When Guillermo del Toro and Cate Blanchett worked together on Nightmare Alley, they had such a good time shooting that the actress asked if the two could work together again immediately — even if it meant she had to play a monkey.
Guillermo del Toro told the story of how Blanchett ended up voicing the monkey in his new Netflix film Pinocchio at a recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival Cinema Society event.
“We were shooting Nightmare Alley, which, if you haven’t seen it, you’re not alone,” Del Toro joked to a giggling crowd. “We were having such a good time shooting it, and [Cate Blanchett] said, ‘Can I work with you right away?’ And I said, ‘Well, every [role is taken] in Pinocchio.’ She says. ‘Anything.’ And I said, ‘Well, there is a monkey. And she said, ‘I’ll do it.'”
Cate Blanchett was so intent on being in Pinocchio, Del Toro says, that shortly before shooting was meant to start, she declared her love for the monkey once more for good measure.
“When she saw I was supposed to do it, she said, ‘I think this monkey is my spirit animal,'” Del Toro said.
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And Blanchett didn’t just want to do her voice acting the easy way. Rather than doing a sampler of the monkey’s different emotions that could be edited together later, as is the usual practice — “excited monkey, angry monkey, sad monkey,” Del Toro said — Blanchett asked to do the voice-over shot-by-shot. The result is I’m Not There actress showing off her comedic chops.
“The thing that is very, very hard to fathom with Cate is she is one of the greatest actors of all time/ She’s incredible at her profession. But she’s funny,” Del Toro said. “She’s so damn funny. So she tried everything, and she voices the monkey and the puppets of the monkey.”
The voice cast of Pinocchio also includes Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Ron Perlman, Gregory Mann, Finn Wolfhard, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio arrives Dec. 9 on Netflix.
Main Image: A still from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio