Nightmare Alley — a.k.a. the Cate Blanchett carny movie, a.k.a. the Carol reunion, a.k.a. the next film from Oscar-winning The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro — has officially begun filming this week in Toronto. That means we now have a confirmed cast list and official plot specifics.

Blanchett, obviously, is in the movie. (It’s the Cate Blanchett carny movie, after all!) A Star Is Born‘s Bradley Cooper was also previously reported for a leading role, having replaced Leonardo DiCaprio who was circling. Additionally confirmed are Toni Collette (whose Knives are Out), The Lighthouse‘s Willem Dafoe, The Shape of Water‘s Richard Jenkins, Blanchett’s Carol co-star Rooney Mara, frequent del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman (who introduced the filmmaker to the movie’s source material, so he better be in this), and Lincoln‘s David Strathairn.

Based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley stars Cooper as “an ambitious young carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words.” According to the formal logline, he “hooks up with a female psychiatrist” — that would be Blanchett — “who is even more dangerous than he is.”

Cate Blanchett; Bradley Cooper; Rooney Mara
Credit: Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images; George Pimentel/Getty Images; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Mara plays carnival worker Molly, Dafoe takes on head carnival barker Clem, Perlman will transform into Bruno the Strongman, and Jenkins plays “wealthy industrialist Ezra Grindle.” No, there isn’t a supernatural element to it.

“I’m inspired and elated to be joined by this brilliant cast,” del Toro said in a statement. The director also co-wrote the script with Kim Morgan (The Forbidden Room), and he mentions they worked “to bring the dark, raw world and language of William Gresham to the screen and now we are joined by a superb group of artists and technicians to bring it to life.”

A number of these technicians worked on The Shape of Water, including costume designer Luis Sequeira, cinematographer Dan Laustsen, VFX supervisor Dennis Berardi, and film editor Cam McLauchlin. Production designer Tamara Deverell, who worked with del Toro on FX’s The Strain, is also involved.

In case you also keep up with such things, the scrubbing of “Fox” from Fox Searchlight has taken effect. Nightmare Alley will be released by Searchlight Pictures.

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Nightmare Alley
Nightmare Alley (2021 movie)

Guillermo del Toro tries his hand at noir in this story about an ambitious young carny with a talent for manipulating people.

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