Del Toro Caught Between Halo And Hellboy

Exclusive: Mexican director on new films

The rumours are true: Peter Jackson has approached Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro to helm the eagerly-awaited adaptation of the best-selling videogame, Halo.

However, del Toro – who’s currently in Madrid, where he’s in post-production on his new Spanish-language fantasy film, Pan's Labyrinth – is torn between committing to the Universal movie, or reuniting with his favourite comic character for Hellboy 2.

How do we know this? Well, we spoke to our old chum Guillermo yesterday and he confirmed that when he finishes work on Pan’s Labyrinth – “the best thing I’ve ever done, that’s not saying much but I’m sure of it! It’s really beautiful, man!” – he has a quandary.

On the one hand, he is raring to go on Hellboy 2, the sequel to last year’s cracking comic book adaptation, starring Ron Perlman as the red-skinned, demonic, wisecracking paranormal investigator.

The original made just under $100 million worldwide, but has done very well on DVD, prompting Sony Revolution to allow him and producers Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon to develop a sequel. “It’s going really good,” says del Toro, who’s completed a script. “It’s about the fairy world and the mythical creatures all rebelling against humanity and saying it’s the end of mankind and it’s the season for the sons of the Earth. And basically Hellboy has to try to repress or suppress that rebellion.”

Sounds good. Perlman and the rest of the original cast – including Selma Blair, Doug Jones, David Hyde-Pierce and Rupert Evans – are all coming back, while Hellboy creator Mike Mignola is also on board. “He should be reading the screenplay right now,” laughed Guillermo.

But – and it’s a big but – Hellboy 2 is still awaiting the big greenlight, before filming can take place (partially in the UK, fact fans). “We’re budgeting,” said del Toro. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I wanna do it. It’s still on the front burner, but it’s all about budget.”

On the back burner, but very much in Guillermo’s thinking, is Halo, a game that, with its fully realised alien worlds and bizarre creatures, is after del Toro’s own heart.

“Well, Halo is very much an interesting project because it’s so full of monsters,” he said. “It’s a big temptation. I’m in talks with them [Universal and Bungie Films] and Peter, but it’s not true that it’s on and Hellboy’s off. Hellboy’s on. If everything goes as planned, Hellboy will go.”

An avid gamer, del Toro has been a big fan of Halo for some time. “Most of the time games don’t have an universe or creatures that interest me enough. And this one does. Master Chief [Halo’s mysterious hero] is such an iconic character and it’s very much a sort of a good version of [Hellboy villain] Kroenen.”

One factor in Halo’s favour is that, from Doom to Resident Evil to Super Mario Bros., there hasn’t yet been a good game-to-film transfer. “No, there hasn’t,” agrees Guillermo. “I really love the technical and visual challenges of the movie. It’s a very intense game and I thought it was very cinematic. The game is structured in many ways like a movie. It could kick some ass.”

However, time is not on Guillermo’s side – if Hellboy 2 happens, or takes some time to go, it’s possible Halo could go somewhere else. “The ideal for me would be to do Hellboy 2 and if Halo doesn’t go away, then yeah, I’d love to do both. But it may go to somebody else. We’ll see.”