Origins: Guillermo del Toro

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The Hobbit director talks to TIME contributing nerd Gilbert Cruz about his creative influences.

Guillermo del Toro might be one of Hollywood’s ultimate horror film nerds. In a semi-homage to Forrest J. Ackerman (the godfather of all things genre), the director of Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II, and the Hellboy films purchased a second home in Los Angeles where he stores movie ephemera, monster models, and hundreds of books on fairy tales and vampires. Every morning while in California, he sends the kids off to school and heads to his second home to write and sketch. Guillermo del Toro spoke to TIME from New Zealand—where he is currently directing the upcoming two-film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit—about some of the films that have influenced his work. He’s as much fan as he is a writer/director—dude could have talked about this stuff for hours.