Over 35 Things to Know About CRIMSON PEAK From Our On-Set Interview with Guillermo del Toro

     July 17, 2014


When Guillermo del Toro announced he would follow up Pacific Rim by making a gothic horror story, I was ecstatic.  While I love his big budget Hollywood movies, I also love his smaller films, where he can explore interesting characters against the backdrop of something unusual.  In next year’s Crimson Peak, produced by Legendary and Universal and starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica ChastainTom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam, del Toro uses his unique sensibilities to tell a gothic romance that features odd characters, ghosts, and a house that I’d never want to live in.

Last year when del Toro was filming Crimson Peak in Toronto, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters.  With Comic-Con next week and del Toro beginning to promote the film in San Diego, Legendary and Universal are lifting part of my set visit embargo by letting us post our massive on-set interview with del Toro.  Since many of you might not have the time to read over ten thousand words, I’ve taken a few of the highlights and created a list of over 35 things to know about the film.  Hit the jump to check it out.

Before going any further, here’s the official synopsis:

“In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider.  Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes and remembers.”

35 Things to Know About Crimson Peak:

  • The film is very personal for del Toro and was made with a profound reverence for the gothic romance genre and its literary roots. Del Toro cites Jane Eyre and Rebecca as tonal influences.
  • Guillermo-del-Toro-Crimson-Peak-set-imagedel Toro says while it’s not guaranteed, he thinks Crimson Peak will be rated R. He describes it as “kinky and violent.”
  • One of the love stories is someone falling for a tragic figure, while another involves a suitor played by Charlie Hunnam.
  • The film tells the story of a family that wants to keep their house alive, a house they inherited.
  • The ghosts in the film were created in camera, meaning they used actual people instead of CGI.
  • Doug Jones and Javier Botet play a couple of the ghosts, and by creating them in camera, it gave the other actors a physical presence to work with.
  • del Toro had a massive chandelier built for the house that took three or four months to create. When the studio said it would cost too much, del Toro agreed to pay half the cost so he gets to keep it.
  • The practical house is three stories tall and has a working elevator. Del Toro refused to use a green screen elevator and wanted each level of the house to have a different feel.
  • Visually, del Toro wanted the film to look like a Mario Bava Technicolor movie.
  • There are a lot of butterfly and moth motifs throughout the film.
  • Some of the furniture was made in different sizes so that when a character goes weak, the furniture grows, and when a character grows stronger, the furniture shrinks.
  • guillermo-del-toro-crimson-peakThough the house was built in its entirety, unfortunately it had to be torn down at the end of the shoot in order to make space in the studio.
  • del Toro initially wrote the screenplay in 2006, and the reaction was to shoot the film in an existing house. Del Toro said he would produce that version, but he would only direct if they could build a house from the ground up because it was an important character in the story.
  • Everything in the house was made for the house. Nothing was reused from salvaged parts.
  • del Toro wrote 10-page character biographies for all of the actors, gave them to them, and told them to keep them secret. Hunnam had already written his own character bio, and the only thing del Toro said “no” to was his character smoking a pipe.
  • The shooting schedule for Crimson Peak was 68 days, which is significantly shorter than del Toro’s other recent films (Pacific Rim was 100, Hellboy was 135).
  • Most of the effects in the film are practical.
  • Universal wants to release the film around Halloween, and since he wouldn’t finish the film until December 2014 or January 2015, the release date had to be set for October 2015.
  • Fernando Velázquez, who composed the score for Mama and The Orphanage, will be doing the music for Crimson Peak.
  • crimson-peak-guillermo-del-toro-2del Toro sent Jessica Chastain the script without telling her which part he thought she would play, but everyone assumed she would choose Edith. Consequently, she came back and said she wanted to play Lucille, the antagonist.
  • Though Benedict Cumberbatch and Emma Stone were initially cast, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska were del Toro’s next choices for those roles, respectively.
  • Tom Hiddleston signed on within 72 hours of Cumberbatch dropping out of the film.
  • del Toro did some slight rewrites on the script after Hiddleston and Wasikowska were cast.
  • Wasikowska and Hunnam are playing the American characters in the film.
  • The film takes place in Buffalo, New York. Del Toro wanted to tell the story of a family that had made themselves instead of inheriting their fortune as part of an aristocracy.
  • The family has a recurring relationship with guilt, religion, and sex.
  • del Toro would love to post-convert the film to 3D if he is given the time to do it, but a decision hasn’t been made yet.
  • The film was shot digitally.
  • del Toro wrote 11 or 12 versions of the film before settling on the final draft. He was coming up with new scenes during production.
  • There’s a lack of the color crimson on the set, but del Toro says you will see “a shitload of crimson” in the movie.
  • del Toro describes Hunnam and Wasikowska’s brother and sister characters as “gold” and “drops of sunshine” in the movie.
  • del Toro says this is the best set he’s ever worked on.  His second favorite is the train station in Mimic.
  • pacific-rim-guillermo-del-toro-max-martini-rob-kazinskyAs the synopsis says, the house is alive.  Here’s part of what del Toro told us about the house, “The house is full of little quirks, but some of them are spoilery to reveal. The house breathes. When it’s hit by a certain wind the chimney – you saw it on the shot, the chimney goes whoosh so it’s really creepy.”  He said a lot more but I can’t post it yet.  Filled with spoilers.
  • del Toro doesn’t allow cell  phones on the set.  If you’re caught using one you pay a $5 fine and at the end of the week they raffle the money (after del Toro has added $500 to help beef up the amount).
  • del Toro says there are a few “very, very graphic” scenes in the film and they’re done “just to punctuate.”  He went on to say, “there are about three or four moments that’ll have you go, ‘Ooh! That’s nice. That’s brutally nice.”
  • del Toro edits the movie as he shoots to make sure he doesn’t miss a shot.  He explained that it starts on Mimic:

“Back in Mimic it was survival. You know, like, literally I needed to be up to date. In my mind I will learn to escape with the tapes [laughs], in case it was needed, but it stayed with me since Mimic and what is weird is I get the cast and every morning I ask Jessica, Tom, Mia, Charlie, I say, ‘Do you wanna see what we did last night?’ And I play it for them in the morning. And they know and they calibrate a little bit. They go, ‘Oh, I did this. I didn’t do that.’ If they find a take that I used that they don’t like, I say, ‘Come to the editing room and tell me which take you prefer.’ And we try it out and if it works – so it’s a really great dynamic. It creates a great dynamic and it also allows me to go, ‘I don’t need to shoot this scene anymore because I got it here,’ you know? It’s really useful.”


When Legendary and Universal lift the full Crimson Peak embargo, you can expect a lot more information about the film.  Until then you can read this:


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