Director Guillermo del Toro has always had a following and a fanbase, but he was finally recognized more widely in 2018 when he won the Best Film and Best Directing Oscars for his 2017 film, The Shape of Water. This was a beautifully imaginative film, and I was so happy that he won. He so deserved it. He has had a couple of animated series come out since then, but people are looking to his next feature films to see what he has in store since becoming an Academy Award winner.
Not to worry, as he is a very busy man, but like everyone else in Hollywood, has had a bit of a hold up since the current pandemic struck. But projects are beginning to slowly get back to the studio with new safety protocols in place, and del Toro offered up some updates on his latest projects.
In a recent interview with IndieWire, the director talked about his two upcoming projects, Nightmare Alley, and Pinocchio. Nightmare Alley was almost halfway through shooting on March 13th when Disney announced that the production was suspended. Del Toro said the decision to end early was actually his doing:
“We stopped the shoot a week before [the industry shut down]. We reacted super fast, we proposed the studio to stop as opposed to being asked to stop. That saved us. Nobody to my knowledge in the cast or the crew got coronavirus. We were roughly 45 percent in. We were literally in the middle of a great scene. We went to lunch and talked to the studio and when we came back we said, ‘Everybody leave your tools and leave now.’”
Nightmare Alley is an adaptation of the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Holt McCallany, Ron Perlman, Richard Jenkins, and David Strathairn. Here’s the synopsis:
“In Nightmare Alley, an ambitious young carny (Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is. The carnival cast includes carnival worker Molly (Mara), head barker Clem (Willem Dafoe), and Ron Perlman as Bruno the Strongman. Richard Jenkins is part of the high society crowd as wealthy industrialist Ezra Grindle.”
Del Toro said he “hopes to restart production on Nightmare Alley this fall,” although nothing is certain. The filmmaker added, “Fingers crossed. You never know.” At this point, you really don’t know what the upcoming weeks and months are going to bring. Hopefully numbers go down and things go back to normal, but while we wait to see, del Toro has gotten to work on his other project, Pinocchio.
This version of the classic tale is a much darker, non-family friendly stop-motion musical that he’s making with The Jim Henson Company for Netflix. The incredible voice cast includes David Bradley as Geppetto, Ron Perlman as Mangiafuoco, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, and the recently added Ewan McGregor as Jiminy Cricket. Though del Toro says he has more freedom with a much smaller crew on this film, he created an 80-page document for each production to ensure safety protocols are intact when cameras start rolling again. He said:
“In stop-motion, you have many sets nearby one another in a warehouse like space. You can have 10 sets in one space. We had to create a protocol where we now space the sets a certain number of feet. We created different shifts so no one is exposed. In this moment, security is paramount. Health, safety is the number one concert. We got to get used to it.”
In quarantine, del Toro has been editing Nightmare Alley and recording ADR for Pinocchio. So he has not been counting this time as vacation. He has been hard at work to get these films back on track. Nightmare Alley does not yet have a release date, and Pinocchio is set to hit Netflix sometime next year.
Which film are you most looking forward to?
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