As creative as Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is, it’s surprising that he has never made a fully animated film sometime in his career. Based on his imaginative approach to storytelling, it’s almost like the genre was made for him.
That doesn’t mean, however, that del Toro didn’t aspire to make an animated film years before he debuted with his own stop-motion version of Pinocchio this year. In fact, del Toro was hoping that his directorial debut back in the early 1990s would’ve been an animated movie.
“I started with animation before live action,” del Toro said during a Deadline event. “I was teaching animation in high school at 17 to kids 15 and 14. I started a company that did…special effects and stop motion [for 10 years], and I was supposed to start with a stop-motion movie before Cronos (his 1993 feature debut).”
What stopped del Toro from making that stop-motion animated film? A crime. He said 30 years ago, he, his then-girlfriend and his brother had built over 100 puppets made of clay. It seems like he was basically ready to go into production when his set was vandalized.
“We built a few sets, and we started the first day of photography – I was animating the puppet,” del Toro said. “We left for dinner, and we got burglarized. And the burglars, frustrated for not finding anything of value, crushed every single puppet and pooped and peed all over the floor, which was the signal [for me] to go to live action. And I said, live action it is.”
In the last three decades, del Toro hasn’t shied away from using visual effects in his live-action films – but it’s not until Pinocchio that he’s proven to be a natural in the animation field.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is currently playing at select theaters. It will debut on Netflix on December 9, 2022.