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Willem Dafoe Joins Guillermo del Toro’s NIGHTMARE ALLEY
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UPDATE: 10/16/2019

It looks like Guillermo del Toro’s next project has added yet another legendary actor to its cast. According to Variety, Willem Dafoe has now officially agreed to join Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, and Rooney Mara in Nightmare Alley. For this film, he’ll be playing the head barker at a traveling carnival who gives Bradley Cooper’s lead character a job, thereby “ushering him into a world of show biz and grifting.”

Dafoe is no stranger to the kind of ooky-spooky films that del Toro loves so much, as he once famously played Nosferatu in Shadow of the Vampire, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He’s currently receiving critical acclaim for his role in The Lighthouse, in which he stars opposite Robert Pattinson.

Willem Dafoe as Max Shreck in Shadow of the Vampire

Lionsgate Films

Original Report:

Director Guillermo del Toro is following up his award-winning film The Shape of Water with an adaptation of ’40s noir film Nightmare Alley, and it’s already got a cast to die for. Starring Bradley Cooper as a con artist who swindles the wealthy out of their cash at a circus sideshow, the film already has the likes of Cate Blanchett attached to co-star. Here’s what we know so far about del Toro’s sure-to-be deliciously dark film.

Just What is Nightmare Alley?

20th Century Fox

Nightmare Alley is a 1946 noir novel by William Lindsay Gresham that was first turned into a film only one year later, in 1947. The film starred then-superstar Tyrone Power and actress Joan Blondell. The book and film follow the rise and fall of a con man who uses a circus sideshow to swindle the rich out of their money. The 1947 film built an entire working carnival on the Twentieth Century Fox backlot just for shooting scenes for this movie.

Although not originally a box office success, it has gone on to become a cult classic of the noir genre. The upcoming remake is set to be del Toro’s next directorial project following The Shape of Water. Just like his Oscar-winning film, it’ll be coming from Fox Searchlight. He also be writing the script with Kim Morgan. According to reports, it’ll be based more on the novel than the original big screen version.

Who Is Starring?

Warner Bros

The film already boasts an incredible cast, and it’s unlikely that all the main roles have even been filled yet. The main character of Stanton “Stan” Carlisle is being played by Bradley Cooper. Also in the cast are Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, as well as del Toro’s Shape of Water actors Richard Jenkins and Michael Shannon.

A24

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the most recent addition is Toni Collette as the carnival mentalist named Zeena, who mentors Cooper’s character. A con artist herself, she’ll be teaching Cooper how to swindle from the rich and a sideshow circus. Collette is adding another dark tale to her resume which already includes Hereditary and The Sixth Sense.

When Will Nightmare Alley Be Released?

The film isn’t scheduled to start filming in Toronto till early 2020, so don’t expect it before the end of next year at the earliest. Or more likely, it will probably get a 2021 release date.

So, Does This Qualify as a Horror Film?

Fox Searchlight

Despite the word “nightmare” in the title, if it’s based on the novel, it won’t really have a horror angle in the strictest sense. But since it is set in a carnival, and could possibly be a period piece, expect a lot of creepy circus imagery. There are very few del Toro films that don’t evoke horror or monsters in it somehow. We expect Nightmare Alley to follow that same track.

Image: A24