After winning Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for The Shape of Water a little over a year ago, Guillermo del Toro has now chosen his next directorial project. The movie is titled Nightmare Alley, based on the 1946 novel of the same name written by William Lindsay Gresham.
And now it looks like the film may have some serious star power. It’s being reported that fellow Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks for the lead role in del Toro’s latest.
Nightmare Alley begins with an extraordinary description of a freak-show geek””alcoholic and abject and the object of the voyeuristic crowd’s gleeful disgust and derision””going about his work at a county fair. Young Stan Carlisle is working as a carny, and he wonders how a man could fall so low. There’s no way in hell, he vows, that anything like that will ever happen to him.
And since Stan is clever and ambitious and not without a useful streak of ruthlessness, soon enough he’s going places. Onstage he plays the mentalist with a cute bimbo (before long his harried wife), then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan’s for the taking. William Lindsay Gresham’s novel is a dark jewel, a classic American tale about the varieties of deception and self-deception and the dream of redemption””a dream that is only a nightmare in disguise.
The story has been adapted once before, in the 1947 movie of the same name starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell.
In addition to directing Nightmare Alley del Toro co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Morgan. He’s also producing and financing with J. Miles Dale and TSG Entertainment. The Shape of Water distributor Fox Searchlight has worldwide distribution rights.