Guillermo del Toro Gómez (born October 9, 1964) is a critically acclaimed Mexican filmmaker and author, widely known for his Speculative Fiction works. He is perhaps best recognized by moviegoers as director of the Hellboy film duology and Pan's Labyrinth, as well as the Academy Award winning The Shape of Water.
Del Toro is notorious for turning down high-budgeted Summer Blockbuster movies to work on smaller, independent projects. So far he has rejected offers to direct I Am Legend; One Missed Call; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Halo, and even Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He did, however, accept an offer to work on the The Hobbit film series, but The Lord of the Rings-helmer Peter Jackson wound up taking over the director's spot, with del Toro staying on as a writer. Another famed characteristic of his is being attached to so many things that his "future projects" are very different than what actually comes out.
He also developed Trollhunters, which he produced at DreamWorks Animation. He also announced that he made DreamWorks his animation home and has already worked on a few projects, including Kung Fu Panda 2 and Megamind. The full press release can be read here.
He made his literary debut with co-author Chuck Hogan in 2009, with the release of a vampire novel, The Strain. It is the first part of a trilogy of novels. He was also hoping for a final sequel to the Hellboy movies until a reboot was announced in 2017.
His pet project is adapting H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness for the big screen. Despite backing from James Cameron and tentative agreement by Tom Cruise to star, the project was cancelled by Universal: partly because they thought it unlikely for a Cosmic Horror Story film to make money at the box office, and partly because del Toro refused to tone down some of its elements so that it would likely be rated PG-13 (his proposed script would definitely catch an R). He has also adamantly refused to include a Token Romance. He made attempts to find financing with 20th Century Fox, but he put the project on hold due to its similarity to Ridley Scott's Prometheus. The latest news concerning the project seems to indicate that Legendary is open to funding the film and he has compromised on his desire for an R-rating.
Is a frequent collaborator with Ron Perlman and Mike Mignola. He is also One of Us being an avid gamer who cites games like Half-Life and BioShock as being his favorites and he was developing Insane, as well as Silent Hills with Hideo Kojima before both got cancelled. He is also friends with fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, the three being collectively known as "The Three Amigos of Cinema."note
Not remotely related to actor Benicio del Toro, who is Puerto Rican, not Mexican.
As both Writer and Director
- The Devil's Backbone
- Pan's Labyrinth
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
- Pacific Rim
- The Strain (Directed the feature-length pilot episode and co-wrote the teleplay with novel collaborator Chuck Hogan.)
- Crimson Peak (Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jim Beaver)
- The Shape of Water (For which he won an Oscar for Best Directing, on top of the film winning Best Picture)
- Tales of Arcadia
- Nightmare Alley (Based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Toni Collette)
- Pinocchio (co-director and co-writer)
As Director only:
As Writer only:
- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
- The Witches (2020)
- Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (writer and producer)
- Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (Creator, writer, executive producer, and host)
- Hellboy: The Science of Evil, a video game based on the Hellboy film series which was published by Konami. (writer)
- The Strain (Novel, 2009), and its sequels, The Fall (2010) and Night Eternal (2011); all with Chuck Hogan.
- The Haunted Mansion (Upcoming film, with a screenplay by Del Toro, based on the ride at Disneyland.)
- Trollhunters (Young Adult novel, developed into an animated series)
- Hellboy Animated (Producer)
- The Hobbit (Was directing and co-writing, but after several years in Development Hell he stepped down as director, and remained credited as a co-writer with Peter Jackson (and his usual writing team)).
- Insane (horror video game originally intended to be released in 2013; currently canceled as a result of THQ's bankruptcy, but with the intellectual rights transferring to del Toro).
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (actor, as Pappy McPoyle)
- Julia's Eyes (producer)
- Puss in Boots (2011) (executive producer)
- Rise of the Guardians (executive producer)
- Kung Fu Panda 3 (executive producer)
- Mama (executive producer)
- The Orphanage (executive producer)
- Intro for Treehouse of Horror XXIV
- The Book of Life (executive producer)
- Silent Hills (a Silent Hill game, collaborating with Hideo Kojima, now cancelled)
- Death Stranding (collaboration with Hideo Kojima, in an acting rolenote )
- Pacific Rim: Uprising (as producer)
- Mickey and the Roadster Racers : Mr. Talbot (voice role)
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (producer and story credit)
- Antlers (producer)
- The Hollow Ones (Novel, 2020); with Chuck Hogan.
Tropes and trivia common to his works include:
- Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: Del Toro gave up on directing The Hobbit because he was involved in way too many things, with his schedule filled up until 2017. Among the projects are a new Frankenstein, a remake of Slaughterhouse-Five, adaptations of At the Mountains of Madness, The Haunted Mansion, and Drood, a third Hellboy, and a Pacific Rim sequel movie and prequel cartoon (and that's just the ones he'll direct!). And as of 2020 (save for the Pacific Rim sequel which he produced rather than directed) precisely none of them have so much as entered production.
- Author Appeal:
- He loves monsters, generally with slime, prehensile throat appendages (seriously, this appears in five of his film), copious Eyes Do Not Belong There, insects, things in jars (often People Jars), and supernatural stuff.
- Spanish culture features in his works, sometimes in the background as in Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage, and sometimes in the form of his favorite cameo-man Santiago Segura doing some of his crass Spanish comedy. Del Toro himself has stated to love the country and its history, and is a declared fan of Spaniards like mystery journalist Íker Jiménez and comedian José Mota.
- Also references to Roman Catholicism. Del Toro was raised as one, and although he describes himself as a "raging atheist," he still likes the imagery.
- Clock Punk, or at least, clocks.
- Fetuses in jars of yellow fluid, present in The Devil's Backbone, Blade II, Death Stranding, and Nightmare Alley.
- A lot of his characters collect things, with heroic elderly antique dealers showing up in Cronos and The Strain (and are both mirrored by elderly villains who keep their discarded organs around like Howard Hughes' jars of urine), all the weird things on display at the BPRD offices in the Hellboy movies, the collection of clockwork toys in Crimson Peak, and the above-mentioned pickled fetuses. This also extends to Del Toro himself, who bought a second house just to house all the weird things he had collected, or even the simple fact that he named his anthology horror series Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities.
- Author Phobia:
- He hates horses and cows, which he has called "perverted creatures" and "evil motherfuckers". Any character associated with either animal - the horse-mounted fascists in Pan's Labyrinth or the bull-like troll Mr. Wink in Hellboy II: The Golden Army - are likely to be evil. Rather ironic, given his surname.
- Part of the reason his family left Mexico was that his dad got kidnapped and held for ransom. The loss of a father is a big motif in his work - Ofelia, Elisa, and Jim are all fatherless, Hellboy and Edith both lose their fathers (the latter in a truly brutal scene), Stan Carlisle kills his own father, and Cronos is ultimately about a little girl saying goodbye to her grandfather. His version of Pinocchio is all about the complex relationship between the title character and his father, and the movie ends with Gepetto dying of old age. On the other hand, evil father figures show up pretty often as well - most overtly with the Wicked Stepfather Cpt. Vidal and the deconstructed Standard '50s Father that is Richard Strickland, and the Sharpe siblings' father is said to have been a drunken abuser.
- Del Toro clearly has strong opinions about fascism too, with overtly-fascist villains showing up in three of his films (Nazis in Hellboy, Francoists in Pan's Labyrinth, and Italian fascists in Pinocchio) and fascist-sympathetic villains in two more (The Devil's Backbone and The Shape of Water). In other mediums, Eichorst in The Strain is a Nazi and Nick in del Toro's contribution to Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, "Lot 36", is extremely right-wing and the monster of the episode is a demon summoned by a Nazi to infest his own sister's body.
- Related to his enmity towards fascism is his opposition to the idea of perfection. His villains are usually in pursuit of some kind of perfection, from Rasputin and his followers in Hellboy trying to create "a new Eden", Cronos and The Strain both feature evil billionaires obsessed with a kind of biological perfection, compulsively replacing their own internal organs to try to live for ever, and the villains of Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape of Water are both obsessed with living up to the expectations of what they think a man is supposed to be, and the Podesta's goal is to mold Pinocchio and Candlewick into "perfect" soldiers. This relates to his tendency towards Clock Punk imagery, which usually symbolizes a villain's desire for perfect, regulated order. Conversely his heroes are - or learn to be - more accepting of their own faults and those of others, which Agent Myers from Hellboy sums up thus:We like people in spite of their flaws, but we love people because of them.
- Beast and Beauty: Most obvious in the full-on monsterfucker love story that is The Shape of Water, but we can also see it in the Hellboy movies, with a romantic arc between the Big Red Devil hero and his human girlfriend, Liz. In the second Hellboy, the fishman Abe also has a romantic arc with an elven princess who appears much more human that he does.
- Be Yourself: A big theme of his films is we need to accept that we, and those around us, are flawed. For example, in The Shape of Water, Cute Mute Elisa becomes attracted to the Amphibian Man because "he doesn't see how I am incomplete, he sees me as I am", and Pinocchio is about how Gepetto needs to accept that his son is a roughly-hewn chunk of wood, rather than expecting him to be a "real boy".
- Bittersweet Ending: Most of his movies will end with the bad guy defeated, but a clear sense that a price has been paid by the protagonists, too.
- Black-and-White Morality: In many of his films, there's a clear distinction on who's good and who's bad, though his good characters are still allowed to be flawed.
- Book Ends: Several of his films, like The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and The Shape of Water, usually start with an opening narration that comes back in the ending to nicely tie everything together in a fairy tale-like fashion.
- Break the Cutie: Many of his films feature children in extreme peril.
- Celebrity Resemblance: The Honest Trailer for Pacific Rim calls del Toro "the Latino Peter Jackson". The pictures shown reinforces their resemblance.
- Creator's Favorite Episode: The Shape of Water, which netted him an Oscar.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Most of his films feature sympathetic monsters or ghosts. The ghosts in The Devil's Backbone and Crimson Peak are simply trying to expose their murderers, Hellboy and Blade are basically monster super heroes, Pinocchio meets a threatening-but-basically-benevolent Angel of Death and her rabbit psychopomp underlings (and Pinocchio himself is arguably a monster in this version), and The Shape of Water is about rescuing a Creature from the Black Lagoon expy from vivisection (and also how good the Creature is at sex). A lot of the tension in Pan's Labyrinth comes from wondering whether the Faun can be trusted, and it turns out that he can.
- Devil, but No God: Del Toro identifies as an atheist (albit one deeply fascinated with the aesthetics of Catholicism), but does believe in the supernatural.
- Doing It for the Art:
- Many of his films are passion projects. He's turned down or postponed high-profile films to work on smaller ones that he has a personal connection to. He's even taken significant budget cuts rather than cave to Executive Meddling. He especially doesn't like it when people assume Pacific Rim or Hellboy (2004) aren't deeply personal because they're not "serious" fantastical films.People say, you know, "I like your Spanish movies more than I like your English-language movies because they are not as personal", and I go "Fuck, you're wrong!" Hellboy is as personal to me as Pan's Labyrinth. They're tonally different, and yes, of course you can like one more than the other — the other one may seem banal or whatever it is that you don't like. But it really is part of the same movie. You make one movie.
- Guillermo del Toro is known to have a life-long fascination with drawing twisted monsters. This fascination brought him trouble with his strict Catholic family, with some of his relatives literally throwing vials of holy water at him when they caught his "evil creature" drawings. Things eventually got better when his parents chose his high school; they were looking for a Catholic high school, and ended up choosing the liberal Jesuit high school Instituto de Ciencias, whose teachers and authorities didn't have issue with Guillermo scrawling monsters on his notebooks or in the bathroom stalls. Eventually, his literature teacher took notice of the creative genius that lied beneath his stories and depictions of monsters and he encouraged his creativity, and he was left with a life-long desire to freely express his creations before the world.
- Many of his films are passion projects. He's turned down or postponed high-profile films to work on smaller ones that he has a personal connection to. He's even taken significant budget cuts rather than cave to Executive Meddling. He especially doesn't like it when people assume Pacific Rim or Hellboy (2004) aren't deeply personal because they're not "serious" fantastical films.
- Executive Meddling: Guillermo often wrestles with this; his second film Mimic was equated to "having a beautiful daughter and watching her arms get cut off". The studios have fought with him at other points (for example, they wanted Pan's Labyrinth to take place in Nazi Germany instead of Franco's Spain) but his additional clout has allowed him to be more successful in staying true to his vision nowadays.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape of Water are a dark, twisted, fantastical adventure and a romance, respectively. Downplayed in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, which is a fairly dark and subversive take on the classic story, but still more or less kid-friendly.
- Genre Throwback:
- Crimson Peak is one for Gothic Romance, as well as the visually sumptuous Haunted House movies of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s (stuff like The Haunting (1963), The Shining and the works of Mario Bava).
- As whole, del Toro considers all of his films to be deliberate reconstructions of the Gothic literature he grew up reading.
- Humans Are Bastards: Even in stories full of monsters, most of his real villains will be humans. Even in stories with monstrous villains, like The Strain, the monsters have no trouble corrupting susceptible humans.
- Kids Are Cruel: A recurring theme in his work. Partially a deliberate subversion of the Children Are Innocent movie cliche, and partially allegedly drawn from his own childhood experiences. It's also worth noting that a lot of the mean kids in his stories (e.g. Jaime from The Devil's Backbone, Steve from Tales of Arcadia, and even Zach from The Strain, who does some truly evil things) get some level of redemption.
- Kid Hero: In The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, and the Tales of Arcadia universe. His adult heroes tend to have be somewhat childlike as well.
- Our Monsters Are Different: His depictions of supernatural creatures often deviate from the norm.
- Period Piece: Most of his films are set prior to the 1970s, with the 1940s being a favourite decade (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Nightmare Alley, Pinocchio). Crimson Peak is mostly set in 1901, and The Shape of Water is set in the early '60s, during the Kennedy administration.
- Production Posse: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Santiago Segura tend to appear in most of his films.
- Scenery Porn: Most of his films include this in some capacity.
- Signature Style: In addition to his Author Appeal and Author Phobia, his films often favor a specific and small palette (amber for Hellboy, blue-green for Pan's Labyrinth, yellow/blue for night/day in Blade II, and green/yellow for The Shape of Water). He also likes a particular type of creepiness; "I have a sort of a fetish for insects, clockwork, monsters, dark places, and unborn things,"
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite a reasonable amount of cynicism, there is a good amount of optimism and magic in his films.
- What Could Have Been: It was rumored that he was approached to direct the Godzilla remake (which was actually directed by Gareth Edwards), though Guillermo has since debunked those rumors.
- He was offered the Harry Potter movies (specifically Prisoner of Azkaban and Half-Blood Prince) but turned them down since he felt the movies didn't jibe with his dark vision of the Potterverse. He is a fan of the books however, and was the one who encouraged Alfonso Cuarón to direct PoA.
- He also submitted a script for the film version of Justice League Dark with its tentative title, Dark Universe to Warner Bros. and was waiting for the project to be greenlit. However, with the announcement that all Vertigo Comics adaptions would be Distributed by New Line Cinema, it seem's that he has left the film Project altogether. When it's revealed that WB liked the script and planned to shoot it which coincides the production of Pacific Rim 2, del Toro had to make a difficult choice. So, he chose Pacific Rim 2 instead since he's already made schedules for the filming which would happen on late 2015.
- He had two video games in the works: A game known as inSANE which was cancelled due to production being halted by THQ, who went out of business afterwards. And then there's the most infamous, Silent Hills which was cancelled after Konami went bonkers and fired Hideo Kojima.
- He was in talks to direct a Doctor Strange movie, which would have been co-written by Neil Gaiman. Del Toro was also considered for Thor.
- Hellboy 3 became this with the announcement that it "100% will not happen". The series was eventually rebooted without his involvement.