Guillermo Del Toro says Ron Perlman is his ''good luck charm''.

The 50-year-old director has worked with the actor on several occasions - most famously on the 'Hellboy' films - and cast him as Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, in his new animated movie 'The Book of Life'.

Guillermo - who produced the film - insists Ron is one of his favourite actors to work with because the 64-year-old actor inspires his work.

Speaking to ShortList magazine, he said: ''I cast Ron (in 'The Book of Life') simply because he can do anything. I've worked with him repeatedly, and he's almost a good luck charm to me. He gets cast as these heavies, but he can do comedy so well. I thought he was perfect for Xibalba. Ron is so good at that blend of charm and creepiness. I'm a better writer when I write for him.''

Guillermo wanted to make 'The Book of Life' - which also features Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube voicing characters - to introduce some of his home country Mexico's lesser known folklore to an international audience.

He said: ''In 'The Book of Life', I wanted to show the Mexico that isn't out of a tourist guide, but has the explosion of light and sound you get when you go to the country. There's an incredibly rich folklore that's not explored often in cinema - we have two supernatural characters in the film that embody it. One is La Muerte, a personification of death, and the other is Xibalba, inspired by the idea of hell in southern Mexico that's survived from Mayan times. It's fascinating how the old magical ideas of death and the afterlife were merged with the influence of Spanish Catholicism.''