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Guillermo del Toro’s One Career Regret Is Turning Down Universal’s Offer to Helm the Dark Universe

"They gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn’t do it," the director said during a TimesTalks interview about "The Shape of Water."

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro attends the UK premiere of his film 'The Shape of Water' during the 61st BFI London Film Festival, in London, Britain, 10 October 2017. The festival runs from 04 to 15 October.The Shape of Water - Premiere - 61st BFI London Film Festival, United Kingdom - 10 Oct 2017

Guillermo del Toro at the UK premiere of “The Shape of Water”

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Imagine a world where Guillermo del Toro had creative control over the Dark Universe, Universal’s plan to build a franchise out of its various monster-film properties. The fledgling cinematic universe, modeled after Marvel’s success, was practically dead on arrival when “The Mummy” bombed earlier this summer. Speaking to TimesTalks, the director revealed his one career regret was turning down Universal’s offer to helm the Dark Universe. As “The Shape of Water,” del Toro’s riff on “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” enters the awards race buoyed by stellar reviews, it’s bittersweet to imagine what might have been.

“I’ve said no to things that are enormous and I’ve never looked back,” del Toro told film critic Logan Hill. “The only time I repent I didn’t do something was in 2007 when Universal, in an incredibly gentle and beautiful manner said, ‘do you want to take over the Monster Universe?’ And they gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn’t do it. That I repent. So this is a confessional moment, I repent. That’s the only thing.”

Characteristically chipper, del Toro took the regret in stride: “Mistakes teach you a lot. I think you learn more from failure and mistakes than you do from success.”

“The Shape of Water” stars Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer, and opens in theaters December 1.

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