Unlike a few other productions who risked it all to get its shots in during the COVID pandemic, Guillermo del Toro reportedly shut down the set of Nightmare Alley basically the second the news broke. In a recent interview with IndieWire, the Shape of Water filmmaker described how quickly production shut down on his A-list carnival-set drama.
“We stopped the shoot a week before [the industry shut down]. We reacted super fast, we proposed the studio to stop as opposed to being asked to stop,” del Toro said. “That saved us. Nobody to my knowledge in the cast or the crew got coronavirus. We were roughly 45 percent in. We were literally in the middle of a great scene. We went to lunch and talked to the studio and when we came back we said, ‘Everybody leave your tools and leave now.’”
An Oscar-Winner and Safety King, Del Toro hopes to start production back up in the fall, with the help of an 80-page protocol he crafted for both Nightmare Alley and his upcoming stop-motion Pinocchio adaptation.
“In stop-motion, you have many sets nearby one another in a warehouse like space,” del Toro said. “You can have 10 sets in one space. We had to create a protocol where we now space the sets a certain number of feet. We created different shifts so no one is exposed. In this moment, security is paramount. Health, safety is the number one concert. We got to get used to it.”
Based on a novel by William Lindsay Gresham, Nightmare Alley stars Bradley Cooper as a manipulative carnival worker who falls in love with a mysterious, dangerous psychiatrist played by Cate Blanchett. Filling out the carnival backdrop is Willem Dafoe as the show’s barker, Ron Perlman as a strongman, and Rooney Mara as Cooper’s coworker.