×

Guillermo del Toro’s Love Story Takes ‘Shape’ Without Words

For his role in “The Shape of Water,” Doug Jones had to give life to a being that was many things, and he had to do it from within one of the most exquisitely crafted creature suits ever made.

“[Guillermo del Toro] kept saying that the monster was the romantic lead in the movie and it had to be conveyed without one word spoken, so I still have to do the actor’s things of finding my character’s heart and soul, his needs and wants, his fears and loves,” Jones says.

“Once you go to the costume fittings you see how much of that is getting through and what kind of expression do I need to do so it comes through.”

The suit and makeup were a collaboration between creature designers Shane Mahan and Mike Hill to make a monster who had such essential characteristics as kissable lips and a squeezable butt. They spent months refining, redesigning and painting the suit. After extensive fittings and additional adjustments, Jones set out to express helmer del Toro’s vision of the creature through movement.

Jones and the crew had to carefully plan his days since he would remain in the suit for hours at a time and had his face, body and hands all covered. He couldn’t eat or even scratch his nose while working inside it.

But the demands, says Jones, were more than worth it in order to become this unique character.

“Once I pulled that suit onto by body, I had to be in the best shape of my life so that I could carry it off, and Guillermo’s notes were that he didn’t want to see human or ape-sapien. And the other thing was that he wanted me to know I was an animal from the wild,” says Jones.

“The other thing was that he wanted me to understand that in the Amazon, where I’m from, there are people who worship you as a god and that’s alluded to in the dialogue. So he wanted to see a regal quality, a strength, a heroism that would inspire that kind of worship and mixed with a little bit of matador.”

Jones observed that matadors lead with the pelvis and convey a confidence and machismo that were essential to attracting the female lead to him. He would also have to find a way to engage her in their love story without the luxury of a sly pickup line.

“The thing is that since it’s non-dialogue — he doesn’t speak and she’s mute — you have to find a way to fall in love that isn’t a typical first date where you’re looking at each other over dinner saying, ‘So, tell me about yourself.’

“It made the love story so much more pure to me because words can deceive and mislead, but they look each other in the eye and they recognized something in the other and they know each other and fall in love.”

More Film

  • 'Patrick Melrose' TV show premiere

    Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy to Star in 'Louis Wain'

    Benedict Cumberbatch (“Avengers: Endgame”) and Claire Foy (“The Crown”) are set to star in “Louis Wain,” a biopic of the prolific English artist who rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century. “Louis Wain” will start shooting on Aug. 10 with BAFTA-nominated Will Sharpe (“Flowers”) directing the film which was written by Sharpe [...]

  • Production Resumes on 'Fast & Furious

    'Fast & Furious 9' Production Resumes, Investigation Into Stuntman Injury Under Way

    Production resumed Tuesday on “Fast & Furious 9,” a day after an accident at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London, left a stuntman in hospital. The U.K. agency responsible for workplace safety confirmed that it is now investigating the accident. The stuntman, Joe Watts, was working on a second unit when he sustained head injuries [...]

  • mother

    Director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese: Africa Is ‘In the Process of Becoming’

    DURBAN–From the arresting opening sequence, in which the reflection of a woman carrying a giant wooden cross shimmers across the surface of a lake, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s “Mother, I Am Suffocating. This is My Last Film About You” embarks on a poetic journey across an unnamed African landscape. Described by the filmmaker as a “lament,” [...]

  • Promise at Dawn Calcoa

    Colcoa French Film Festival Moves to the Fall With Revamped Format

    Colcoa, the Los Angeles-based French film festival, will be hosting its 23rd edition in September, right before the start of the awards season. Created by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, Colcoa will also be showcasing a more contained lineup focused on film and TV at the Directors Guild of America’s newly-renovated venue. The festival was previously [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen FYSEE Opening Night with

    Bruce Springsteen-Codirected 'Western Stars' Film Will Premiere in Toronto

    “Western Stars,” the film that Bruce Springsteen has made to accompany his recent album of the same name, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday. The feature is being listed as a co-directing project between Springsteen and his longtime filmic collaborator, Thom Zimny, who just picked up [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone and Braden Aftergood Balboa

    Sylvester Stallone's Production Company Wants to Be the Blumhouse of Action Films

    “I don’t believe Sylvester Stallone carries around a wallet,” says Braden Aftergood, the executive in charge of scripted development at the movie star’s content company Balboa Prods. It’s not that Sly, as he’s known to friends and fans alike, is trying to duck out on a dinner bill. He never seems to have his license [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content