nightmare alley cast

Carol fans, time to celebrate. Rooney Mara is reuniting with Cate Blanchett in Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro‘s first directorial feature since his Oscar-winning The Shape of Water. Mara is the latest to join the Nightmare Alley cast, which already includes Blanchett and Bradley Cooper.

Deadline broke the news that Rooney Mara is set to star opposite Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett in Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro’s next directorial feature. The film is based on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, which follows a con-man who teams up with a female psychiatrist to scam people out of their money in the seedy underbelly of carnival life. Mara is set to play Molly, a woman whom Cooper’s corrupt con-man falls in love with.

Mara had been reported as being in talks for the role since last month, but is now confirmed to star in the film. Joining Nightmare Alley reunites her with Carol co-star Cate Blanchett, who was reportedly in talks to play Stan’s psychologist, a character that may be something of a con artist herself. Other actors set to round out the cast are Toni ColletteRichard JenkinsWillem Dafoe, and Michael Shannon.

Del Toro’s film isn’t the first adaptation of Nightmare Alley. A 1947 noir directed by Edmund Goulding starred Tyrone Power and Coleen Gray, though del Toro has said that he was taken with the book before he saw the first film. Del Toro has called the film “the first chance I have to do a real ‘underbelly of society’ type of movie. [There are] no supernatural elements. Just a straight, really dark story.”

Here’s the book’s synopsis:

Nightmare Alley begins with an extraordinary description of a freak-show geek—alcoholic and abject and the object of the voyeuristic crowd’s gleeful disgust and derision—going about his work at a county fair. Young Stan Carlisle is working as a carny, and he wonders how a man could fall so low. There’s no way in hell, he vows, that anything like that will ever happen to him.

And since Stan is clever and ambitious and not without a useful streak of ruthlessness, soon enough he’s going places. Onstage he plays the mentalist with a cute bimbo (before long his harried wife), then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan’s for the taking. At least for now.

Del Toro wrote the script with Kim Morgan, and is producing the film along with J. Miles Dale with TSG Entertainment, with Fox Searchlight acquiring worldwide distribution rights.

No release date has yet been set for Nightmare Alley.

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