Guillermo Del Toro‘s eleventh feature film, Nightmare Alley, is a neo-noir period piece based on a 1946 novel by William Lindsey Gresham. Not only does the film have a very rich and detailed production design, but it also does a great job at capturing the classic film noir tone. Del Toro sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss all the challenges he faced while shooting the Best Picture-nominated film. He admitted one of the great challenges he faced was just getting the film made.
“It’s not the type of movie that is getting made that much anymore: a movie of great scope and ambition and a thematic, adult movie that is aiming to do a minute re-creation of a period, and in a genre or sub-genre that has never been in vogue for the past few decades. That’s why I chose to put all the chips from The Shape of Water and almost 30 years of career into making this movie.”
Del Toro goes on describe the logistical challenges he faced, which of course included COVID-19, which put a pause on production for six months. It’s clear through the praise from audiences and critics alike that Del Toro continues to cement himself as a master filmmaker. He spoke to approaching this film at this point in his career, saying:
“I wouldn’t have been able to execute it as a 30-something. As a director, I learned to listen to the movie in a more quiet way. Every morning, the movie presented problems to be solved, to keep it alive and cohesive and not an artifact. To make my camera not be impatient, but be elegant, in watching [Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett] circle each other. I do a structure, and in this case I made, to use an imperfect analogy, a mandala. I went into editing with an amazingly flexible piece of material, because I learned to watch the actors rather than dictate, listen to what we could do every day with the movie. … I started to find amazing solutions on the days of, which is normally not the way I work.”
The last film Del Toro directed was 2017’s Shape of Water, for which he won Best Director and Best Picture. Nightmare Alley competes for the Best Picture titles this Sunday on ABC. You can stream it now on Hulu and HBO Max.