Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone line up for Del Toro's 'Crimson Peak'

Posted by · 11:51 am · April 5th, 2013

The online geek press is lined up and ready to love Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” and I’ve been wondering lately if they might be doing a bit of a disservice to it with such overwhelming hype. I’ve read the script, which has surely been studio-noted and then some since. It was elegantly written by Travis Beacham and what’s most exciting is that an original concept, without the benefit of built-in fandom, got this kind of love in the studio system. So I’m looking forward to it, definitely. I just wish the noise would die down just a little bit, that’s all.

In the meantime, the project has allowed Del Toro the chance to break out something like “Crimson Peak,” a haunted house picture that could use the success of something like “Pacific Rim” to find its footing. And people are lining up to be a part of it, as Deadline today reports that Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone and Charlie Hunnam have all signed on to star. Hunnam also stars in “Pacific Rim.”

Del Toro wrote the script with Matthew Robbins, with whom he’s collaborated on a number of projects, but only one of them, “Mimic,” has made it to the screen so far. Here’s what he told HitFix’s Drew McWeeney of “Crimson Peak” back in December, when it was revealed that the project had been picked up by Legendary Pictures out of turnaround from Universal:

“We wrote it ‘hush-hush’ as a spec in and around 2006. Universal acquired it by a big spec sum. It was to be my ‘next’ and then ‘Hellboy’ came through and then ‘The Hobbit.’ I have been keeping it close to my heart and vest and, fortunately, the interwebs never quite spoke about it. But when I came out of ‘Hobbit’ and said I was intending to resurrect a project of yore, this and ‘Montecristo’ were, alongside with ‘At the Mountains of Madness,’ the things I pushed for.”

So obviously it’s something that he’s personally invested in, and it’s nice that “Pacific Rim” is helping it to have its day. And naturally, these are some great gets on the cast. Stone is hot off the “Spider-Man” re-boot and Cumberbatch will really ignite in the public consciousness after “Star Trek Into Darkness” hits this summer.

Chastain in particular is a great get, coming off awards season success for her work in Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” Del Toro tapped her for January genre pic “Mama,” which he produced, and back around that film’s release, he told HitFix about his “prolonged courtship” of the actress back before she really blew up in films like “The Tree of Life” and “The Help” in 2011.

“Back in the day, Jessica Chastain was not well known,” he told us at the time. “But she was already very prestigious and very choosy about what she wanted to do. So I started a very, very slow, prolonged courtship of her manager, her agent.”

That led to her nailing the part, which, along with “Zero Dark Thirty,” put her in the rare air of being an actress with a one-two punch atop the box office chart in the very same weekend.

Del Toro told Deadline that “Crimson Peak” is “a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story. It will allow me to play with the conventions of the genre I know and love, and at the same time subvert the old rules.”

Well…I’m stoked.

(By the way, if you haven’t checked out Drew’s interview with Del Toro about “Pacific Rim” from Wonder Con, it’s definitely worth a look.)

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