Guillermo del Toro says 'The Shape of Water' is his best film, but it was 'terrible' to make

Good luck trying to name director Guillermo del Toro’s best work from a filmography that includes Cronos (1993), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2003), and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). But his longtime friend Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant), who along with del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men) makes up the so-called Three Amigos, doesn’t hesitate when asked; he thinks it’s del Toro’s new film, the sci-fi fairy tale The Shape of Water, that takes the cake.

So what does del Toro say to that? “In our long and historied friendship, it’s one of the instances which I will agree with him,” the filmmaker laughed as we talked to him at the Governors Awards (watch above).

“Because I actually love it that much. I mean, it’s fortunate when the last movie you made is the one you love the most. It doesn’t happen every time. In this instance, it is. I think it’s the most moving, the most fun, the most human [film] I’ve made. Every single step [in] my 25-year career has brought me to this.”

The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) as Elisa Esposito, a cleaning woman at a secret government lab in 1950s Baltimore who strikes up an unlikely romance with the aquatic creature, or “asset” (played by longtime del Toro collaborator Doug Jones), that is the facility’s newest specimen.

While he’s thrilled with the results, the process was not easy for del Toro. “It was a terrible filmmaking experience,” he offered candidly. “Very difficult, very difficult. We crammed $60 or $70 million of budget into a movie that had only $19.5 [million]. But we wanted it to look enormous. So it demanded huge sacrifices.

“It doesn’t show in the movie. The movie’s gorgeous, expansive, poetic. But making it was very, very hard.”

The Shape of Water opens Dec. 8.

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