Guillermo del Toro’s First English-Language Film Almost Made Him Quit Hollywood For Good

Guillermo del Toro’s First English-Language Film Almost Made Him Quit Hollywood For Good
Image credit: Legion-Media

When you can't decide which is worse — working on your first Hollywood movie or your father being kidnapped.


  • Guillermo del Toro 's first English-language film was a war zone for the director both on and off the set.
  • Del Toro hated working on the film and it is rumored that he was fired for a while.
  • Del Toro believes his first Hollywood experience was terrible but it marked the birth of a new start.

In the kaleidoscopic world of Guillermo del Toro's cinematic journey, his first English-language film, Mimic, was a wild ride that nearly made the acclaimed director slam the Hollywood exit door. Long before the honors of the Academy Awards adorned del Toro's name, this '97 sci-fi shocker was taking shape against the backdrop of a troubled production, offering a glimpse into the early struggles of the maestro.

Set in what was then the near future, Mimic plunges audiences into the heart of Manhattan, where scientists are grappling with a deadly disease spread by cockroaches that have claimed the lives of countless children. The solution? A special "Judas breed" of genetically modified cockroaches designed to wipe out the disease-carrying insects and save the city from an epidemic.

But the story takes a sinister turn when the Judas insects, intended as saviors, evolve at an alarming rate. Rapidly transforming into human-like predators, they begin to hunt much larger prey — the citizens of Manhattan. Sounds wild, right? Well, the behind-the-scenes chaos was even wilder and nearly caused del Toro to throw in the Hollywood towel.

Mimic Was a War On and Off Set

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For del Toro, who was knee-deep in a project that was testing his patience, Mimic became a war zone, not only against the monstrous insects but also against the troubled Hollywood studio system. It was a dance with Weinstein and Miramax Studio, where del Toro's disdain for the experience became very noticeable.

Let's add some spice to the story: Del Toro was reportedly fired from the film, leaving a vacuum that the lead star of his movie, Mira Sorvino, refused to accept. Her rebellion echoed louder than the cockroaches in Mimic, and the movie's success was a testament to her stance. But when the dust settled, guess who claimed the spotlight? Of course, Weinstein, who stepped in to steal the show.

And the plot thickens. At the 1988 Oscars James Cameron, del Toro's close friend, had almost the same experience as his industry colleague: after Cameron won the award for Best Editing, Weinstein tried to recruit the director, but the eleven-time Oscar winner wasn't having it. In a bold move, Cameron called out Weinstein for his treatment of del Toro, almost hitting him with his Oscar statuette.

The Birth of the Monster Movie King

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For del Toro, the late '90s brought not only the challenges of working with Weinstein but also the personal tragedy of his father's kidnapping. From del Toro's perspective, the latter seemed almost more understandable as at least he understood the motive. However, while filming Mimic left scars, both personal and professional, it also marked the birth of a filmmaker unwilling to succumb to the shadows.

Looking back, Mimic wasn't just a movie; it was Guillermo del Toro's odyssey through the shadows — a journey that nearly led him to abandon Hollywood. Instead, he emerged from the darkness not only as an accomplished filmmaker but as a storyteller whose tales would resonate far beyond the boundaries of the silver screen.

Source: X (Guillermo del Toro)