Guillermo del Toro Talks the Status of CRIMSON PEAK, PAN’S LABRYNTH on Criterion, and Making THE STRAIN Idiosyncratic

     July 11, 2014


As you may have noticed from our recent news that Guillermo del Toro is directing a small-scale black and white film before Pacific Rim 2, considering releasing two cuts of At the Mountains of Madness, and dropped details regarding the Pacific Rim animated series, Steve recently had a revealing conversation with the filmmaker about his upcoming projects.  There’s plenty to unpack from the interview, and so today we’d like to share what he had to say about the current status of his next film, Crimson Peak, whether Pan’s Labyrinth will be coming to Criterion, and how much creative freedom he was given by FX to make his new TV series The Strain.  Highlights include the revelation that Crimson Peak only has one deleted scene, a bit of insight into his production process, and the evolving creative procedure in making The Strain.  Read on after the jump.

guillermo-del-toro-crimson-peakDel Toro most recently wrapped filming on his next film, Crimson Peak.  The pic has been described as a classical gothic romance ghost story and stars Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Mia Wasikowska.  Del Toro has normally kept to more colorful stories for his English-language pics and tackled heavier subject matter in Spanish, so Crimson Peak marks a significant “first” for the filmmaker:

“It’s the first time I tackle, on film, an adult subject in a way that is not based on a property or comic book/animation type of arena.  Mimic was such a shocking experience that I made a decision back then in 1997 to do the sort of more auteristic, harder-to-pin movies in Spanish and do the big pop spectacles in English.  It was finding a home at Legendary and being supported by Universal—Donna Langley was a big champion of Crimson Peak—that gave me the courage to try to bring those sort of adult tools to an English-language studio film.  It is, by comparison with Hellboy or Pacific RimCrimson is a smaller movie, but it’s very, very personal.  So it’s something I haven’t tried before and I’m very proud of it and happy.”

pacific-rim-guillermo-del-toro-charlie-hunnamWhile he’s set to head into pre-production on Pacific Rim 2 next month, del Toro says Crimson Peak is already in fine shape despite the fact that it doesn’t open until October 2015:

“I just finished my director’s cut, which is very, very quick six weeks after wrapping because I basically cut while I shoot.  I’m very close to the final cut.  I’m doing a temp mix at Skywalker Sound to show the movie from beginning to end to the studio, Universal and Legendary.  They’ve both seen the movie in pieces, in long, long fragments, but they haven’t seen it beginning to end.  We have temp effects for basically almost everything, because again I process VFX while I shoot.  I’m extremely, extremely happy with the movie.”

The filmmaker told Steve that there’s only one deleted scene from the entire film, delving a bit into his multi-tasking directorial process:

“I think that the total deleted scenes is one.  Well two, in a way; the tail end of one scene and a whole scene.  The rest is shaving because the reason I cut every day during the shoot is because that way I calibrate that the movie doesn’t get too long or too short.  I think that you need to land under or around the low, low end of two hours in a movie.  It’s so difficult for me to sit through movies that are two hours and fifty minutes, or things like that, and I really am very conscious of that.  I was calibrating while we shot, so if I need to go faster I target scenes that can go faster.  And if I need to go slower, I calibrate scenes that allow me to go slower.”

pans-labyrinthWhile del Toro’s excellent films The Devil’s Backbone and Cronos both recently received Criterion Collection releases, many have been eager to see his masterful Pan’s Labyrinth get the Criterion treatment.  The filmmaker says wheels are in motion for a Pan’s Labyrinth Criterion, but it comes down to the negotiation process between the studios:

“You know we definitely have had that conversation with Criterion.  They found a really good response to Devil’s Advocate and Cronos.  It’s all in the hands of them being able to strike a deal with New Line and Warners for the film, but I would love nothing more than having that.  That would complete the Spanish-language trilogy so far (laughs).”

Del Toro dives into the television arena this weekend with the premiere of The Strain on FX, adapted from his trilogy of novels co-written with Chuck Hogan.  As he co-wrote and directed the pilot and oversaw the writing of the rest of the first season, the filmmaker said that the network was incredibly encouraging with regards to making the show his own:

“I got a call from the head of FX, John Landgraf, and he said, ‘Look I want you to know that we encourage creator content.  I want you to know that we are delighted that you are here.  Not just because you’ve made Hollywood movies, but because of your more quirky idiosyncratic ones.  I urge you to be as idiosyncratic and as personal as you want in your handling of the pilot and the series.’  And that’s when I went ahead and felt free.  There were no afterthought phone calls.  They were very, very pleased.  Because among the moments of brutality I made sure the series had huge production value.  I wanted the series to feel big and daring in the scope of the pilot because you are trying to establish a big world.  We fluctuate in the first season between big scope things and small things.  I think the series, the idea for me is you can see how a family spends time together.  If they destroy each other or redeem each other.  We have scenes with dozes and dozens of vampires and I’ve enjoyed that.”

corey-stoll-the-strainThough most shows get a couple of scripts written before the season begins production, del Toro and his team wrote the entirety of The Strain season one before they shot the pilot.  Aside from Game of Thrones, very, very few other shows do this, so Steve asked if that process might continue with season two:

“We knew we needed to map out the season and when we opened the writer’s room, Chuck [Hogan] and myself were there to map out the season.  We had a very long pre-production, I had to supervise the sculpting of every single make-up effect in the series to keep it under budget, I had to map out every aspect of the digital assets in order to keep the whole season in scope and under budget.  It was a creative decision and a purely practical one.   We would do it again with a lot more knowledge of where we needed to go.  There was a very beautiful learning curve on the first season.  It was incredibly useful for the actors and incredibly useful to ourselves.”

Though season one was entirely written, del Toro says there were still tweaks along the way as they got into production:

“We were rewriting constantly.  We were coming up with opening sequences for Episode 3 while we were shooting Episode 5.  We would come up with the middle of Episode 6 while shooting Episode 9.  I supervised every visual effect in the series.  I helped color timed very closely with each episodes.  We kept it moving.  I would shoot occasional second unit on Saturdays for the episodes.  It was very useful to not have the burden of planning out the next week.”

The Strain kicks off on Sunday, July 13th on FX, so we’ll be able to see how the show shapes up then.