As we stroll closer to the premiere date for Guillermo del Toro’s (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) Nightmare Alley, we are being treated with some new character posters. The Academy-Award-winning director isn’t the only star powering this film, as a star-studded ensemble cast joins in to tie this film together. The lineup includes: Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born, American Sniper), Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Carol), Toni Collette (Hereditary, Knives Out), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), Rooney Mara (Carol), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), David Strathairn (Nomadland), Clifton Collins Jr. (The Last Castle), and Mary Steenburgen (Book Club).
The film will center around a group of carnival workers with Cooper’s character, Stanton “Stan” Carlisle, as the focus. Stan is dangerously cunning and deceptive and when he pairs his skills with that of psychiatrist Dr. Lillith Ritter (Blanchett), the duo is sure to show themselves even more devious and toxic to all those around them.
In Cooper’s character poster, we see the actor standing up against carnival-themed wallpaper that seems to be a similar background for each of the shots. Cooper is dressed in a suit with a crisp white shirt and patterned blue and white tie to match his eyes. He keeps a short trimmed beard and slicked-back hair. We can totally feel the conman vibe coming from the ever-charming Cooper as he looks forward into the camera.
Blanchett’s background is a different section of the same wallpaper which features more of a stone color swirling behind the actress who stands in the foreground, half scowling, half smirking. Her hair is perfectly coiffed and pinned and she is wearing a velvet-looking black dress that crosses over her chest. Based on the look she is shooting the camera, we can guess that her wheels are always turning and looking for her next con.
Mara stands in front of a mix of the wallpaper, part Blanchett’s stone background and part Cooper’s carnival-themed background. We may be reading into this, but could this be showing the actresses’ character torn between the two? Or maybe between the secrets they hold? We’ll have to wait to find out. What we can see is the actresses’ dark hair laid perfectly outlining her face, casting a half shadow on one side. Her red lipstick gives her a pop as her expression is rather empty, possibly giving us another look into the soul of the character.
Dafoe is in front of the full-on carnival-themed wallpaper. Behind him, we see pictures of The House of Damnation and Baby Cyclops as well as a few others. The actor smirks at the camera with a hat on his head and a finely kept mustache. He’s also sporting an olive-colored button-up shirt with a leather jacket to fully pull his look together.
Collette looks all-knowing in her photo in front of the carnival wallpaper. Behind her, we see a picture of “Zeena the Mentalist,” which gives us quite a clue into why Collette looks this way. With a hand over her chest, the actress looks like she is casting her eyes into the viewer’s soul. With a light blue and gold color scheme, she dons a head wrapping and light, flowing dress along with curled blonde hair and red lips. She also sports several gold rings and a gold necklace as she gazes forward almost through the camera.
Perlman is our next subject in front of the carnival background. He has a simple costume of just a black shirt and leopard print sash over one shoulder. As he stares ahead with short hair and light stubble, we can also see that his background features a drawing of a man lifting weights with a label of which we can only make out the words “Bruno” and “strong”. It looks like Perlman may be the carnival’s strong man.
Next up is Strathairn who, standing in front of the carnival wallpaper, dons a slightly off-kilter black hat atop his white hair. He looks tired and overworked as he stares suspiciously into the camera’s lens. His look is made complete with an old, well-worn striped shirt and black vest.
Jenkins poses strongly in front of the stone-looking wallpaper as he looks on with tortoiseshell round glasses. His well-styled hair and trimmed beard pull his suit look together along with his determined facial expression, making us think he will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming film.
Finally, we see Steenburgen who is up against the stone swirling backdrop. The actress is the only one not looking directly at the camera as she looks off to the side with a slight smile and curled hair. Her dress looks simple but with lace at the top to pull it all together.
It’s cliché to say, but a picture really is worth a thousand words, and with these new character posters, we are starting to get the full image of what some of del Toro’s characters will look like when Nightmare Alley comes to theaters on December 17.
Johnson has also composed the scores for 'Looper,' 'Brick,' and 'Don Jon.'
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