Guillermo del Toro is doing full-on gothic romance in his new movie Crimson Peak, and he told us to expect “kinky,” unsettling action. We talked to the stars at Comic-Con, and asked Tom Hiddleston about the movie’s transgressive sexuality. And Jessica Chastain told us she was covered with bruises.
Minor spoilers ahead...
In Crimson Peak, a young American (Mia Wasikowska) goes to live in a very old house, with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Chastain). And she soon discovers that the Sharpe siblings have a lot of secrets, and the house is full of terrifying apparitions. Here’s what the stars told us about the film, when we caught up with them at Comic-Con.
So how incestuous is the incest in this movie?
Whoa! (Makes shocked expression) Come on now...
The thing about gothic romance is, there’s always a sexuality at play. And incest has been something that’s been hinted at by other novels in the genre. But I’m not going to lay it on with anything too hard for you guys. (Smiles) It’s an interesting dynamic. They’re a brother and a sister who’ve been orphaned, and they’re in this big old house, and they have a very deep connection. But there’s a lot of other romantic elements in the film, too.
The house is sort of the main character in the story, right? Does your character have a love/hate relationship with this house? Is he tied to this old house, but wants to get away from it?
Well, that’s what’s interesting about all of us. We try to live in the moment. You and I, all of us—we try to live in the here and now, in the present. And we carry the past with us. If you haven’t sorted through the boxes in the attic of your past, they can run your life. And Thomas Sharpe has a very old house, with a lot of dark secrets. And he would love to [escape]. He has a compulsion to live in the future, to create. He’s an inventor, an engineer. He wants to make things. But his inheritance is very complex. His physical inheritance is this dilapidated mansion, which has lots of dark secrets. And his emotional and psychological inheritance that ways very heavily on his soul.
So Guillermo del Toro has said this is a very hard R-rated film. Were there scenes that were so revolting or so intense that were very hard to film?
Yeah, there were some hard scenes, yeah.
I read that Guillermo del Toro made a full body cast of you. What was that for? Were there some scenes that were physically kind of insane?
I think with Guillermo’s films, he makes a full-body cast of everyone. (Laughs) I mean, maybe I’m mistaken. But I think [so]. I think it’s DDT, they’re an incredible special effects makeup company. I’ve worked with them twice—no, three times, now. Mama, Crimson Peak... and I just worked with them a little bit on The Huntsman, with some scars. And they’re amazing. I think it’s just that Guillermo started in makeup, and anything he can do for that, he does. So we have the option.
So are there any scenes in this that were so revolting, or so emotionally intense, that they were incredibly difficult to film, in particular?
Yeah, there were a lot. I don’t want to give any spoilers away. There was one scene in particular that was very difficult for me to film. And my character was emotional. There’s a sequence in the film that goes on for ever (laughs) and it’s physically draining and emotionally draining. I was saying earlier that I hope at some point to see some behind the scenes pics of all of us in the scene. Because I imagine when we weren’t filming, we were just like ((makes a droopy face)). I was covered in bruises, and that was tough.
[Also, we heard Chastain telling other reporters that she was wearing an elaborate costume that weighed a lot, and included lots of stuff that kept her posture stiff and restricted her movements, partly because that was how del Toro saw her character. And Chastain was offered the role of Edith Cushing, the film’s heroine, but chose to play the antagonist instead because she wanted to try something she’d never done before—but she joked that she might not want to stretch out quite that much ever again.]
This movie’s being compared a lot to Jane Eyre. You actually did a Jane Eyre movie, a few years ago. Do you feel like your character goes through a similar transformation and emotional awakening in this film?
Maybe. They seem quite different to me, but there’s definitely a similarity—maybe even just in that time and setting, I guess. But yeah, I love both of them. They seem different to me, but also the productions felt so different. But yeah, it’s definitely a journey of self-discovery and finding out who you are. Thinking you know who you are, and then meeting a bunch of things that test that. And then having to make choices about your life at the end.
Your character is an American who goes to in England. Is this all about discovering the horror of the British class system?
Yeah, somewhat. She moves to this crumbling mansion, and the dynamic the family that she’s just joined, and the way that they live, is kind of eye-opening for her. Because she had a very comfortable upbringing.
Which love triangle is more intense: the one between your character, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam, or the one between you, Tom, and Jessica Chastain?
I guess that’s so subjective. Everyone will connect to something different. But they’re both very different.