Guillermo del Toro and Frankenstein, "is there anything more perfect than that?" asks the auteur's longtime collaborator, J. Miles Dale. Dale is the producer behind the 2018 Best Picture winner The Shape of Water and 2021's Oscar-nominated Nightmare Alley, as well as television ventures like The Strain and Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities. His next movie with del Toro is the director's long-awaited take on Frankenstein.
"At one time, he was going to do the Monster Universe with Universal — Frankenstein's Bride, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, The Wolf Man — and he didn't," Dale tells A.frame. "We feel like Shape of Water was kind of a version of a creature. So now, here he is doing his own Monster Universe."
Del Toro's Frankenstein, which he is writing and directing, will revisit the original source material that is Mary Shelley's 1818 novel. "The book is deeply emotional," notes Dale. Whereas past film adaptations have centered on themes of man versus nature and fear of the unknown, the producer hints that del Toro's take will focus on family.
"In the last couple of films, certainly with Nightmare Alley and then with Pinocchio, we've dealt with the whole father-son relationship. And Guillermo and I both lost our fathers in the last few years. When you have a strong father figure, it's a big part of our lives," Dale says. "This version of Frankenstein very much goes down that thematic road. So, I feel like this is the third film in Guillermo's father trilogy. That's exciting, and when you read the script, it's very emotional and, of course, very iconic."
Del Toro previously spoke to A.frame about what director James Whale's 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein meant to him growing up, having first seen the movie on TV while growing up in Mexico. "I saw Pinocchio and Frankenstein very close to each other," he recalled, "and they melded in my head... I love the idea that Pinocchio and Frankenstein are primal experiences of what it is to be human. Because you are thrown into a world that you don't understand, that is wrong for you and you're a wrong fit for it, and you have to figure yourself and the world as you go along. You either change the world or the world destroys you. And those two movies do that."
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, another of the filmmaker's long-time passion projects, won Best Animated Feature Film at this year's 95th Oscars. Frankenstein currently has no release date, but will reportedly star Andrew Garfield, Oscar Isaac and Mia Goth.
"It's a pretty good cast," says Dale. "We've had pretty good casts the last couple films. The last one was insane, frankly. I mean, that's a pinch-me cast. And so was The Shape of Water cast. That's another dream cast. I think there are a lot of actors that really want to work with Guillermo, and so that makes things a little bit easier. So, it should be fun. Nothing's easy, and that one's not going to be easy — it's a big movie with a ship stuck in the ice and a ton of other things — but we've got a little bit of lead time on it, and we're excited to get going."
"It is absolutely the perfect match," Dale continues. "And to me, Guillermo just gets better and better. I've been with him the last 12 years since we started producing on Mama… and I just continue to be amazed by his development with these films. As you get older, you get more experience and hopefully some wisdom and you get in touch with who you are a little more, and I feel like Guillermo is doing that. He's in such a sweet spot right now, and I feel really privileged to be involved in that."
By John Boone