January 11, 2018
“Lower the music, guys, one second.”
Guillermo del Toro was mid-acceptance speech at Sunday night’s Golden Globes when the orchestra began playing him off.
“It’s taken 25 years [to win this award],” The Shape Of Water director laughed. “Give me a minute. Give me a minute!”
Not only did his demand prompt cheers from the audience – but it was also effective, as the orchestra did in fact back off and allow him to finish.
Del Toro went on to complete his speech, later praised for its poignancy, in which he stressed that making movies had “saved his life” on three separate occasions.
“I understand that there’s a show to run and I understand that they needed to get going,”
“But there is also the need [for the winner] to acknowledge a few people that were integral to the process of the movie, and to finish your thought.”
Del Toro, who has also been nominated for best director at next month’s Baftas, adds that the walk from the table to the stage can be overwhelming, and therefore require some extra time to gather your thoughts.
“When you reach that stage, you want a moment to recompose yourself and say what you think, so you know, I felt I needed just a few more seconds,” he says.
Did anyone from the Globes tell him off for going over his allotted time?
“No no, the beautiful thing in the Globes is not that I asked for more time and the orchestra to be quiet, but that they gave it to me.
“That’s the remarkable thing. It was very generous and very moving.”
But del Toro’s acceptance speech wasn’t the only thing that caught viewers’ attention during the presentation of best director.
While introducing the category, actress Natalie Portman said: “And here are the all-male nominees.”
The camera panned to del Toro as she said it, but, he explains now, he hadn’t initially heard what she said.
“From where we were sitting, sometimes what is said on the stage in the microphone is very hard to hear,” he says.
“It’s one thing on TV, and one thing around [the auditorium]. I heard the category, and I was reacting to that, and it was only a few beats later that you heard what she said.
“So all the reactions in the room were delayed by a couple of beats. On camera they happen faster because the microphones were much clearer to the TV than in the room.”
Twitter erupted with praise for Portman’s efforts to draw attention to the gender imbalance in film directing.
And del Toro says he “absolutely” agrees more women behind the camera should be recognised at awards ceremonies.
“Particularly in this year, with the movies that Greta Gerwig [director of Lady Bird] or Patty Jenkins [Wonder Woman] have made, it’s very important I think to recognise it.
“There is a reason to do it, there is material to do it. The important thing is to recognise this season there are films that are very worthy, made by very good female storytellers.”
Del Toro is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment. Shortly after the Globes ceremony, he heard The Shape Of Water had also picked up the most nominations (12) at this year’s Bafta film awards.
“It felt fantastic… you feel elated to be in the conversation,” he says of the Bafta recognition.
“After 25 years, you know it doesn’t happen every time, so you learn to be grateful and humble, but also encouraged, and I think the Baftas have a stature and have a way to reach an audience and lift a movie above the end-of-year din or the beginning of awards season.
“That is significant for a film-maker, this [awards] season is about reaching the Olympics, and being in the Olympics is very good, you feel each round is important, not about you, but about the movie reaching an audience and being rewarded for taking a risk or being bold or inventive and unique.”
The Shape Of Water stars British actress Sally Hawkins as a janitor who forms a relationship with an amphibious creature being held in captivity.
During his Globes speech, del Toro credited the film, along with two of his others – 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth and 2001’s Devil’s Backbone – with “saving his life”.
“This movie’s ultimately a biography, and out of this really dark turmoil, you find a little bit of light. And that has happened to be several times in 25 years of storytelling,” he tells the BBC.
“It happened certainly on The Devil’s Backbone. I was at the end of my rope after having done only two movies, one of them – Mimic – was with Miramax Dimension, that was such a bad experience, such a harrowing experience, and then there was the kidnapping of my father shortly thereafter. After that, Devil’s Backbone picked me up and healed me.
“And in a different set of circumstances, that happened with Pan’s Labyrinth. These movies come out of that very dark night of the soul.”
The Shape Of Water is released in the UK on 14 February 2018.