Formed his own effects company after taking the "Advanced Makeup Course" from legendary makeup and special-effects artist Dick Smith (The Exorcist, Amadeus).
First directorial project was the late-1980s Mexican sci-fi/horror anthology series A Hora Marcada.
Taught film language and worked as coordinator of the student film workshop at Mexico's University of Guadalajara from 1986 to 1992.
Made his feature-film directing debut with 1993 vampire drama Cronos, whose awards included First Prize at the Cannes Film Festival's International Critics Week, the Mexican Academy Awards' Golden Ariel (best picture) and several Silver Ariels (including best direction and best screenplay).
Sci-fi horror movie Mimic, his first English-language feature, was nominated for Best Film at the 1997 Catalonian International Film Festival.
Father was kidnapped in 1997 and held for several months, then freed when ransom was paid.
Spanish-language fantasy-horror movie Pan's Labyrinth nominated for the Cannes Film Festival's Golden Palm in 2006 as well as for an Academy Award for original screenplay.
In 2009, formed a production company with Walt Disney Studios, Disney Double Dare You, to put out spooky animated films.
Teamed up in 2010 with partners including cinematographer Guillermo Navarro to form Mirada, a company created for such disciplines as animation and visual effects.
A serious fan of video games, which he calls "the comic books of our time," he has worked with the publisher THQ on horror video games.
2007, Goya Awards — Best Director: Nominee
2007, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Film not in the English Language: Winner
2006, Oscar — Best Writing (Original Screenplay): Nominee
2018, Golden Globe — Best Director - Motion Picture: Winner
2017, Directors Guild of America Awards — Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film: Winner
2007, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Original Screenplay: Nominee