Del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was raised in a strict Catholic household. Del Toro studied at the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Cinematográficos, in Guadalajara.
When del Toro was about eight years old, he began experimenting with his father's Super 8 camera, making short films with Planet of the Apes toys and other objects. One short focused on a "serial killer potato" with ambitions of world domination; it murdered del Toro's mother and brothers before stepping outside and being crushed by a car. Del Toro made about 10 short films before his first feature, including one titled Matilde, but only the last two, Doña Lupe and Geometria, have been made available. He also wrote four and directed five episodes of the cult series La Hora Marcada, along with other Mexican filmmakers such as Emmanuel Lubezki and Alfonso Cuarón.
Del Toro studied special effects and make-up with special-effects artist Dick Smith. He spent 10 years as a special-effects make-up designer and formed his own company, Necropia. He also co-founded the Guadalajara International Film Festival. Later in his directing career, he formed his own production company, the Tequila Gang.
In 1997, at the age of 33, Guillermo was given a $30 million budget from Miramax Films to shoot another film, Mimic. During this time, his father, automotive entrepreneur Federico del Toro, was kidnapped in Guadalajara. Although Federico was eventually released safely, due to intense economic pressure from his captors, del Toro's family had to pay twice the amount originally asked. The event prompted del Toro, his parents, and his siblings to move abroad. In an interview with Time magazine, he said this about the kidnapping of his father: "Every day, every week, something happens that reminds me that I am in involuntary exile [from my country]."
Del Toro has directed a wide variety of films, from comic book adaptations (Blade II, Hellboy) to historical fantasy and horror films, two of which are set in Spain in the context of the Spanish Civil War under the authoritarian rule of Francisco Franco. These two films, The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth, are among his most critically acclaimed works. They share similar settings, protagonists and themes with the 1973 Spanish film The Spirit of the Beehive, widely considered to be the finest Spanish film of the 1970s. Del Toro views the horror genre as inherently political, explaining, "Much like fairy tales, there are two facets of horror. One is pro-institution, which is the most reprehensible type of fairy tale: Don't wander into the woods, and always obey your parents. The other type of fairy tale is completely anarchic and antiestablishment." He is close friends with two other prominent and critically praised Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. The three often influence each other's directorial decisions, and have been interviewed together by Charlie Rose. Cuarón was one of the producers of Pan's Labyrinth, while Iñárritu assisted in editing the film.
Del Toro has also contributed to the web series Trailers From Hell. In April 2008, del Toro was hired by Peter Jackson to direct the live-action film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. On May 30, 2010, del Toro left the project due to extended delays brought on by MGM's financial troubles. Although he did not direct the films, he is credited as co-writer in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.
On June 2, 2009, del Toro's first novel, The Strain, was released. It is the first part of an apocalyptic vampire trilogy co-authored by del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The second volume, The Fall, was released on September 21, 2010. The final installment, The Night Eternal, followed in October 2011. Del Toro cites writings of Antoine Augustin Calmet, Montague Summers and Bernhardt J. Hurwood among his favorites in the non-literary form about vampires. Guillermo del Toro. On December 9, 2010, del Toro launched Mirada Studios with his long-time cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, director Mathew Cullen and executive producer Javier Jimenez. Mirada was formed in Los Angeles, California to be a collaborative space where they and other filmmakers can work with Mirada's artists to create and produce projects that span digital production and content for film, television, advertising, interactive and other media. Mirada launched as a sister company to production company Motion Theory.
Del Toro directed Pacific Rim, a science fiction film based on a screenplay by del Toro and Travis Beacham. In the film, Kaiju giant monsters rise from the Pacific Ocean and attack major cities, leading humans to retaliate with gigantic mecha suits called Jaegers. Del Toro commented, "This is my most un-modest film, this has everything. The scale is enormous and I'm just a big kid having fun."The film was released on July 12, 2013 and grossed $411 million at the box office.
Del Toro directed "Night Zero", the pilot episode of The Strain, a vampire horror television series based on the The_Strain novel trilogy of the same name by del Toro and Chuck Hogan. FX has commissioned the pilot episode, which del Toro scripted with Hogan and was filmed in Toronto in September 2013. FX ordered a thirteen-episode first season for the series on November 19, 2013, and announced that the series will premiere some time in July 2014. After The Strain 's pilot episode, del Toro began directing Crimson Peak], a gothic horror film he co-wrote with Matthew Robbins and Lucinda Cox. Del Toro described the film as "a very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story", citing The Omen, The Exorcist and The Shining as influences. Del Toro stated, "I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets. I wanted this to feel like a throwback." Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston,Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam are set to star. Production began February 2014 in Toronto, with an April 2015 release date planned. He was selected to be on the jury for the main competition section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
- How to Train Your Dragon 3 (executive producer) (announced) - 2018
- Pacific Rim 2 (producer) (announced) - 2017
- Kung Fu Panda 3 (executive producer) (post-production) - 2016
- Rings (executive producer) (post-production) - 2015
- Crimson Peak (producer) (completed) - 2015
- Pinocchio (producer) (announced)
- The Thin Yellow Line (producer) - 2015
- The Strain (TV Series) (executive producer - 26 episodes) - 2014-2015
- Dinner (Short) (creative consultant) - 2014/V
- The Book of Life (producer) - 2014
- Pacific Rim (producer) - 2013
- Mama (executive producer) - 2013/I
- Rise of the Guardians (executive producer) - 2012
- The Captured Bird (Short) (executive producer) - 2012
- Puss in Boots (executive producer) - 2011
- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (producer) - 2010
- Megamind (creative consultant) - 2010
- Julia's Eyes (producer) - 2010
- Biutiful (associate producer) - 2010
- Splice (executive producer) 2009
- Rage (producer) - 2009
- Rudo y Cursi (producer) - 2008
- While She Was Out (executive producer - as Guillermo Del Toro) - 2008
- Insignificant Things (producer) - 2008
- Hellboy Animated: Iron Shoes (Video short) (creative producer) - 2007
- The Orphanage (executive producer) - 2007
- Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (TV Movie) (creative producer) - 2007
- Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (TV Movie) (creative producer) - 2007
- Pan's Labyrinth (producer) - 2006
- Cronicas (producer) - 2004
- I Murder Seriously (executive producer) - 2002
- The Devil's Backbone (executive producer) - 2001
- Un embrujo (producer) - 1998
- Geometria (Short) (producer) -1987
- Doña Lupe (Short) (executive producer) -1985
- Dona Herlinda and Her Son (executive producer) - 1985