Fans of writer-director Guillermo del Toro and his movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim have come to expect something dark and slightly twisted. His next original offering, the mysterious gothic horror story Crimson Peak (which hits theaters on October 16, 2015) looks like it won’t disappoint. Back in March, Yahoo Movies visited the Toronto set of the Legendary-Universal co-production where we spoke at length with del Toro about the project while he took us on a tour of the film’s central (and very spooky) haunted house set.
Set in the early 1900s, Crimson Peak revolves around an idealistic young woman Edith (Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska) who is caught up in a family tragedy and romanced by two very different men: trusted childhood friend Alan McMichael (Pacific Rim's Charlie Hunnam) and intriguing outsider Sir Thomas Sharpe (The Avengers' Tom Hiddleston).
Judging from what we observed on set, it’s a story with the potential to be both haunting and romantic; a dark fairy tale with some kinky intrigue. Read on to learn more about the project and how del Toro’s relationship with Legendary and Universal could lead to a new Frankenstein movie someday.
How much of this is what you envisioned when you were writing the script, and how much evolution took place later?
Guillermo del Toro: When we were writing it in 2006, there was an intention of doing this as a smaller movie on a found building. I really wanted the house to be a character. The idea of the house was in the script, but the evolution of the design was six months into it. It’s very different from what the screenplay described. We have an operating elevator in the house that goes through the three stories. No green screen. I didn’t want to use digital, I wanted the movie to feel hand made.
On the set of Pacific Rim, you said you were excited to be making a robot movie. What excites you about this one?
Del Toro: For those that know me a little better or have visited [his own house] Bleak House, I’m a Victorian nut about gothic romance. I haven’t had a chance to do that at all.
You mentioned a kink factor, would you say that this is your most sexual movie?
Del Toro: Well, the bar is very low there. [Laughs] Like Pedro Almodóvar said to me once, “You can kill people, but you can’t have two people f—-.” I don’t know how to not sound like a dirty old man, but it’s fun. It’s not by any means a Nymphomaniac with ghosts. [Laughs] There’s very tame content for anyone’s standards, but for me, it’s a big deal.
How would you classify the horror in this? Are we going to see gore and jump scares?
Del Toro: There’s a couple of strong moments that are very, very graphic, but they are done just to punctuate, you know? I remember when I showed Pan’s Labyrinth in the beginning, somebody said to me, “You know, the movie would make much more money without the bottle scene.” And I said, “Yeah, but it wouldn’t be the same movie.” So this is punctuated a little like that. Like, there are about three or four moments that’ll have you go, “Ooh! That’s nice. That’s brutally nice.”
Tom Hiddleston has a very active young female fan base. How are they going to react to his character?
Del Toro: I think they will like him no matter what he does. [Laughs] My daughters could see him grinding puppies, they’d be like, “Oh, he’s so sweet! He grinds them so carefully.”
You obviously have a lot of passion for classic movie monsters. Have you ever thought about directing a Universal monster movie?
Del Toro: Yeah, I would love to think like that, but I don’t have that long range plan yet. I would love to do Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein for sure, but it really, I’ve been really, really, afraid. [Universal chairman] Donna Langley has approached me a few times and I’m always like, ‘You know, it’s like the dream project, so I’m a chicken s—-,’ you know? If I do Frankenstein, I literally would stop everything, and I’m going to a sabbatical of three years, just to write that. It’s not something that’s going to just flow, like second nature. It’s my favorite book in history.
Photo credit: @Legendary/Universal