Guillermo del Toro Provides Nightmare Alley and Pinocchio Updates

Director Guillermo del Toro is one of the busiest filmmakers in Hollywood. If he’s not behind the camera directing, he’s usually writing away in his notebook or producing a film from the next big name in horror. But right now, he’s stuck at home waiting for Hollywood to let him get back to work.

On the bright side, that means Guillermo del Toro had the time provide a status update on his psychological thriller Nightmare Alley, which Fox Searchlight had in production when the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States. There’s also some news on shooting resuming for the stop-motion animated Pinocchio he’s directing. For both of the projects, del Toro is taking a vested interest in keeping his crews safe with extensive safety protocols that he wrote himself for when production resumes.

Guillermo del Toro recently had a chat with IndieWire about where the filmmaker’s projects stand in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The director was shooting Nightmare Alley with Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett when COVID-19 started spreading rapidly across the United States. But rather than wait to get shut down by Disney (who owns Fox Searchlight), del Toro asked the studio to let them stop filming one week before the official order came down for all productions to cease. The director recalled:

“We reacted super fast, we proposed the studio to stop as opposed to being asked to stop. That saved us. Nobody to my knowledge in the cast or the crew got coronavirus. We were roughly 45% in. We were literally in the middle of a great scene. We went to lunch and talked to the studio and when we came back we said, ‘Everybody leave your tools and leave now.'”

Nightmare Alley is based on William Lindsey Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, and it follows Bradley Cooper as a carnival worker who becomes a skilled mentalist/spiritualist and teams up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) to trick rich people people into giving them money. But as he falls for this woman, she becomes far more dangerous than he could ever imagine.

The rest of the impressive cast includes Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, David Strathairn, Holt McCallany, Mary Steenburgen and more. The hope is that they will all be back to work in the fall, but that all depends on how the surge in COVID-19 cases is handled over the next couple months.

In the meantime, del Toro has been editing what’s already been shot for Nightmare Alley. But he’s also been keeping busy with the stop-motion animated take on Pinocchio that he’s somehow directing at the same time.

While most animated productions have been able to continue working from home, Guillermo del Toro’s new twisted take on the classic fairytale of Pinocchio isn’t so lucky. Since it’s a stop-motion animated production, it requires the crew to be on sets as they shoot the film frame by frame. However, it sounds like the movie will get back to work sooner than other productions waiting in the wings to resume filming. Del Toro explained how they’ve reconfigured their sets to ensure the safety of the animators:

“In stop-motion, you have many sets nearby one another in a warehouse like space. You can have 10 sets in one space. We had to create a protocol where we now space the sets a certain number of feet. We created different shifts, so no one is exposed.”

Currently, del Toro has been working on recording dialogue for Pinocchio, which is the one aspect of production that can easily be done without crew members being in the same room with each other.

Guillermo del Toro

But soon enough, del Toro is hoping to be on set shooting again. However, he’s not being hasty about it. Feeling a responsibility to his cast and crew, the filmmaker took is upon himself to create 80-page documents that ensure safety protocols are in place in order to squash the potential spread of COVID-19. The filmmaker said:

“In this moment, security is paramount. Health, safety is the number one concert. We got to get used to it.”

For more from del Toro, you can watch the full video interview over at IndieWire.

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