Guillermo Del Toro explained why Leonardo DiCaprio had to leave his latest film, Nightmare Alley. This is Del Toro’s newest project since 2017’s The Shape of Water, which earned him both Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards. Nightmare Alley had its world premiere at the beginning of December, and it scheduled to hit theaters on December 17.
Known for exploring the supernatural in his films, Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is a psychological thriller adapted from the 1946 novel which was already brought to the big screen in 1947. The story follows Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) as he partners up with a corrupt psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) to profit off of their scams. The cast also includes Richard Jenkins, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, David Strathairn, and Toni Collette, among others.
Cooper wasn’t always considered for the lead role. In an interview with The Wrap, Del Toro explained why his first choice, DiCaprio, had to depart from the project. The conflict was strictly a scheduling one—DiCaprio’s availability did not coincide with the director’s. While sometimes this issue can be worked-around, Del Toro wasn’t willing to lose the other high-demand actors he had envisioned for his film. Check out the full statement below:
“He was interested because we have a common fascination for the carnival, but very quickly within the process it was evident that there was gonna be a conflict of dates. I needed enough time to put together the cast in the way that I had seen it. We had written the part of Lilith for Cate Blanchett, I had written the part of Clem for Willem Dafoe, I had written Bruno for Ron Perlman, etc. So we couldn’t be hurried into shooting really quick, because we needed to make all these shooting schedules coalesce into the movie. He departed on really good terms.”
Although the prospect of DiCaprio’s lead role is an enticing one given his iconic stature, reviews of Nightmare Alley have praised Cooper’s role, and have been mostly positive for the film as a whole. Del Toro can surely expect numerous awards this year.