Much has been made about the fact Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar win for Best Director marked the fourth Mexican winner in five years. The statistic is all the more celebratory since the Mexican directors who won before del Toro happen to be his very good friends Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity” in 2013) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“Birdman” in 2014, “The Revenant” in 2015). The directors are collectively known as The Three Amigos.
In Variety’s new cover story on del Toro’s Oscar win, both Cuarón and Alejandro G. Iñárritu celebrate “The Shape of Water” visionary and welcome him into the Oscars’ winner’s circle. Iñárritu first met del Toro almost 20 years ago when he was working on his first feature, “Amores perros.” Del Toro traveled to Mexico City to help edit the movie. According to Iñárritu, del Toro is still the same big-eyed dreamer he met nearly two decades ago.
“His wisdom has evolved, but his essence is the same,” Iñárritu said. “That’s generosity, friendship and passion for cinema. He still has those same big, round, sparkly green eyes that only a pure and curious kid can have.”
Iñárritu is especially pleased del Toro won the Oscar for “The Shape of Water,” a film he instantly knew was the director’s best after the first viewing. “I knew and told him it was his best film,” Iñárritu said. “And I love ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ but this is just brilliant, beautiful and delicious.”
Cuarón remembered meeting del Toro in a much different light: “He had seen my first directorial effort [in anthology series] ‘Hora marcada,’ and he asked me why the story was so good, because the episode sucked so much. It was the way he said it that I couldn’t help but laugh and laugh, because he was right.”
The “Children of Men” and “Gravity” director said del Toro’s “wisdom has become more acute, his generosity greater and humor more precise” in the years since their first meeting. The bond between them naturally made del Toro’s Oscar-winning moment all the more emotional.
“It’s a surprisingly emotional experience that connects directly with our longing,” Cuarón said. “I saw Guillermo’s heart sculpted in two hours of film. I rarely cry watching films, except if I’m on a plane at 30,000 feet, where I can cry in the comfort of my seat and no one pays attention. But when I saw ‘The Shape of Water,’ I found myself crying, and I still do every time I see it.”
Del Toro may be the last of the The Three Amigos to win the Best Director trophy, but that doesn’t mean their Oscars dominance is going to be over anytime soon. Cuarón’s family drama “Roma” is widely expected to be ready for this year’s festival circuit, which means he could very well become the fifth Mexican winner in six years.
Head over to Variety to read their del Toro cover story in its entirety.