Guillermo del Toro has quietly assembled an impressive acting roster for his next feature-length directing project, Crimson Peak, his self-described throwback to old-fashioned haunted house genre movies – those which used extravagant sets as the playgrounds for weaving spooky yarns about the living being tormented by the most terrible of specters, from the outside world and within themselves (see: The Haunting (1963), The Shining, etc.).

Variety has broken the news story about Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain joining the Crimson Peak cast, some twenty-four hours after the organization revealed that fan-favorite Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays the antagonist in this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness) has also signed up for del Toro’s horror feature. These casting deals are being finalized well ahead of schedule, given that filming isn’t supposed to begin until early next year.

Here’s an informative excerpt from del Toro’s previous comments about the story for Crimson Peak:

“So it’s at the turn of the century and half of the movie takes place in America, and the other half takes place in a crumbling mansion in Cumbria [in England]. And basically it’s a ghost story and gothic romance, trying to subvert the rules of the usual gothic romance.”

Putting the pieces together so far, it sounds as though Cumberbatch might end up spending the majority of his time onscreen (or, rather, screen time spent playing a living character) during the England-based portion of the film. Not to mention, the casting of traditionally red-haired actresses in Chastain and Emma Stone as the female lead, suggests a linkage between their Crimson Peak characters (maybe they’re related or one is a descendant of the other).

Emma Stone in ‘Gangster Squad’

There’s certainly potential inherent to the Crimson Peaks setup (with it suggestions of reflective stories and events separated by time and space), as will be realized through a screenplay co-written by del Toro and playwright Lucinda Coxon – based on an earlier draft del Toro co-wrote with frequent collaborator Matthew Robbins (Mimic, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark). Similarly, I wonder if Stone and Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) – the latter being a native Englishman – are playing lovers from across the pond in one storyline, with Chastain and Cumberbatch doing likewise in the other narrative thread. Just thinking out loud…

On an different note: the ever busy Chastain, whose recent work includes a smaller role in Lawless, an Oscar-nominated performance in Zero Dark Thirty and a leading role in the del Toro-produced Mama, is reported to still be weighing the role of Jane for Harry Potter director David Yates’ upcoming Tarzan movie (her Crimson Peak commitment won’t present a scheduling conflict, it seems).

Crimson Peak is slated to begin filming by February 2014. We’ll keep you posted on an official release date.

Source: Variety