Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham, may have found its leading man in Leonardo DiCaprio. The Academy Award-winning actor is currently in talks to star in the production, with del Toro attached to direct.
The original 1947 Nightmare Alley film was a big budget noir film that centered on the rise and fall of a young con man, Stanton "The Great Stanton" Carlisle (originally played by Tyrone Powers), as he tried to make a career as a carnival swindler and fake psychic who preyed on psychiatric patients. The film was an adaptation based on William Lindsay Grisham's novel of the same name that came out in 1946. The film script will be penned by del Toro and Kim Morgan. This will be del Toro's first time directing a feature since his Oscar win for 2017's The Shape of Water.
Variety reports that DiCaprio is in negotiations to lead del Toro's take on the source material. The project will be produced by del Toro, J. Miles Davis, and TSG Entertainment and distributed by Fox Searchlight. It's scheduled to begin shooting this fall, after del Toro has finished assembling his cast. There's no word yet whether or not DiCaprio would play a direct update of Powers's version of Stanton as a carnival barker, or if there will be a more modernized take on the character.
DiCaprio has not starred in a major film since his Oscar-winning turn as Hugh Glass in 2015's The Revenant. That role landed him his first Academy Award, and he's since been busy developing projects. His next onscreen role will be in the Quentin Tarantino 1960s period piece Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There's also a chance that audiences will see him in Martin Scorsese's next film, Killers of the Flower Moon, before they see him in Nightmare Alley. At the same time, del Toro's focus has been on his Dreamworks animated series, Trollhunters and 3Below, and a stop-motion retelling of Pinocchio scheduled for a Netflix release in 2021. He serves as writer, director, and producer for all three projects.
DiCaprio and del Toro are both very careful when choosing what films to take on, especially since their respective Oscar wins. If DiCaprio does ultimately sign on as the film's lead, it'll undoubtedly attract a large pool of high caliber actors. Because the script is still being written, solid information about the project is scarce. However, with plans to being filming in fall, cast announcements are expected within the next few months. For now, the prospect of the two Oscar winners teaming up for Nightmare Alley will likely keep fans curious and hopeful for del Toro's return.
Update (11AM EST, April 24): Updated post to clarify that del Toro's Nightmare Alley is not a remake of the 1947 film but a new adaptation of the 1946 novel.