Guillermo del Toro, director of the dark fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth,” has admitted that he never got into Tolkien’s brand of high fantasy. When asked by Salon in 2006 if he was influenced by Tolkien, del Toro said, “I was never into heroic fantasy. At all. I don’t like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits — I’ve never been into that at all. I don’t like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff.” Meanwhile, the director admitted to Entertainment Weekly that he never actually finished reading “The Lord of the Rings.” “I tried my best to read … the trilogy,” he said. “I could not. They were very dense.” (He did, however, love reading “The Hobbit.”)
Yet in an ironic twist of fate, del Toro was briefly set to direct the adaptation of “The Hobbit,” prompting some to wonder why on Middle-earth the director would agree to that. Knowing what del Toro had previously said, and that the films would require a huge time commitment, this decision seemed like a mistake to many audiences.
Guillermo del Toro’s films are amazing in their own right. However, asking him to change his style to match Tolkien or Peter Jackson would be like asking Taikia Waititi to direct a moody superhero movie in the vein of “The Batman” instead of funny and subversive films like “Thor: Ragnarok.” It wouldn’t have played to his strengths. So maybe it’s for the best that del Toro left the project.