Guillermo del Toro is the current favourite to win the Best Director Oscar at this year's Academy Award. Should we add that win to his Golden Globe and Bafta wins, his legacy as one of the modern greats will be assured.

If one thing defines del Toro, it's his affinity for monsters and the supernatural. From big studios movies like Blade 2 and Pacific Rim to instant classic Pan's Labyrinth, del Toro has always indulged his vivid and twisted imagination.

In his latest, awards season favourite The Shape of Water, del Toro has put his twist on a romantic tale about two broken and abused beings.

What makes the director tick though? That's what The Sun asked del Toro about during an interview published today (27 February). Turns out, it's a string of strange occurrences growing up.

"Most of the people I know in Mexico have had extraordinary experiences with ghosts or aberrations and we discuss them in a very natural way," the 53-year-old said. "I heard a ghost, twice.

"My father talks about flying saucers coming out from the water at sea in the Sixties and Seventies and going into a mothership."

"I'm a sceptic but I saw a UFO at age 16, for sure. It was a flying saucer with lights, a circle. A friend and I were on a highway and we saw a light on the horizon moving super-fast. The thing went from there to 1,000 yards away in less than a second.

"It was exactly as they do it in the movies. We got scared, very scared, jumped in the car and drove away. It followed us for a few seconds and then I looked back and it was gone."

These occurrences led to a fascination with the strange and occult, and also a couple of attempts by Del Toro's grandmother to drive out the evil spirits she believed he harboured.

"My parents were going through the Sixties, they were out a lot. I was basically raised by [my grandmother]. She was very scary but she loved me. She exorcised me twice with holy water, literally. The more holy water she threw at me, the more ridiculous I thought it was."

Del Toro's awards season success has been a crowning moment of a 32-year-old career that's included the aforementioned films, as well as Hellboy, Crimson Peak, Mimic and The Devil's Backbone.

In addition to its Best Director nomination at the Oscars this weekend (Sunday 4 March), The Shape of Water has also been nominated in 12 categories including Best Picture, Best Actress for Sally Hawins, Best Supporting Actor for Richard Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay.

'The Shape Of Water' Trailer 2
Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones as the Amphibious Man in The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight