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Leonardo DiCaprio Eyes Lead Role in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’

Del Toro's is gearing up to adapt William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel of the same name.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Guillermo del Toro

Leonardo DiCaprio and Guillermo del Toro


Leonardo DiCaprio and Guillermo del Toro are nearing a collaboration on “Nightmare Alley,” the director’s adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name. Del Toro is developing “Nightmare Alley” at Fox Searchlight, the studio that handled the production and distribution of his Oscar-winner “The Shape of Water.” As first reported by Variety, DiCaprio has entered final negotiations to star in the lead role of mentalist and con artist Stanton “Stan” Carlisle. Tyrone Power played the character in the 1947 film adaptation, directed by Edmund Goulding and released by 20th Century Fox.

Del Toro stepped back from filmmaking after “The Shape of Water” won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The filmmaker followed-up the Oscar wins by deciding to produce projects such as André Øvredal’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (in theaters August 9) and Scott Cooper’s “Antlers,” also produced by Fox Searchlight. Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is now his second feature directorial effort in development following his stop-motion passion project “Pinocchio,” which has taken up shop at Netflix.

“Nightmare Alley” will give DiCaprio his next high profile leading role after Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” opening in theaters July 26. DiCaprio stars opposite Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in Tarantino’s latest. The actor is also gearing up to reunite with Martin Scorsese, who he worked with on “The Aviator” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” on the true story crime drama “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

How faithful del Toro plans to be with his “Nightmare Alley” remake remains to be seen. The original centered around an ambitious con-man who falls for a female psychiatrist, only for her to turn the tables on him. DiCaprio is the first actor attached to the project. Fox Searchlight, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, released “Shape of Water” to $192 million worldwide. “Nightmare Alley” joins Searchlight’s roster of upcoming film that also includes Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” Benh Zeitlin’s “Wendy,” Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland,” and Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s “Downhill.”

Production on “Nightmare Alley” is expected to begin this fall. No other cast members have been announced yet.

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