Director Guillermo del Toro freely admits he’s a geek for all things sci-fi and supernatural, so he wholeheartedly jumped at the chance to smush two of his favorite Japanese sub-genres — mecha (huge robots, machines or human-piloted suits of armor) and kaiju (giant monsters) — into one super-sized summer blockbuster hopeful: Pacific Rim.

“No one has done it before and that was what first attracted me because I’m a big fan of both these very traditional [Eastern] genres,” Del Toro told EW on the black carpet at the film’s U.S. premiere Tuesday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. “This movie represents as much of me as a small adult movie like Pan’s Labyrinth does. They represent two sides of me, but they are both absolutely sincere and full of love. [Robots] and [monsters] are like vanilla and chocolate. You can’t pick which is better. I had a chance to do a giant poem to both of them, so win-win for me.”

The film’s stars also found it impossible to definitively decide whether the menagerie of dino-like aliens or the fleet of epic war machines called Jaegers were cooler. “The movie is way more fun than you can even imagine, because these monsters are formidable and these robots are like a World Cup team,” frequent Del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman explained. “Just when you think you understand [the monsters’] skill set in terms of how dangerous they are, they adapt and reinvent themselves. They are a nightmare of an enemy. But then Guillermo made the team of Jaegers that are kind of like the 1927 Yankees. Each of them has their own personality and swagger and none of them tolerate losing.”

The cast all marveled at the seemingly endless array of badass beasts dreamt up for the Warner Bros. film that now join the annals of movie monster history. It seemed like the perfect time to ask who gets their vote for greatest movie monster of all time.

Idris Elba: “Jabba the Hutt. That’s a gangsta right there. What a name!”

Charlie Hunnam: “My favorite movie monster of all time is probably Audrey Two in Little Shop of Horrors.”

Ron Perlman: “Hellboy. Did I take too long to answer that question?”

Guillermo del Toro: “Look, there is a whole room in my house dedicated to Kaiju so it is hard for me to pick. It would be a toss between Godzilla and Gamera. They are my two favorites of the well-known ones, but there is a myriad of great Kaiju from the Tsuburaya TV series like Ultra Q, Ultraman and Ultra Seven. There is one that is called Pigmon that is amazing.”

Rob Kazinsky: “Nosferatu, the original bad guy monster. That bald head, the pointy ears and the white makeup have been terrifying generations and everything else has been kind of based on that since then.”

Clifton Collins Jr.: “There’s just too many. You gotta understand that I’m a fan of films so that is almost like picking a favorite child. It’s just not right. There are so many monsters I love for different reasons. Maybe The Thing. The [aliens] from the old War of the Worlds and the new one. And then you’ve got Jaws, which was a different real kind of monster. And then Pan’s Labyrinth and all its mythological beings. Guillermo Del Toro’s mind is really fascinating.”

Max Martini: “The aliens from the Alien series blew me away. Those extending jaws still get me.”

Charlie Day: “That’s tough. That is a real hard one to peg down. There’s a lot, like the shark in Jaws or Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”

Pacific Rim opens in theaters nationwide on July 11.

Pacific Rim
  • Movie
  • 131 minutes