Guillermo del Toro Gómez (born October 9, 1964) is a critically acclaimed Mexican filmmaker and author, widely known for his work on the Speculative Fiction genre. He is perhaps best recognized by moviegoers as director of the Hellboy film series, Pan's Labyrinth, as well as the Academy Award winning The Shape of Water.
Del Toro is notoriously known 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 Del Toro 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 more recently stated that he wished to 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
- Mimic (His only Old Shame, because the studio changed his ending. You can see that he put a lot of love into the rest of it, however.)
- The Devil's Backbone
- Hellboy and its sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
- Pan's Labyrinth (His most acclaimed work)
- 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. It also reunites him with Pacific Rim stars Burn Gorman and Charlie Hunnam)
- 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 (Upcoming film based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Toni Collette. Began filming in January 2020, production was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
As Director only:
As Writer only:
- 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 (Formerly directing and co-writing, but after several years in Development Hell he stepped down as director, and remains 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).
- Julia's Eyes (producer)
- Puss in Boots (executive producer)
- Rise of the Guardians (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)
Tropes common to his works include:
- Author Appeal:
- He loves monsters, generally with slime, prehensile throat appendages (seriously, this appears in five of his film), 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.
- 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 and Jim are both fatherless, Hellboy and Edith both lose their fathers (the latter in a truly brutal scene), and Cronos is ultimately about a little girl saying goodbye to her grandfather. 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.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: His works tend to have lots of these. Reaches its height at Pacific Rim, where almost every named character has an impossibly cool name (probably an homage to Gundam's unusual character names).
- He also counts as this. His name, Guillermo Del Toro means "William of the Bull".
- 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, theres a clear distinction on whos good and whos bad.
- 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.
- Clockwork Creature: Cronos and the Hellboy movies have both featured creatures powered by clockwork. A clock also features prominently in Pan's Labyrinth.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Most of his films feature sympathetic monsters.
- The Fair Folk: Seen in Pan's Labyrinth, the Hellboy movies, and Don't be Afraid of the Dark.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Pan's Labyrinth and The Shape of Water are a dark, twisted, fantastical adventure and a romance, respectively.
- 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).
- Humans Are Bastards: See Dark Is Not Evil. 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. Don't let that and the Break the Cutie trope lead you to believe he hates kids: he has a few of his own, and mentioned he plays video games with his daughter. 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, and the Tales of Arcadia universe. His adult heroes tend to have be somewhat childlike as well.
- Lonely Rich Kid: His father won the Mexican lottery when he was little, built a Chrysler dealership empire from the money, and Guillermo was living in a gigantic mansion by the time he was seven. He said if his sister wasn't around, he could have genuinely died of boredom as a child in that place.
- Nightmare Fetishist: A self-confessed one. Even outside filmmaking, he loves mystery investigation in real life, and is a huge fan of legendary Spanish program Cuarto Milenio to boot.
- Our Monsters Are Different: His depictions of supernatural creatures often deviate from the norm.
- Production Posse: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Santiago Segura tend to be 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.