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From The Hobbit to Star Wars: Some films Guillermo del Toro famously turned down

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.54.55 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Few modern directors raise the hair on the back of your neck like Guillermo del Toro. From the eerie Pale Man character in Pan’s Labyrinth to the deadly mechanical scarab of Cronos, he has trained viewers to expect the unexpected.

His latest, Crimson Peak, is a spooky thriller starring Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston that del Toro describes as an “almost classical gothic romance ghost story,” before adding, “it has two or three scenes that are really, really disturbing in a very, very modern way.” Also expect a fest for the eyes. “I’m not giving you eye candy,” he says. “It’s eye protein.”

Films like Pacific Rim, The Devil’s Backbone and Hellboy have made del Toro a fan favourite but for every film he makes there is Internet buzz about the movies he didn’t make.

“I’m famous for the ones I turned down,” he told me a few years ago in a candid conversation on my radio show.

Indeed a quick Google search reveals a list of hit films he said no to.

The script for Se7en came his way but was judged to be too cynical for del Toro’s tastes. Horror hits Blade: Trinity and AVP: Alien vs. Predator went to directors David S. Goyer and Paul W.S. Anderson respectively when Guillermo declined because he was too busy getting his version of Hellboy to the screen.

I asked him about that period. “To get Hellboy made you turned down…” “A lot,” he said, finishing my sentence.

More recently he walked away from The Hobbit, a decision he called “extremely painful,” and took a rain check on Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens because “basically I have so much stuff already of my own, and I’m pursuing stuff that I’m generating already.”

One project has kept the del Toro fan base purring for years, a proposed version of Frankenstein.

“This is the one that I pursue and drop. It’s daunting. This is the most important story in the history of narrative. The most important book in my life is Frankenstein and the most important movie is James Whale’s Frankenstein.

“It’s like that girl you have been dating for 35 years and you can’t say, ‘Would you marry me?’

“I read the book and realized nobody has done the book. It is amazing to me that nobody has done the emotions that are in the book. The way I want to treat the one I do is not to be slavish to the book but create the same effect the book has which is the incredible journey of the creature.”

I ask if he has any second thoughts about the films he turned down.

“Every movie I have left behind or not done I don’t regret at all but there’s one that I can’t help but wonder (about), Prisoner of Azkaban. I really loved the books. I don’t love all the movies but at that stage I saw the first two movies and they were a little too happy for me. I thought, ‘Do I really want to go on and try to change the entire universe like that?’”

The job of directing the third Harry Potter movie eventually went to one of del Toro’s friends, Alfonso Cuarón. “When I saw that movie I told Alfonso, ‘I love you and I hate you. You made a great movie.’ That’s the only one that went away that I will always wonder about.”

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