Bradley Cooper has a few tricks up his sleeve in the first teaser trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” playing a nightclub and carnival performer able to convince audiences with cold-reading techniques that he’s a mind reader.
And while you might think that because this is a Guillermo del Toro film that his abilities are the real deal, he’s just a con man in a gritty, mysterious film noir and period drama.
“Is he man or is he beast,” a menacing carnival barker played by Willem Dafoe says in the teaser.
“Nightmare Alley” is based on a 1946 book by William Lindsay Gresham, which was also made into a movie starring Tyrone Power in 1947. Del Toro has considered the book a passion project for years, and the subject matter allowed “The Shape of Water” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” filmmaker to play in an entirely new genre than what we’re used to seeing from him.
In an interview and first look at the movie with Vanity Fair, del Toro said his version of the story is also something of a subversion of the classic film noir tropes. It replaces the hats and trench coats and imposing shadows for other style and mystique set inside the violent and crooked carnival where Cooper’s character makes his mark. And rather than a femme fatale who seduces the stoic man, Cooper’s character is what he describes as a “homme fatale” who manipulates and ensnares the film’s three strong female characters.
Starring alongside Cooper in the film is Cate Blanchett, who plays a psychiatrist that tries to expose Cooper’s character as a charlatan, only to become embroiled in his cons. The film also stars Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman and David Strathairn.
“Nightmare Alley” opens in theaters from Searchlight Pictures on Dec. 17. Check out the first trailer for the film here, and see a poster for the film below: