‘Pacific Rim': Guillermo del Toro on Japanese pop culture influence

May 16, 2013 | 2:08 p.m.

Guillermo del Toro served as a guest of honor at the fourth annual Hero Complex Film Festival this past weekend in Hollywood, appearing on stage for a Q&A between screenings of two of his most personal films, the Spanish-language movies “The Devil’s Backbone,” a 2001 gothic horror movie set during the Spanish Civil War, and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” his Academy Award-winning dark fantasy set during Francoist Spain.

But the appearance also provided the writer-director with a chance to tout his latest, “Pacific Rim,” a $180-million love letter to the kaiju movies he loved growing up.

Showing the latest trailer for the film, which debuted online Thursday, spurred him to discuss his love for Japanese pop culture. He talked about reading manga series like “Astro Boy,” watching films by Toho, the Japanese production company behind Godzilla, and fancifully sketching giant robots. (To see Del Toro chatting about his inspiration for “Pacific Rim,” watch the video above.)

Due in theaters July 12, the film, which Del Toro co-wrote with Travis Beacham, takes place in a near future, after a race of giant alien monsters has invaded our world via an inter-dimensional portal, prompting mankind to build equally enormous robots called Jaegers to defeat them.

The hulking mechanized weapons are manned by an elite team of pilots, including Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket and Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori, who represent humanity’s best line of defense against the beastly threat.

Hosted by Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre at the Chinese 6 Theatres, the festival started Friday night with a John Carpenter double feature and discussion and continued Saturday with a screening of “The Mist” featuring Frank Darabont and Thomas Jane.

Sunday afternoon featured a screening of “Independence Day” and conversation with director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin, star Jeff Goldbum and effects wizard Volker Engel. That was followed in the evening by a 20th anniversary tribute to “The X-Files” with creator Chris Carter and two of the series’ writers, Glen Morgan and Darin Morgan, and showings of three fan-picked episodes.

Look for more video excerpts from each of the conversations from the festival to be posted soon.

– Rebecca Keegan and Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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