Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro are Comic-Con rock stars, and at Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries panel on Thursday, they were greeted as such by the crowd in Hall H. Both have a long history at the Con: Favreau famously received a major boost of buzz here when he previewed footage of the first Iron Man, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance this year by holding the Cowboys and Aliens premiere in San Diego this Saturday. Del Toro — here this year to promote the horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which he produced, and to offer a preview of his monster movie Pacific Rim — has been a fanboy favorite for many years on the strength of feverishly imaginative genre films like The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy. But when they sat down with EW’s Jeff “Doc” Jensen, the two directors often sounded more like fanboys themselves as they talked about their inspirations, their creative processes, and their abiding love for monsters, aliens, and things that go bump in the night. Here were some highlights:

On their admiration for one another: “Often directors don’t hang together because we’re jealous a–holes,” Del Toro noted. But the two spoke of their friendship that has developed over the last several years, with Favreau calling Del Toro “an inspiration and a mentor and someone to commiserate with.”

“Especially about losing weight,” Del Toro cracked.

Favreau on skepticism about the premise of Cowboys and Aliens: “You hear, ‘I can’t believe they’re doing that! This is offensive to me…. Cowboys and aliens don’t fight each other. They didn’t exist at the same time! This is insulting! I can’t believe Hollywood is making a movie like this!’ Alien robots turn into trucks and that’s okay. They think that’s plausible. But you get James Bond and Indiana Jones fighting aliens and we’ve crossed a line there. I feel like all high concept movies are intrinsically ridiculous. That’s the whole idea of high concept: You’re taking a crazy situation and you’re bringing reality to it.”

Del Toro on his dream project, At the Mountains of Madness, an adaptation of a classic H.P. Lovecraft horror tale, which recently fell apart over budget concerns: “I hope [we can still make it]. I’ve been trying to do it for so many years. We were so close, and the incarnation we were going to do is so great, I don’t want to give up. Fortunately, we control the property … so we can try to keep it alive. I hope I make it. It’s one of those movies that’s a Holy Grail for me.”

Favreau on the overuse of CGI in current tentpole movies: “It’s lazy. Before you had CGI, you were forced to use other tools. If you saw Jaws right at the beginning of Jaws, you wouldn’t be scared of that movie. It’s the music, the cutting, the tension, the acting, the filmmaking that builds you to the point where you’re so tense that by the time you see that puppet come out of the water, you s— yourself…. Just because it’s easy to show it, doesn’t mean you should… I think that’s becoming more of a lost art.”

Del Toro on his reputation as a filmmaker: “I don’t think I’m a household name director. I think I’m an acquired taste. When I come here, it’s fantastic, but I don’t buy that illusion… I’m really a freak every place I go. I don’t quite fit in the independent scene, I don’t quite fit in the art scene, and I don’t fit in the Hollywood scene. I’m a weird, strange, fat motherf—er, and I plan to stay that way.”

Favreau on risk-taking: “Every day we take risks. If you’re in the safe zone, it gets boring. Jumping into a big-budget movie like Iron Man was a big risk, especially because I had just gotten my clock cleaned on Zathura pretty bad. It’s easy to be scared. But every time I’ve taken a risk, it’s paid off… Once you’ve learned to be comfortable with failure, there’s nothing that can be done to you… [Cowboys and Aliens] was not the safe move. But I figured I was in a position to do something different. Because as the movies get bigger, to be honest with you, they start to be the same. A lot of the movies this summer are versions of other things you’ve seen before. So I took a big risk.”

Del Toro on his next directorial project, Pacific Rim: “It’s the most fun I’ve had on a Hollywood movie ever. It almost should be illegal. We’re designing monsters all day long. Gigantic f—ing monsters. All day long.”

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