To Mia Wasikowska, the filmmaker Guillermo del Toro isn’t your typical crafter of big budget fantasias.
“Visionaries don’t always care about the emotional side of things,” the actress says. “What makes him powerful and resonate with people is that he never sacrifices the emotional drive of the story for the frights.”
Wasikowska says del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” wrecked her, and she’s similarly gushy about “Crimson Peak,” a Gothic romantic horror in which she finally gets to work with him. She plays Edith, an aspiring writer in the 19th century who winds up interred in a massive, awe-inspiring house haunted by both ghosts and dastardly siblings (Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain). Even though the people are more malevolent than the spirits, Wasikowska notes how they come off as more damaged than evil.
“The fear comes from knowing these characters and seeing how they disintegrate. That’s original. Not as many directors care that much on an emotional level,” she tells us.
Though the sets are big and the effects even sharper than the usual CGI, Wasikowska noted that del Toro never forgets about his actors — mostly just three of them, in this case. “Sometimes when it’s highly planned in a visual way it locks you into a certain thing that might not feel right. They want to achieve so much visually that you have to try hard to make that feel natural. That’s fine, that’s your job. Guillermo, though, always follows you emotionally.”