Director Guillermo del Toro has described the script for his upcoming film Crimson Peak, his first ghost-themed horror film since The Devil's Backbone, as a classic Gothic romance with a mix of kinky and scary moments, set in a haunted house in England. It definitely sounds like an interesting project from a director with a lot of great vision, which was why it was both surprising and disappointing to hear that Benedict Cumberbatch, who was signed on for a major role, had walked away from Crimson Peak entirely.
At the time we speculated that Thor: The Dark World star Tom Hiddleston - who is Cumberbatch's unofficial twin in terms of the roles the two of them tend to get, their physical appearances and their general public personas - seemed like the best fit to step into the place recently vacated by Cumberbatch, and it looks like Del Toro was thinking along similar lines. We've just learned Hiddleston has been cast in Crimson Peak, which is set to begin shooting in January 2014.
The reasons behind Cumberbatch's decision to drop out of Crimson Peak remains a mystery. Considering how in-demand he is, scheduling conflicts would seem like an obvious explanation, but sources at THR claim that his departure was not due to another project. Perhaps it's due to creative differences, personal reasons, or a secret deal to star in another film - or perhaps Cumberbatch just needs a vacation.
The cast that Hiddleston is joining also includes Charlie Hunnam, who recently appeared in del Toro's monsters vs. mechs movie Pacific Rim, Jessica Chastain (Mama), Supernatural's Jim Beaver and another Pacific Rim star, Burn Gorman. Emma Stone was also attached to star for a while before dropping out due to a scheduling conflict, and seems to have been replaced by Stoker star Mia Wasikowska.
The production start date has actually jumped forward by about six months from its original summer 2014 schedule, so expect to see casting firm up before then. Based on what we know so far, however, Crimson Peak could end up being a very self-contained movie with quite a small cast.
Hiddleston's followers will no doubt fill any loss of interest due to Cumberbatch's departure (though, as mentioned before, the two actors seem to share a collective fanbase), but even without either actor this return to straight horror will definitely be worth watching to find out if del Toro still has the talent for the genre that he displayed in his early years.
Crimson Peak is expected to release some time in 2015.