Coming in to direct , writer/director Steven DeKnight had some seriously big shoes to fill. Not only was he making his feature debut with the hotly-anticipated sequel, but he was also following-up a film made by one of the industry’s most talented auteurs: Guillermo del Toro. That’s a whole lot of pressure for anyone to take on — but there was a silver lining. Working on the project meant DeKnight had the chance to sit down with the filmmaker, and as he recently told me in an interview, in the process he received some extremely vital advice:
I pitched [Guillermo del Toro] what I was thinking, he really liked it, he gave me some great suggestions. And one of the best words of advice he gave me was, ‘Look, it’s a marathon. It’s a long haul. So just pace yourself, and if you ever need anything from me give me a shout. Otherwise I want to stay out of your hair. Make it your movie.’ Which, to get that kind of blessing from him, was amazing. Because right as I was starting to prep, he was going off to prep . And he finished that and went into post-production when I was halfway through shooting this movie. That’s the reason he didn’t do this movie, was because of — and it worked out great for him, and it worked out great for me! Win-win!
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Steven DeKnight earlier this month at the Los Angeles press day for , and it was at the very start of the interview that we discussed the influence of Guillermo del Toro on his new film. It was just days after the Mexican filmmaker won both the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for his work on , and it was with that in mind I asked about his role in the making of the new sequel. Because of scheduling he was forced to be mostly hands off, but apparently he did find time to chat with DeKnight about his vision for the sequel, and offered some helpful suggestions to make the whole thing go as easily as possible.
Interestingly, Steven DeKnight meeting Guillermo del Toro was actually the last piece of the puzzle for him when it came to really preparing for . In the early days of the project he earned the approval of Legendary Pictures producers Mary Parent and Thomas Tull — but he also explained to me that del Toro’s approval was massively important, partially because of his own deep appreciation for his art. Said DeKnight,
Guillermo was the last person I had to get the sign off from for the movie. And he was fantastic. Anyone who has spent five minutes… what you see with Guillermo, that’s exactly who Guillermo is. He’s warm, he’s wonderful, he’s a true genius. I’ve been a fan since . I’ve gone to the theater to see every single one of his movies, own all of his DVDs, poured through the extra features, the commentary, own all of his books on the making-ofs of all his movies. So I’ve been a really hardcore Guillermo fan, and to just get the chance to sit down with him and talk with him was a thrill, regardless of whether or not I could direct the movie.
Click play on the video below to watch Steven DeKnight talk all about his relationship with Guillermo del Toro and the key influence and advice he provided in the making of :
Because Steven DeKnight and Guillermo del Toro are two very different filmmakers, is a change-up from the original — and you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself. After five years of waiting, the blockbuster is arriving on the big screen this Friday, March 23rd — and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with the cast and filmmakers behind the movie!