For a director with such a distinctive and influential visual style, Guillermo del Toro’s filmography is not as extensive as you might think, but it could have been much larger were he not so selective about the jobs he takes on.
In an interview with IndieWire, he revealed that he’s been offered an extensive range of projects, the meetings for some of which went better than others.
“I’ve been offered, from the largest superhero franchise to Seed of Chucky. I’ll tell you one of the worst pitch meetings I’ve ever had. It was for The Fly II. And it was super early in my career, it was ‘92 or something like that. I get in and I sit down and they say, ‘What do you think about The Fly II?’ and I said, ‘I think you shouldn’t make it.’ And they said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because the first one was so great.’ And that was it. They validated my parking.”
He went on to state:
“I know one thing: from the beginning of my work, I know that I will only take movies that I’m willing to die on the set for. I take them very seriously. Doesn’t matter if it’s a giant robot or an action movie. There’s a reason for me to take it, a personal reason. Nobody has to agree. I’m not running for office. I just go at it and I say, ‘This is what I want, this is what I got,’ and that’s when I say a movie is successful or not. Did it achieve what I wanted?”
It’s possible del Toro is misremembering dates, as The Fly II was released in 1989, a time when his directorial output consisted of a couple of shorts and some episodes of a Mexican horror anthology TV show, so the producers of the sequel presumably recognized the potential in such straightforward work that he would go on to display right from his 1993 debut feature of the simple yet sublime vampire tale Cronos. As far as wholly unnecessary sequels to iconic movies go, The Fly II is actually a fairly decent film, and it’s faintly ironic that del Toro would go on to make his inauspicious and studio-meddled Hollywood entrance with Mimic, a horror also about giant humanoid insects.
Seed of Chucky, meanwhile, was released in 2004, meaning that had he taken that job then he might never have got around to making Hellboy, the film with which his reputation as a master creator of nightmarish creatures and chronicler of the sorrow of monsters was cemented.
His current workload consists of a new adaptation of Nightmare Alley, a noir thriller about con artists at a sleazy carnival, and a stop-motion musical retelling of Pinocchio set in 1930s Fascist Italy. In addition, just yesterday he revealed that his long-gestating dream of adapting H.P. Lovecraft’s seminal tale At the Mountains of Madness is very much alive, and if there’s anyone who can bring into a visual medium godlike otherworldly entities so unfathomably hideous that merely observing them is enough to drive a person insane, it’s Guillermo del Toro.