A couple of months ago Nick and I had dinner with Guillermo del Toro. We had just seen the unfinished cut of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, but I had to ask the big guy about The Hobbit. I had been very concerned about him getting involved with Peter Jackson as The Boss – in my head, if you’re doing it based on talent, GdT is The Boss. Jackson’s delightfully good behind the camera, but GdT has real vision, the kind of thing that you come across all too rarely in film.

Anyway, I was worried that this project that would be taking him off the directorial market for the next four to five years would be one that didn’t reflect his passions. But listening to him talk about his plans for the films I began to understand that he was going to get his passions in here, especially in the second Hobbit movie, the so-called Bridge film.

Now that Hellboy II has been released pretty much everywhere, GdT is turning his attention to the world of Middle-Earth and beginning the long journey that will take him and his family to New Zealand and will bring a new – and very distinct voice – to one of the biggest franchises in movie history.

He called in to a Hellboy II Q&A in Australia to say that the scripting process has begun for the films (they’ve already broken the story for the second one, as far as I know), and he described it as ‘beautiful.’ Guillermo is working with Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens on the script; while this isn’t Guillermo’s first time collaborating on a screenplay, it probably will be his most unusual. When he gets back to Los Angeles I intend to fully grill him about the process of working with these three people who have become a well-oiled writing machine.

He also talked to IGN Australia and reiterated what he’s been saying all along: while Gollum will once again be CGI, he is going to rely on a mix of styles for bringing Middle-Earth to life. “You have to be very careful not to rely on a single tool – and this is another thing that I share a passion for with Peter Jackson. We both are huge fans of ‘old-world’ techniques like maquettes, models, miniatures, paintings – and in the case of The Hobbit, I do intend to continue this trend and bring much more animatronics into the mix.

“We need to keep that art form alive, because it brings a textural power to the movie that ultimately affects the content. The creatures somehow seem more tactile and more tangible than CG.”

The next bit of Hobbit news to look out for: Viggo Mortenson will be participating in press for a couple of films at the Toronto Film Festival in a couple of weeks. I fully expect him to be asked about Aragorn returning – perhaps we’ll even get an official announcement out of him.