Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance Crimson Peak will be released by Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures in theaters on October 16, 2015 starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Charlie Hunnam. Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who longs to be taken seriously as a writer. Hiddleston and Chastain play siblings Thomas and Lucille Sharpe who venture to America to attempt to secure funding for a machine to mine clay back at their English estate, Allerdale Hall. Hunnam, who starred in del Toro’s Pacific Rim, plays Dr. Alan McMichael, a handsome bachelor who has a crush on Wasikowska and immediately distrusts the siblings.
Del Toro calls Crimson Peak the “darkest of fairytales,” a film that mixes physical and psychological horror and one of his favorite creations to date. As the acclaimed filmmaker points out, this is the first Gothic romance of this large a scale to hit theaters in more than three decades. The sets, costumes, and production design are gorgeous, and Allerdale Hall is a character in its own right.
Del Toro and fellow screenwriter Matthew Robbins were inspired by Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Jane Austen’s Wuthering Heights, and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, with the heart of Crimson Peak being a classic love story centered on a woman on a journey to adulthood.
At the San Diego Comic Con I had the opportunity for brief one-on-one interviews with three of the film’s stars – Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska – to discuss what it was like to work with del Toro on Crimson Peak.
Asked about being on a Guillermo del Toro set, Tom Hiddleston said it’s amazing. “His authority over his own imagination is deeply infectious. It’s a privilege, if I’m honest,” explained Hiddleston.
Hiddleston also said working with del Toro is very much a collaborative process. “I think all the best, the most imaginative and gifted creative people I’ve ever worked with are always collaborators,” said Hiddleston. “It’s a weird, strange thing, and I hadn’t thought about it until you asked me. Because that’s the nature of being creative is that the creativity is fluid, inspiration is boundless and bountiful, and you bounce ideas off of each other. I found it brilliant because of course when I absorbed the script and the character I had so many questions that I had to ask and so many ideas, and he loved so many of them. It became a very easy process. It was great.”
Jessica Chastain echoed Hiddleston’s sentiment about working with del Toro. “It’s amazing. When you’re on his set it’s not like there’s only green screen. You are in the house and he creates the environment for you to do the work and everything becomes real in a way, but safe. Especially for this movie it’s safe,” said Chastain, laughing. “It’s wonderful. He is the most knowledgeable person on what you’re shooting. He’s so generous. He works harder than anyone else. I tend to think I work really hard…Guillermo works harder than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Chastain also explained a little more about the relationship between her character and Hiddleston’s. “Tom and I play brother and sisters in the film. I play Lady Lucille Sharpe, and I’m his hovering sister. She’s very possessive because she…how do I say this without giving too much away? She has protected him and basically he’s all she knows. She becomes cautious when she brings this newfound love, Edith, into the house. And then more and more frightened as he becomes more and more obsessed with Edith. We don’t know if Lucille is going to take Edith under her wing and protect her, or if she’s going to manipulate the situation.”
Mia Wasikowska’s character, Edith, is caught between two handsome, intelligent men in the film, and on the red carpet she spoke about that love triangle. Asked what Edith finds attractive about each of the two men that makes it difficult for her to make up her mind, Wasikowska replied, “I think there’s the character who’s played by Charlie Hunnam and that’s someone she’s known her whole life. He’s a great friend and someone she grew up with. And then this mysterious man turns up who’s Tom and it’s a fairly classic conflict that I think women sometimes face. But, yeah, they’re very different characters.”
Wasikowska also described her experience with writer/director del Toro. “It’s wonderful,” said Wasikowska. “I’ve never been on a set where they created such a beautiful, detailed mansion as they did on this film. The detail is so specific and relevant to each of the characters. There are little hidden meanings and messages literally kind of in the walls. It was really wonderful. It was just very beautiful.”