The new gothic horror film “Crimson Peak” kicked off Legendary Pictures’ panel in a filled-to-capacity Hall H on Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Director Guillermo del Toro — a Comic-Con favorite — discussed the film with moderator Chris Hardwick and actors Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska.
“I wanted to create a really classical, lush, lavish gothic romance that hasn’t been done for a while, said del Toro. “It’s a female-centric movie that has strong protagonists.” The director explained that he has daughters and a wife, and he wanted to steer away from the genre’s usual damsel-in-distress formula. “It has twists that, shall we say, are more gender-liberating. I wanted it to be scary and I wanted it to be gorgeous. It’s one of the three favorite movies I’ve done and it’s the most beautiful movie I’ve made.”
He then showed off a new trailer, warning that it does contain spoilers. The trailer features a lot of ghosts and reveals that Wasikowska’s character has been seeing them all of her life. After things turn bad at Crimson Peak, she realizes that the ghosts have been trying to warn her. It appears that Chastain and Hiddleston’s characters are using her for some unknown but cruel purpose.
The actors talked about working on the beautifully constructed gothic sets. “I’ve never been on a set like this before,” said Wasikowska. “It was the most beautifully created mansion.”
Hiddleston added that he loved working on the Great Hall sets. He said that the house that the characters live in is in the north part of England but the sets were on a soundstage in Toronto. “When I walked in for the first time, it was just breathtaking. It had working elevators and the clay that the house was supposed to be sitting on would be seeping through the floorboards. It was the most extraordinary set I have ever been on, and I was very sad when they had to tear it down.”
“It was sad,” agreed del Toro. After a short pause, he added that he “liked the bathroom,” drawing laughter from the audience. “The bathroom was gorgeous. It’s not what you think.”
Chastain really liked the set for Lucille’s bedroom. “It was filled with things — well I can’t really talk about them without giving away spoilers,” she said. “But it was beautiful.”
Wasikowska said she was unfamiliar to the horror genre before working on this film and was glad del Toro was there to guide her and teach her about the genre. He gave her a copy of “Frankenstein” and wrote an introduction in the book explaining why horror is important. “It was a great lesson in how we learn about ourselves through our fears and it was a great guide through this new world.”
Hiddleston was asked what made del Toro unique to work with. He said that the actors were given detailed, 10-page character biographies when they received their scripts. “It was the most incredible document with my star sign, my date of birth, the secrets I don’t want to tell anyone, what I like and what I don’t like, the horrible time I had with my aunt when I was thirteen — that kind of detail is what we should all do with every character that we play,” he said. “Guillermo has an enormous imagination and getting to live inside that imagination with all of his detail and rigor and precision was a huge pleasure… and I’ve never been teased so much before on set before by another director but I liked it.”
“We’re like twins,” teased del Toro, as the audience laughed. “I’m Danny DeVito,” he joked.
Hiddleston said that the last act of the film is like a roller coaster. “It exists at a very intense pitch. There’s twist after twist and you don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s very satisfying.”
Del Toro revealed that he is working on a Crimson Peak attraction for this October’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
The panel concluded with del Toro thanking the studio for letting him make the film he wanted to make without any interference. He said that while making the film, he kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and be told that he can’t do this or this is too much — but that moment never came. “For the first time [in my career] I felt completely free to make an adult [R-rated] film in the English language, and I hope that you guys enjoy the….hell…out of it.”
“Crimson Peak” from Legendary Pictures opens on October 16th.
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