Thanks to Club Jade for pointing this out for those of us a little slower on the uptake, but Guillermo Del Toro had been approached about taking on Star Wars, but ultimately opted against it.
In an interview with Playlist:
“We got one phone call to my agent saying, ‘Is Guillermo interested?’ And basically I have so much stuff already of my own, and I’m pursuing stuff that I’m generating already…” he said, explaining that he ultimately turned it down.
With numerous directing, producing and writing projects in the works, Del Toro made it clear that his own slate is full enough to keep him occupied, but he was still pleased to be approached. “It was very flattering,” he said, adding: “It was just a phone call, it didn’t go past that, it was very nice to be asked, but believe it or not, I’m busy enough.”
To me, Del Toro was one of my top dream choices for a Star Wars film. He'd have brought a sensibility to it that would have been welcome. I think his films if they've been influenced by Star Wars at all, they have a very Empire Strikes Back quality to them. His best movies all seem to end bitter-sweet (like Pan's Labyrinth), and have that dark coldness to them you'd only find on Hoth and Bespin. There's no saying he might not be interested in future installments, but he's definitely not in the running now.
Which is a shame.
I think Guillermo Del Toro is one of the finest filmmakers working today and has a sensibility that would have brought something fresh to the Star Wars universe.
In the meantime, we all await anxiously an announcement that must be coming soon about who IS directing Episode VII, instead who's been approached and turned down the assignment. I can imagine there's some trepidation on the part of filmmakers, but I'm sure one of them has been selected and is already hard at work on it. With any luck, it could still be Matthew Vaughn. But we don't know now, and might not know for a while.