It’s been a long and excruciating (depending on how geeky you are) wait for Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated gothic romance Crimson Peak to make its way to theaters for general audiences. When the trailer was released earlier this year, the Internet was rightfully abuzz with speculation that this would be a long-awaited return to the more personal tone of previous del Toro masterpieces like Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone, and perhaps even outdo these universally lauded works in its ambitious scope.
The film, as del Toro describes it, is about love – or more specifically, the type of love that can turn us all into monsters. Although for most people, Crimson Peak will actually be about the richly detailed renditions of supernatural beings that have come to define del Toro’s aesthetic. But del Toro is not a mere visual effects technician á la Michael Bay, and watching him hold court in one of his often hilarious question and answer sessions, one realizes his narrative concerns are more closely aligned with literary masters like the Brontë sisters or Henry James than with Hasbro Toys.
Indeed, Crimson Peak follows firmly in the tradition of the Victorian English literature that so inspired del Toro with its story of passionate romance, mystery, and the supernatural. Protagonist Edith Cushing is the daughter of an American industrial magnate who falls in love with a irresistible stranger with a dark past. When they marry and take up shop in his gloomy mansion in northern England, Edith quickly learns that she is not alone, but the true monsters are not the ghosts that terrorize her at very turn.
On the eve Crimson Peak’s premiere, we sat in on an intimate roundtable with el maestro himself as he waxed philosophical about life and love, reflected on his career, and cracked more than a few knee-slappers along the way. Here are a few highlights so you too can bask in the undeniable brilliance of the King of All Geeks.
Crimson Peak opens in theaters on October 16, 2015.
On What Makes His Movies “Latino”
“The hard thing for me is to make a movie as if I’m not Mexican, which I am.”
The way I see monsters or ghosts is very Latin. I open the movie and I say, “Ghosts are real, end of story.” The opening scene [in Crimson Peak] is based on a visitation that my mother experienced. My mother’s grandmother died when she was a child. She was crying in her bed and she heard the silk of her grandmother’s dress move in the corridor and she smelled her perfume and she heard the bedsprings creak and felt the weight of her grandmother leaning on her back, and she jumped up screaming and left the room. And that’s pretty Mexican because it’s my mother.
On Living Your Roots
I think there’s a difference between having a root and being folkloric about it. I’m not folkloric about my roots. I am my roots. The hard thing for me is to make a movie as if I’m not Mexican, which I am.
On Getting High On Your Own Supply
“I hate those movies where people should be talking in their native language and they’re speaking English.”
I am a filmmaker that is not postmodern, that is not ironic. I’m completely high on my own supply. I do what I do with a passion and earnestly, and I love that spirit. That’s the spirit of romanticism.
On Keeping Your Artistic Integrity
When we were trying to finance [Pan’s Labyrinth] a lot of people said, “We’ll give you double the budget, but do it in English.” Same story…And I said, “I can’t. I can’t do that because I hate those movies where people should be talking in their native language and they’re speaking English.” And then I know that the next step is that they would want an English actor, they would want an American actor to play the captain. It’s downhill.
On Good, Evil, and Loving Monsters Like Puppies
“Your horror is not my horror. What peels your banana doesn’t peel my banana. It’s really subjective.”
I think there is no evil without choice. A tiger, you walk into a cage, he doesn’t know “Oh he’s a nice guy.” He will eat you. A priest walks into the cage, he will eat him. Mahatma Ghandi walks into the cage, he will eat him. It’s just hardwired. But humans know the balance and make the choice, and that’s the only way to have a moral weight to an issue, is if you know the difference. If you know the difference and still enact prejudice and brutality, then that’s evil. That’s the only way I understand evil. That’s why I love the monsters in Pacific Rim, cause they were built to do that. I kind of love them like people love puppies. Like “Oh the puppy knocked the table again,” but it happens to be a parking structure.
On Peeling Bananas
I think that horror is like humor or erotica. Your horror is not my horror. What peels your banana doesn’t peel my banana. You never know. It’s really subjective.
On The Importance of Visual Style
I don’t do eye candy, I do eye protein.