Best Director – Motion Picture
BEST DIRECTOR ‑ MOTION PICTURE
Guillermo Del Toro ‑ “The Shape of Water”
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Oh, wow. I was hoping to wipe my nose with this (notecard).
Since childhood, I’ve been faithful to monsters. I have been saved and absolved by them because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection and they allow and embody the possibility of fail and live. For 25 years, I have helped crafted very strange little tales made of motion, color, light, and shadow. And in many of these instances, in three precise instances, these strange stories, these fables have saved my life. One through “Devil’s Backbone,” one through “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and now with “Shape of Water,” because as directors, these things are not just entries in a filmography. We have made a deal with a particularly inefficient devil that trades three years of our life for one entry and I am living proof. And these things are biography and they are life.
And I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Fox Searchlight. And I wouldn’t be here ‑‑ lower the music, guys. Come on. It’s taken 25 years. Give me a minute. Give me a minute.
I wouldn’t be here without my cast, my crew, and I want to mention a few fantastic women sitting at the table ‑‑ *Sharon, Nancy, Octavia, Sally, *Kimmy, and Vanessa ‑‑ without whom I wouldn’t be here. I thank you. My monsters thank you. And somewhere Lon Chaney is smiling upon all of us. Thank you very much.
Q How was it for you, that movie? It’s just like — in connection with things that are happening right now? I mean, that’s pretty — it could be very new for a movie that is so involved in fantasy to deal with. You mentioned that you know, of course, trauma is going to be resonant, writing that. Did you know that these things with Harvey Weinstein were happening?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yes.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I think fables and fairy tales, they were created to address things that you cannot address as easily and embody as beautifully as you do with parables, which is what we are. And I think the important thing tonight in many ways is that there was Jordan Peele, and there was “The Shape of Water” — “Get Out” and “The Shape of Water,” standing in a legitimate, beautiful way next to a drama, a comedy, a musical, action, war, everything, you know. We have a place in the cinematic conversation that has led to the creation of beautiful, powerful images but also thematic weight, and I think that this was very present for me as it is for anybody
that lives as the honor in a society. It was very pressing for me to talk about it, and they talked about it through this fable.
Q Looking forward, do you want to impact what kind of stories you want to tell or ways you want to tell them?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I’ve been very stubborn for many, many years. So I only do the stories I want to tell. I only do them the way I want to tell them. Sometimes you find a bigger audience. Sometimes you find a smaller audience. Sometimes you find a deep connection with people and blah, blah, blah. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and with the exception of 1997 mimic, which was a very difficult production that was compromised, other than that, the movies I’ve made are movies that I feel I need to make. That is going to continue even more strong now. What is beautiful is to do it now from an adult point of view in a way, from a different point of view in my life and career in storytelling. So this is a great blessing, and it’s a pat on the back to continue.
Q A few years ago, our President, being the President of the United States (unintelligible). So I want to ask you a question if you’d be interested to make a movie with this character as your protagonist. Would you like to make a movie about Trump in your life?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I think that you have to do movies around things that are close to you, that you understand, that you want to use as part of your storytelling kit or your own life. I mean, all my movies are strangely autobiographical, and they end up lining up with social concerns or not. I think that you cannot impose something like that as a model. It has to come from you. I think the movie is very pertinent to now, “The Shape of Water,” and it’s not because I tried to make it so. It just happened to be.
Q So, in the future, would you make one? No?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I am interested in different types of movies.
Q This is a beautiful love story that you’ve won for, but you also tweeted very lovingly, also telling stories that young women can see. They don’t always have to be part of a love story. How do you balance those two things in your work?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I think you approach each character with a different concern. When I write somebody like Mercedes in Pan-Slavism, I’m writing a very strong woman that is part of the resistance, the gorilla in post-war Spain, you know. And then you do it, and you don’t superimpose a pattern of a love story on top of that. You are sincere with your character. You provide the best possible tools for the character to articulate. When you do somebody like Michael Moore on “Pacific Rim” or when you do somebody like Jessica Chastain, I love writing these characters. And each of them tells you what they need, and if they need a love story, by God, you write them a great love story. But even then, even when you write a love story, you can do it consciously, trying to not tell the one story because, in most deceptions of “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s almost like a Stockholm syndrome in which beauty is kidnapped by this figure and develops a relationship with, and then the beast has to transform into the most boring prince to have a relationship. And “The Shape of Water” ends both things, you know. The female character is the engine of change on every single thing that happens in the film, and the beast remains the beast because I don’t think love is about transformation and changing the person but understanding the person. So even then you don’t have to do the usual love story.
Q You really understand having extraordinary ability to work into the shadow side, into the darker side —
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yes.
Q — of human nature and fantasy, but you also are a really joyful and loving person.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yes.
Q So how do you find that balance?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: I’m Mexican. You know, no one loves life more than we do in a way because we are so conscious about death, the preciousness of life standing side to side. So the one place we are all going to, it’s like everybody in this planet boarded a train that the final destination was death. So the train we are going to live, we are going to have beauty and love and freedom. And I think that when you eliminate one of the two sides from the equation, it’s a (unintelligible). When you take from the dark to show the light, it’s reality.
Q Now, there are so many movies, so many TV shows with imaginative characters, aliens, monsters. Do you say, “How do I do this differently?” because, after a while, for me, so many aliens look the same in every movie. Do you know what I mean? How do you come up with the practical answer to creating something unique when so many people are doing it?
GUILLERMO DEL TORO: What I think you need to do is you do not drink from the source that has been done. You have to — a visual vocabulary is the same as a spoken vocabulary. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug,” and it is the same with the visual design. If your culture encompasses fine paintings, sculpture, architecture, pop culture, illustration, comics, you have a breadth of language in which you are going to articulate a design and not have it be something somebody already did.