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Guillermo del Toro talks post-Oscars pressure with 'Nightmare Alley'

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  • Guillermo del Toro
    Guillermo del Toro
    Mexican film director

Guillermo del Toro talks post-Oscars pressure with his latest film, Nightmare Alley, starring Bradley Cooper. He told Yahoo Entertainment, "I'm going to try something different rather than trying to repeat things."

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- I will ask you simple questions. You will answer, in short sentences, only what you believe to be absolute truth.

- Absolute truth? I can do that.

KEVIN POLOWY: "Nightmare Alley" is your feature film follow-up to "The Shape of Water," which of course won very big at the Oscars four years ago. What kind of unique pressure did that put on you, choosing your next act after that kind of triumph?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: You know, I don't think much-- quite the opposite. I said, I'm going to try something different rather than trying to repeat things, you know? So you know, when you do that, you lose expectations, you know? You go, I'm going to do this. Let's see how it goes.

And it's not-- noir is not a genre that is in vogue. But I felt it was going to be cinematic, and grand, and a spectacle, which I welcome on the big screen. I welcome seeing this type of movie and this type of spectacle and feel on the big screen. So hopefully, we chose right for the audience, and we chose right for the story. The rest is such a confluence of dominoes that you cannot anticipate.

KEVIN POLOWY: You've got an immaculate ensemble here, but of course, it's led by Bradley Cooper. What impressed you most about Bradley, who's in nearly every frame of this film?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Well, that was the first thing. I thought, this guy is a tremendous actor, I think right up there with anyone you want to work with. And at the same time, this is an incredibly intelligent collaborator, a really great guy all around, a really good human being.

And this character, who does some pretty dastardly things, you know, is embodied in-- in him, which is a guy that looks like a leading man straight out from a 1940s movie. He is good-looking in the way that Gary Cooper was, you know? And therefore you understand why his physique and his demeanor can charm most anybody. Because it is that persona, that is, the star persona that is powerful.

And as a collaborator, you cannot get a better collaborator. You have a guy that is a great director in and of himself, you know? And you can discuss not only the lens and the scene, but he keeps the balance of the whole movie in his head.

He knows when you say, look, we're going to stay wide, we're not going to go to close-ups, you're not going to get any vanity-- where's my close-- he understands everything. You are working with a fellow director, which is a great advantage.

- Mr. Carlisle, come in.

- Slow day?

[LOUNGE PIANO MUSIC]

- Have you not heard? We are at war.

KEVIN POLOWY: I am originally from the city of Buffalo, so I love that you keep setting your films there, and with this one, actually got to shoot there. I mean--

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yes.

KEVIN POLOWY: --not to put words into your mouth, but what makes Buffalo your new favorite city in the world?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Oh, well, first of all, the life in Buffalo is fantastic in terms of the cultural scene. The food scene is fantastic-- two things that are very important for me. And in terms of cooperating with the film office, you cannot find a better film office in the world.

And it's basically a sampler of every style of architecture in the 20th century. You want to set it in the 1900s and the 1800s even, 19th century. You want Deco. You want classical architecture from 1940. You get everything. And it's effortless to make a period picture there. Look, it's very pleasant also that you can move, logistically, your crew from one end to the other in 15 minutes. It's fantastic.

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