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Guillermo del Toro: ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Almost Kept Me from Pitching ‘The Shape of Water’ Star Sally Hawkins

It took lots of convincing to get the director off his couch one fateful Sunday.

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”


Guillermo del Toro owes two famous friends and 14 tequila shots for his serendipitous introduction to Sally Hawkins, star of his Golden Lion–winning Oscar contender, “The Shape of Water.” On January 12, 2014, he received a call from from fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, who instructed him, “‘Dude, come over to the Golden Globes party'”; Cuarón had won the evening’s Best Director statuette for “Gravity.” At Vulture Festival this weekend, del Toro recalled his reply: “I’m not going. I’m watching ‘Antiques Roadshow.'”

Read More: ‘The Shape of Water’ Trailer: Sally Hawkins Gives a Wordless Performance in Guillermo del Toro’s Fantastical Romance — Watch

But they were insistent, and sent a car to retrieve him from his home in Angoura Hills, California. “Because I’m fat, my body mass requires enormous amounts of alcohol,” del Toro explained to the audience at The Hollywood Roosevelt, seated next to his six-time collaborator, actor Doug Jones. “And I get sober super fast, and I don’t get hungover. So I recommend you all get fat.”

The aforementioned shots left him “a little buzzed.” “I go, ‘Okay guys, let’s catch up,’ and they say, ‘We changed our mind[s], we’re not going to drink,'” cueing del Toro’s exit. As he neared the door, however, he spotted Hawkins, a nominee that night for “Blue Jasmine,” whose agent he’d already contacted about another role. “‘Sally! Guillermo!’ and I hug her and I go, ‘I’m writing a movie for you, will you fall in love with a fish man?’ And she says, ‘Great!'”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (L) and actor Doug Jones speak onstage during the 'Shape of Water' event, part of Vulture Festival LA Presented by AT&T at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on November 18, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

Cuarón declared the resulting film — which came in under budget, at $19.5 million — “amazingly sublime,” and del Toro says it’s among the most personal of his 10 features. “Three movies in my life have come to me at really, really, really low points in my life, and they have saved my — I wouldn’t say sanity — but my life, really,” he said.

First, “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001) provided solace following “a catastrophic experience with ‘Mimic,’ at Miramax/Dimension, which is still the worst experience I’ve ever had.” Five years later, he said the idea for “Pan’s Labyrinth” arrived when he was “questioning many, many things,” including “what we do, what we leave behind, [and] who we are.” The film won three Oscars.

Read More: ‘The Shape of Water’ Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Lush Fairy Tale Is a Powerful Vision of Love

Del Toro, 53, was feeling “great darkness” when he though up “The Shape of Water” — a Cold War-era romance between a mute janitor (Hawkins) and a creature imprisoned inside the lab where she works (Jones), often referred to as “the asset” (credited as “Amphibian Man”). “A mentor in Mexico — one of the filmmakers I admire the most — he saw it and he said, ‘You’ve finally exhaled,'” revealed del Toro, who will take a directing hiatus through September 2018.

“This movie is a healing movie for me…For nine movies I rephrased the fears of my childhood, the dreams of my childhood, and this is the first time I speak as an adult, about something that worries me as an adult. I speak about trust, otherness, sex, love, where we’re going. These are not concerns that I had when I was nine or seven.”

“The Shape of Water” opens in New York on December 1 before expanding to additional cities. 

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