Yes, Crimson Peak has mega-watt celebs like Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, but the true star is the mansion. That’s why, instead of creating the whole house using visual effects, director Guillermo del Toro built it from the bottom up.

“Since gothic romance depends on a building, I thought the best course of action was to build it for real,” del Toro says. “I think that digital effects or computer effects should only be used as a last resort.”

Yes, del Toro built most of the mansion in a soundstage, but it still had an amazing amount of detail crafted into it. Meticulously placed fireplaces, pianos, and artwork—some of it del Toro’s own—all went into the building to give the feeling that the house is a “vital character of the movie,” he says, adding that his team spent seven months working on the visuals.

Check out the video above to learn more about how del Toro created the “eye protein” (not eye candy) of Crimson Peak—right down to the color-coded ghouls.

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Why Guillermo del Toro Built a Mansion for Crimson Peak