avatar you play with in a video game is at the same time a character and at the same time a character you complete—it’s a very strange symbiosis that happens in video games, you become a character.  Like when we play Left 4 Dead I always choose Francis, I’m Francis.  My daughter says, “Why?” and I say, “Because it looks like Ron Perlman” (laughs).  So I wanna be the guy, I’m not playing with Zoe.  Video games are a really inward symbiosis and I think that sometimes that becomes like literature.  When you read a book, everybody has an Oliver Twist in their mind because they heard the voice, they saw the character.  It’s almost the same with video games.

pacific-rim-comic-con-posterHere’s the previous installments with del Toro:

Latest News