Del Toro knew he would have to walk a creative tightrope between homage and pastiche. “I wanted to make a movie made by fans, but not a ‘fan movie’,” he explains. “I didn’t want it to be a collection of kaiju movie ‘best of’ moments. So [kaiju fans] are gonna see some stuff that is honouring the tradition, but also a lot of stuff that is my own take on that tradition.”
His reverence for Japanese kaiju and robot films was a major drawcard for star Rinko Kikuchi, who plays the spirited Jaeger pilot Mako Mori. “Being a part of this movie is a dream come true; I grew up with a lot of monster movies, giant robot movies, as a kid, and also this role is like a superhero. I love this character,” she says. “I hope the Japanese audiences will like this movie, because a Japanese girl is the superhero who has to save the world.”
The director has nothing but praise for the actress. “I tell you, I think Rinko is an extraordinary actor, and I think she is very, very brave,” he says, uncharacteristically serious. “I really found her to have a great strength and centre, and I wanted the character of Mako… When you say, normally, ‘There is a young, Japanese girl pilot’, you imagine a super-sexy, skimpy clad girl that has her t-shirt wet every five minutes, and is, you know…” he strikes a ‘kawaii’ pose and giggles. “I wanted very much to have a character that [was] on equal terms with Raleigh; that they didn’t have to have a love story, but instead have love and respect as colleagues. It was important for her to be strong, and be strong from a feminine core; I didn’t want her to be the girl that turns into [either] a sex object or a guy, which is the normal thing in action movies.”"
Hooray, you can now read my Pacific Rim feature, a quote-a-rama from Guillermo Del Toro, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Hunnam, and the team from Industrial Light & Magic.