Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett Team Up as Master Manipulators in ‘Nightmare Alley’

Nightmare Alley cast

Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has recruited a huge all-star cast for his upcoming feature film Nightmare Alley.

The psychological thriller, which is slated for a December 2021 release, stars Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle — an ambitious former carnival worker with a gift for manipulating people, a talent he now uses as a famous nightclub performer who convinces rich people that he is a powerful mind reader.

Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett stars as Dr Lilith Ritter, a psychiatrist who might just prove to be even more dangerous than Stan and who becomes entangled in his nefarious ways after first attempting to expose him as a fraud.

“The carnival is almost like a microcosm of the world,” del Toro told Vanity Fair. “Everybody’s there to swindle everybody. But at the same time in the carnival, the [workers] know they need each other. In the city, much less so.”

Rounding out the all-star cast are Willem Dafoe as Clem Hoately, Toni Collette as tarot reader Zeena Krumbein, Richard Jenkins as Ezra Grindle, Ron Perlman as Bruno, Rooney Mara as Molly Cahill, Holt McCallany as Anderson, Tim Blake Nelson as Carny Boss, Mary Steenburgen as Miss Harrington, David Strathairn as Pete Krumbein, and Clifton Collins Jr.

Del Toro is best known for his fantasy films The Shape of Water (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture) and Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as movies such as Mimic, Hellboy and Pacific Rim.

Nightmare Alley, which is based on William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel of the same name, is a departure for the Mexican director as it contains no supernatural themes but rather, leans into the noir style of filmmaking that del Toro says he has been drawn to since he was a child. In 2019, del Toro told Collider that the film is very R-rated and said, “Now is the first chance I have to do a real underbelly of society type of movie. [There are] no supernatural elements. Just a straight, really dark story.”

In his interview with Vanity Fair, the director — who revealed he has been intrigued by the project since the 1990s — said, “From the beginning, our interest was to go for the novel, but it’s almost impossible to adapt because it has a very kaleidoscopic, very peculiar voice. You would need a six-hour miniseries and shifting points of view, and this and that. We started from the novel, and didn’t want to do a remake as much as a new adaptation.”

Watch the trailer for Nightmare Alley below.

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