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WonderCon 2013: Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ Panel
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WonderCon 2013: Pacific Rim Panel banner

At WonderCon 2013‘s Pacific Rim panel, director Guillermo Del Toro came to the stage amidst wild applause and greeted the fans with a hearty, “Hola!”

He asked if people have seen the various Pacific Rim trailers that have already been released. The audience applauded in agreement. He said that was good, because the trailer he was about to show was cut specifically for this event, and probably won’t be seen again after this.

He then showed the new trailer, the highlight of which was seeing a 25-story high Jaeger robot dragging a oil tanker behind it through the streets of Hong Kong, to use as a bat against a Kaiju, followed by a two-fist slap to the Kaiju’s head.

The scale of the shoot was enormous. They occupied the largest stage in North America and the largest stage at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Guillermo built several blocks of Hong Kong to destroy; he built a foot of the Jaeger full size, and the interior of Jaeger heads and actual Jaeger-controlling suits for the actors to wear wer about the size of a VW Beetle. All the actors complained about the physical challenges of working with the heavy suits, except for Rinko Kikuchi, who thought of gummy bears and flowers to keep herself positive.

Del Toro wanted to focus much of the movie on the reactions of society in the aftermath of the Kaiju attacks. He was inspired by visuals of post-war World War II as a design influence. Ron Perlman plays a black market Kaiju body parts dealer of the lowest kind, selling Kaiju livers and other body parts, such as powdered Kaiju for erectile dysfunction.

Charlie Day for Del Toro was reminiscent at times of Rick Moranis, JJ Abrams, and Bradley Cooper, ever-evolving to the role. Del Toro wanted Day to play a scientist who’s also a punk rocker. He picked him after seeing a scene from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia where he came down from the attic after killing a rat. That’s what led him to cast Day as a straight actor, playing the character straight, and letting his comedy come through the situations.

Every Jaeger in the film is controlled by two robot jockeys, linked by a neural bridge. During the production, many Jaegers and Kaijus were designed and they were selected via an American Idol-style elimination process, ending with 12 kaijus and 9 Jaegers who made the final cut. For these, he needed to figure out the energy details of every Jaeger and all the fighting styles, such as where the arms would retract. Del Toro intentionally didn’t use motion capture, because he wanted the CG animators to figure out how the Jaegers and kaijus would move around, given their enormous scale. He said he’s seen the movie hundreds of times, and he’s still in heaven every time he sees it.

He was asked advice on negotiating with studios to get his way on decisions. He said at the end of the day, the buck stops with you, whatever mistakes you make, it’s your fault, and it’s better to not make the movie than to make a movie you don’t want to make. In that respect, Pacific Rim was his most satisfying experience to date. In negotiations, the most powerful word in the English language to say is “no.”

During the audience Q&A, a youngster dressed as Captain America asked where Del Toro got the story for Jaegers vs Kaiju. Del Toro said it was sent to him via his agent, and he agreed to a meeting immediately based on that one-line concept.

To close out the panel, Del Toro showed the WonderCon audience the cover to an upcoming tie-in comic book, written by Travis Beacham, that will act as a backstory to the movie.

The Pacific Rim panel moderated by Drew McWeeny from HitFix.com

[Photo credit: Guillermo Del Toro at 2013 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, by Andrew Sorcini (Mr. Babyman) for Geeks of Doom.]

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