Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro is making himself comfortable in Wellington as he hunkers down to direct The Hobbit including replicating his Los Angeles "man cave".
Oscar winner del Toro has two homes in LA a family home and another a few blocks away to house his enormous collection of books, graphic novels and other memorabilia.
"The beauty of it is that I wake up, I kiss the wife, I take the kids to school, I go up literally to `my house' and I spend all morning there. I have lunch with [my family], spend the afternoon in my house and come back at night," he told The Dominion Post.
He loves the arrangement so much he has done the same in Wellington, where he has been based for the past eight months. He will stay while The Hobbit is shot here next year and till the first part is released in 2011.
The second home was not to escape his family, including his two daughters who will be based here after they finish the American school year, but so he could work, he said.
"It's like `the man cave'... I bought a little house for me, where I have my books, my paintings, my toys. I paint models there, I draw, I write, then the family house is a normal family house. It's great because people say, 'How can you be productive?' If you are in the right environment for eight hours a day you really make a lot of it."
As well as directing The Hobbit, del Toro, 44, has co-written the script with Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson. Del Toro said he and Jackson were similar.
"We willed ourselves into learning [special] effects. We love [special effects pioneer] Ray Harryhausen, Doctor Who, horror. What we are different in, we are deeply different, but we have enough similarities to be having a fantastic time."
Del Toro said he had about 350 books from his collection that he duplicates for wherever he is based while filming, and some for his Wellington stay had been bought here. "I think I have been to every bookstore and I love them. I think it's a great city for book lovers." His favourites were Unity Books and Dymocks he was saddened by the latter's closure this week.
His collection included books of vampire fiction and lore, which were important because on June 1 he will make his debut as a novelist.
The Strain, co-written with mystery writer Chuck Hogan, is the first part of a trilogy where large numbers of people are transformed into horrific bloodsucking vampire creatures and a New York disease control team tries to contain the outbreak.
The Hellboy director also has several projects as a producer on the go, including Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, to be shot in Melbourne and starring Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise's wife. Del Toro said one reason Melbourne was chosen was because he would be in Wellington.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
On living in Wellington:
"I think it's paradise, I think it's fantastic then again I live a very secluded life. I love going to dinner. I think the cafe and restaurant food is excellent ... I have had only two bad meals in Wellington in eight months."
On Wellington's cold and wet days:
"I like the weather because if it's like that now in five minutes it's going to be sunny spring weather."
On the demands of making The Hobbit:
"I work on it all day long and at 6pm I go home. I wake up early and I do my Los Angeles business from 6am to 9am. At night, if I have free time and my family's not with me, I write."
On Peter Jackson's studios and team:
"They're the best. It's the only movie facility in every aspect that was created around a film-maker that is not corporate. The whole structure is run on creativity. It is unique and uniquely great."
On working with Jackson:
"We are very much of the same mind. We are very much alike in so many aspects [but] I wish he hadn't lost weight, then we would really be alike."
- The Dominion Post