The monsters of Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro’s movies have always moved around the fantasy and sci-fi genres. (Fox Searchlight)

The fantastic characters that the Mexican director dreamed of since he was a child have starred in many of his films

Each child has its very own monsters. Fantastic creatures that scare them at night and, as they grow, maturity comes in and these are kept in the closet.

But there was one child who cut a deal with the monsters in his room and then turned them into inspiration for his films.

That child, who is now an adult, is the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. He is the creator of fantastic films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and The shape of Water, which won the Golden Globe this year for Best Film and is nominated for the same category at the Oscars.

“I cut a deal with the monsters in my room to let me go to the bathroom,” he joked once. These fantastic creatures, born from his great imagination, have been with him all his life.


From Guadalajara to Hollywood

Guillermo del Toro was born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. At high school, he discovered one of his favorite subjects: biology. He was very interested in the body of animals and the enormous diversity of forms these can adopt, something that is reflected in the fantastic creatures of his films.

At 14 he got his first job: volunteered at a mental clinic. Guillermo was interested in rare unusual people, those who kept a whole world inside them … a bit like himself.

After finishing high school, he decided to study film, a degree in which he could experiment with various roles such as direction, script, production, make-up … all disciplines that would later serve him for his future projects.

Soon afterwards, he started working at La hora marcada, a TV series that used to show horror, fantasy and sci-fi stories. There he met 3 young men who would become his colleagues: El Chivo (Alejandro Lubezki), El Negro (Alejandro Iñárritu) and Alfonso Cuarón.

The 4 who took the plunge and went to Hollywood to make a name in the movie world’s Mecca, and they haven’t done too bad for themselves: Lubezki has written and directed numerous short films and documentaries, Cuarón won the Oscar for best director for Gravity (2014) and Alejandro Iñárritu got two for Birdman (2015) and El revenant (2016).


Fantasy fills the big screen

Guillermo decided to go for the fantasy genre cinema. He packed his monsters in his suitcase and decided to share them with the world through his stories.

It began with the film Cronos, a proposal entirely dedicated to the comic, and followed by El Espinazo del diablo, Blade II and Hellboy. But international recognition came with Pan’s Labyrinth written, directed and produced by him.

This film, inspired by the Spanish post-war period, earned him nominations for the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Awards and the Cannes Film Festival.

This year, he has dedicated himself to promoting his latest work: The Shape of water, which has already won numerous awards (such as the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Director) and has achieved no less than 13 nominations for the Oscars.

However, it has not always been easy. Del Toro says he has experienced some rough times– many suspended or canceled projects, even a break to reconsider is whole professional career.

For instance, the Mexican director has confessed that he has spent the last two years developing an idea that he has not been able to solve yet. And, despite all the praises and awards received for The Shape of Water, he still does not expect that to change because ups and downs are common in the film industry.

Up or down, one way or another, Del Toro has brought a unique vision to contemporary cinema, just an example of what fantasy with a touch of horror can achieve.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report 

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