There’s an essential dichotomy to Guillermo del Toro that fascinates me: in person he’s perhaps one of the most laidback, chill people one would ever hope to meet, but professionally he’s endlessly driven and ambitious. Case in point is a new article in Variety where GdT essentially sketches out his plans for the next decade. Are there any other directors who are looking ahead to 2017 like he is?
And that decade looks packed. For the record, here’s the list of projects that del Toro mentions in the article:
The Hobbit/The Hobbit 2
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
At the Mountains of Madness
Those are the ones he wants to direct. He has a bunch more he plans on producing (including an unmentioned Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark).
With the exception of The Hobbit films, these are all Universal pictures. You’ll remember that GdT had signed on with that company just before making his deal with Peter Jackson, a move that shocked and worried some insiders at the studio next to my house. “No one expected ‘The Hobbit’ to come about; it was the most marvelous
monkey wrench tossed into my life,” del Toro said. “I consider (the new
deals) the renewal of my marital vows with Universal.”
Let’s take a look at these projects, one by one:
Frankenstein. This is a long-time love for del Toro. Listening to him talk about it in the past, I’ve often wondered if this isn’t Ground Zero for the way he approaches monsters. “To me, Frankenstein represents the essential human question: ‘Why did
my creator throw me here, unprotected, unguided, unaided and lost?’ “
del Toro said. “With that one, they will have to pry it from my cold
dead hands to prevent me from directing it.”
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. This one is fascinating because no one has tried a straight Jeckyll & Hyde in a long time. There have been films taking from it, and riffs on the concept, but I don’t remember the last time someone did a straightforward version of this novel. And GdT wants to go straightforward, saying he wants to do an adaptation that hews pretty closely to the source material.
Slaughterhouse-Five. This is the one that made me prick up my ears. GdT on a Kurt Vonnegut adaptation? I have to admit that this is one pairing I never even imagined. And it’s intriguing in so many ways, especially since Vonnegut has been so rarely done right on film (including the previous adaptation of the book). “There are ways that Vonnegut plays with and juxtaposes time that was
perhaps too edgy to be tackled on film at that time,” del Toro said.
Drood. Here’s the really intriguing one. Based on a book by Dan Simmons that is being published next year, Drood is, according to Variety, a book that “supposes that survival from a catastrophic train crash changed author Charles Dickens, plunging him into the depths of London depravity and possibly turning him to murder before he wrote his final novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”” Gothic imagery, murder and madness? Yeah, that has GdT written all over it. The article places heavy odds on this being the first post-Hobbit movie.
At the Mountains of Madness. This is GdT’s longtime pet project, and the article has little to say about it, other than ‘the studio still has their sights’ set on it.
And those are the Universal movies he’s attaching himself to. There’s almost no way that del Toro will spend the next decade without making another Spanish-language movie (a movie I suspect that will be the most anticipated for GdT’s hardcore faithful.
This is an almost overwhelming amount of info, and between you and me, it’s not info that you should take as complete and total gospel. GdT loves getting attached to projects, and he loves the projects to which he’s attached, but he’s also likely to jump on the project that offers the best chance for going forward next. Of course that’s pre-Hobbit behavior; after the presumed blockbusters with Peter Jackson, will GdT be able to approach his films in a totally different way, one where he doesn’t have to get on the project that’s moving forward but where projects are moving forward because he’s on them.
Anyway, there’s one thing that we should all be taking away from this: one of the most visionary and exciting directors of our lifetime will be bringing us movies for the next decade. That takes some of the sting out of the otherwise uncertain future we all face.