Ambitious

07.17.14

Guillermo del Toro on Hardcore Gothic ‘Crimson Peak’ and ‘Pacific Rim 2’

The inventive director reveals the reason he dropped out of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and why he’s so proud of his first English adult narrative.

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most inventive directors around. He’s also one of the most, shall we say, ambitious. Among the movies he’s said in recent years that he would direct: Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Pinocchio, a big-screen version of Disney’s The Haunted Mansion ride, the DC Comics team-up Dark Universe, and an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s legendary epic At the Mountains of Madness. Some of these projects have fallen by the wayside; others may still be in the works. It’s hard to tell.

Thankfully, at the end of our conversation earlier this week about his new FX vampire series The Strain, Del Toro revealed (in new detail) what to expect from him in 2015 and beyond—and what not to expect. 

Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast falls into the latter category; del Toro dropped out last month. But while that was a disappointment, his reason for jumping ship sounds very promising: he wanted to perfect his new “Gothic thriller” Crimson Peak (out October 2015) instead. “I am probably the proudest of this movie of anything that I’ve ever done,” he explained. 

In addition, del Toro provided updates on the progress of Dark Universe, The Haunted Mansion, and even At the Mountains of Madness—which could still be made, he said, despite reports to the contrary. He dropped a few hints about the “small,” “idiosyncratic” black-and-white movie that he will shoot after he finishes Crimson Peak.

Last month you dropped out of Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which you were set to direct. Why?

They have a deadline to meet with the project that completely intersects with my delivery of Crimson Peak. And Crimson Peak I cannot rush. I am probably the proudest of this movie of anything that I’ve ever done. I want to be very meticulous.

Why are you so proud of Crimson Peak?

It’s the first time I’ve done an adult narrative in English. By this I mean more similar to my European stuff. More sedate, a lot more minute, meditative and deep. I’m having a blast doing it, and I could not precipitate the postproduction. Normally I’m able to juggle things because they don’t intersect, but this one intersected pretty badly.

What stage is the movie at right now, and what else can you reveal about it?

I am mixing for one of the first screenings now. The movie doesn’t come out until October 2015, so I still have a ways to go. But I think that people will find a lot of new stuff that I have not done in the past, combined with things that I really enjoy. It’s very hard to describe. All I can say is that it’s a hardcore Gothic tale. More than anything else, it’s a Gothic thriller.

“More than 60 percent of it is set in a crumbling mansion in England. It is truly, truly full of fear and romance and suspense.”

“Gothic” as in, like a Gothic novel?

Absolutely. It’s set at the turn of the century. More than 60 percent of it is set in a crumbling mansion in England. It is truly, truly full of fear and romance and suspense. And it’s very, very much character-oriented.

What comes after Crimson Peak?

I’m doing a very small movie in February. A movie that is very, very idiosyncratic. Self-produced. Very tiny. Black and white.

Wow. What’s it called?

I’d rather just leave it at that right now. It’ll be a very special small movie.

How about Pacific Rim 2?

I go full swing into pre-production on Pacific Rim 2 starting in May 2015. Then we shoot Pacific Rim December 2015 all the way to the middle of 2016 to be ready for release April 2017.

Is the script written?

[Screenwriter] Zak Penn and I are hard at work.

It’s safe to assume that the Kaiju were not completely defeated the first time around, then?

I will leave that answer to your imagination. But I think that Zak and I came up with something that a) makes sense and b) makes it more exciting. In the first movie, we were so busy world-building that we basically needed to squeeze story and character into a world-building exercise. It was really, really crammed. Now that the world is set, it gives us some leeway to have fun with the story and characters. And I think the idea that Zak and myself came up with is very… interesting. [Laughs]

Will we ever see Dark Universe? What about your adaptations of The Haunted Mansion and H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness?

The other stuff is all progressing: we started the script on Dark Universe, doing a new draft on Haunted Mansion. Everything is moving, but these are the realities. My hope is that the sequel to Pacific Rim does well so I can encourage…We all seem to be very, very keen to try to revive Mountains.