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Interview: Cinematographer Dan Laustsen on Working With Guillermo del Toro and the Look of ‘Nightmare Alley’

It’s a beautiful thing to see a cinematographer and a director working in concert with each other. When a DP and a filmmaker have a special sort of harmony, movies just look better and better. Over the years, Guillermo del Toro has fashioned several film projects with the help of Dan Laustsen and his cinematography. They include Crimson Peak, Mimic, and The Shape of Water (which scored Laustsen an Academy Award nomination). He’s also shot all of the John Wick sequels, as well as a stylish horror effort in Silent Hill, to name some of his other credits. Now, del Toro and Laustsen have teamed up again for Nightmare Alley. During the flick’s Press Day last year (where we also spoke to composer Nathan Johnson here), I was lucky enough to get some time with the cinematographer, with that conversation coming your way today.

This is a small bit of what I said about Nightmare Alley in my review:

Co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, along with co-writer Kim Morgan, crafts a new take on Nightmare Alley. Given the story they’re telling, the project does come off as bloated feeling. The script is fine, and del Toro’s direction is impeccable, but the pacing is rough. Now, you feel every bit of the two and a half hour running time, though it’s never boring, which is an unusual issue. Luckily, cinematographer Dan Laustsen and composer Nathan Johnson are doing great work, so the tech aspects are wonderful as well.

Below, you can hear my discussion with Laustsen. I was very curious to hear about what his process with del Toro is like. In particular, Nightmare Alley has such a noir inspired look, I wanted to know how much those types of works influenced him. The answer may surprise you. Be sure to listen to our chat, as well as give the film a shot. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, now is the time…

Here now is my interview with Nightmare Alley cinematographer Dan Laustsen. Enjoy:

Nightmare Alley is in theaters now!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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