Comic-Con 2011: Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro geek out with the faithful at EW's Visionaries panel

Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro are Comic-Con rock stars, and at Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries panel on Thursday, they were greeted as such by the crowd in Hall H. Both have a long history at the Con: Favreau famously received a major boost of buzz here when he previewed footage of the first Iron Man, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance this year by holding the Cowboys and Aliens premiere in San Diego this Saturday. Del Toro — here this year to promote the horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which he produced, and to offer a preview of his monster movie Pacific Rim — has been a fanboy favorite for many years on the strength of feverishly imaginative genre films like The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy. But when they sat down with EW’s Jeff “Doc” Jensen, the two directors often sounded more like fanboys themselves as they talked about their inspirations, their creative processes, and their abiding love for monsters, aliens, and things that go bump in the night. Here were some highlights:

On their admiration for one another: “Often directors don’t hang together because we’re jealous a–holes,” Del Toro noted. But the two spoke of their friendship that has developed over the last several years, with Favreau calling Del Toro “an inspiration and a mentor and someone to commiserate with.”

“Especially about losing weight,” Del Toro cracked.

Favreau on skepticism about the premise of Cowboys and Aliens: “You hear, ‘I can’t believe they’re doing that! This is offensive to me…. Cowboys and aliens don’t fight each other. They didn’t exist at the same time! This is insulting! I can’t believe Hollywood is making a movie like this!’ Alien robots turn into trucks and that’s okay. They think that’s plausible. But you get James Bond and Indiana Jones fighting aliens and we’ve crossed a line there. I feel like all high concept movies are intrinsically ridiculous. That’s the whole idea of high concept: You’re taking a crazy situation and you’re bringing reality to it.”

Del Toro on his dream project, At the Mountains of Madness, an adaptation of a classic H.P. Lovecraft horror tale, which recently fell apart over budget concerns: “I hope [we can still make it]. I’ve been trying to do it for so many years. We were so close, and the incarnation we were going to do is so great, I don’t want to give up. Fortunately, we control the property … so we can try to keep it alive. I hope I make it. It’s one of those movies that’s a Holy Grail for me.”

Favreau on the overuse of CGI in current tentpole movies: “It’s lazy. Before you had CGI, you were forced to use other tools. If you saw Jaws right at the beginning of Jaws, you wouldn’t be scared of that movie. It’s the music, the cutting, the tension, the acting, the filmmaking that builds you to the point where you’re so tense that by the time you see that puppet come out of the water, you s— yourself…. Just because it’s easy to show it, doesn’t mean you should… I think that’s becoming more of a lost art.”

Del Toro on his reputation as a filmmaker: “I don’t think I’m a household name director. I think I’m an acquired taste. When I come here, it’s fantastic, but I don’t buy that illusion… I’m really a freak 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. I’m a weird, strange, fat motherf—er, and I plan to stay that way.”

Favreau on risk-taking: “Every day we take risks. If you’re in the safe zone, it gets boring. 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. It’s easy to be scared. But every time I’ve taken a risk, it’s paid off… Once you’ve learned to be comfortable with failure, there’s nothing that can be done to you… [Cowboys and Aliens] 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 are versions of other things you’ve seen before. So I took a big risk.”

Del Toro on his next directorial project, Pacific Rim: “It’s the most fun I’ve had on a Hollywood movie ever. It almost should be illegal. We’re designing monsters all day long. Gigantic f—ing monsters. All day long.”

Read more:
‘Breaking Dawn’ honeymoon footage screened at Comic-Con
‘Twilight’ cast surprises Comic-Con fans with breakfast
‘Twilight’ at Comic-Con 2011: Talking to the fans at Camp ‘Breaking Dawn’
Entertainment Geekly‘s 2011 Comic-Con coverage


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Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • dee

    Please. Comparing Del Toro & Favreau is like comparing a Rolls Royce & a Hyundai.

    • The Hypnotoad

      LOL! I loved Iron Man, but your right.

      • Jenn

        Comparing Del Toro and Favreau is like comparing Raquel Welch and Snooki.

    • Julie

      Absolutely true, but apparently by EW’s standards Favreau is some kind of “visionary.” Why EW has felt the need to dumb itself down so drastically in recent months is the biggest mystery.

      • nathan

        Yes, its really really sad. I used to anticipate so heavily recieving my copy of EW in the mail on Thurs/Fri because they offered so many insightful pieces you just wouldn’t find many other places, even with the variety and sheer enormity of articles on the internet. Now EW is literally full of filler. And I’m getting the vibe that Owen and Lisa know it. Their writing is getting lazier (imho). I knew we were in for a change when they yanked the Inside Movies blog.

    • Mike

      Eh…let’s see Del Toro’s version SWINGERS! lol

      • Mike

        And yes I know Favreau didn’t direct it, but he did write it.

  • Pariah

    eff-awff, what about the unfaithful huh!? I got middle fingers for everyone at Comic-Con. I will never work with you elitist pigs.

  • Meg

    Guillermo del Toro is my absolute favorite director and reading this just made my day. I love how he refuses to believe that he’s a household name director (though I’d beg to differ). As always, I’m looking forward to what his next project will be.
    As for Jon Favreau, I think people are being a bit too harsh on him. He’s not as “out there” as del Toro, but I think he’s a pretty solid director. Of the films I’ve seen him direct, I enjoyed them.
    They may not make the same films but they have the same passion for film making and doing what they want rather than what is expected of them, and you have to respect that from both men.

  • Liz Lemon

    I was hoping to hear something about Del toro and Beauty and the Beast.
    I really hope he directs.

    • kate

      Me too. Especially if Emma Watson is in it.

  • tresorparis

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

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