‘Pacific Rim’ director Guillermo del Toro on shooting in Toronto and his future in Canada

Wide Screen

As is increasingly becoming the trend in Hollywood, one of 2013’s biggest movies – “Pacific Rim” – wasn’t shot on a Los Angeles soundstage, but right here in the Great White North.

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming sci-fi grudge match “Pacific Rim” may feature giant aliens and enormous robots battling it out in cities around the world, but all the action really took place in the streets and studios of Toronto. The Ontario capital’s avenues stood in for places like Hong Kong and Tokyo, while the city’s massive 250,000-square-foot Pinewood Studio played host to huge sets that included gargantuan robot heads and feet, the insides of a building-sized extraterrestrial, and the film’s mega-mech hanger known as the Shatterdome.

“We entirely occupied Pinewood Studios for about a year -- and we spilled over to another two studios,” del Toro told Yahoo! Movies Canada. “We built and demolished four blocks of Hong Kong. Literally built them and then demolished them.”

The “Pan’s Labyrinth” director has had a long and successful history with Canada’s largest city, directing or producing several films in Toronto over the years, including “Mimic,” “Blade II,” “Mama,” and now “Pacific Rim.” For the latter project – by far the director’s biggest and most ambitious to date – del Toro was thankful to be working with his Hogtown movie crew.

“Toronto has the best crews in the world,” the filmmaker said without hesitation. “I love Toronto, I love it with a passion. I love the cinematheque, I love the bookstores, I love the restaurants, I love the people, and above everything else I love the crews.”

The director became a familiar fixture in the Toronto film scene during "Pacific Rim's" lengthy shoot, appearing for a Q&A at a screening of "Mimic" and hosting a series of talks on legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Not only did del Toro make Toronto his home while shooting (he said he maintains two residences in the city), but the Mexican filmmaker revealed that he intends to spend a lot more time there in the future.

"I plan to continue shooting in Toronto for as long as I can," del Toro announced, "and I would very much like to become Canadian one day."

One of Hollywood's most creative and inspiring filmmakers wanting to become a Canadian? Welcome home, Guillermo!

"Pacific Rim" storms into theatres on July 12.