Doug Jones looks different in every movie. That’s because he’s usually playing the creature. Though they don’t share super powers, Jones’ aquatic man in The Shape of Water bears some similarities to a superhero he’s played.
“[Guillermo del Toro] said, ‘Dougie, I want you to give me a little bit of Silver Surfer,’” Jones said. “The Silver Surfer was a godlike, strong, angelic being and then it had an inner strength and a quiet heroic heroism about him.”
Jones played the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. But if Jones were just Silver Surfer underwater, that would be Aquaman. Del Toro combined notes to create a new creature.
“He said, ‘I also want you to sprinkle in a little bit of matador,” Jones added. “As athletes go, they’re very graceful, very beautifully choreographed and very sexy. They lead with the pelvis.”
The Shape of Water is Jones’ seventh project with del Toro, each one a creature in makeup. It is getting challenging to portray new creatures.
“I’ve been acting for 30 years, a lot of it under rubber bits,” Jones said. “In Guillermo’s project, between the seven we’ve done together, I’ve done 12 characters for him specifically. So finding how is this one going to be different, that’s the challenge.”
One difference in The Shape of Water is that the aquatic man is a lover. Jones has his first love scenes ever with the film’s leading lady, Sally Hawkins.
“Both Sally and I are very modest people when it comes to that kind of thing on film,” Jones said. “That was a special thing. I had never played a romantic leading male in my life, as a person or a creature. So this was new for me. That’s why Guillermo kept reminding me, ‘You’re the romantic leading male of this movie.’”
Jones could trust del Toro to portray the inter-species love affair tastefully.
“For the creature I played ,it was probably his first time ever having an encounter like that,” Jones said. “I went to that Meet Joe Black place where Brad Pitt has been taken over by Death and has an experience with Claire Forlani for the first time ever. That’s how I felt.”
Creatures are Jones’s specialty, but that’s not to say they are easy, even after 30 years.
“I look forward to the end result because it’s always something so beautiful, but the process itself, I don’t love it,” Jones said. “When you’re spending hours smelling glue and chemicals, getting up before everyone else does and going home after everyone else does, it’s wearing on a soul, on a person, on a body.”
The work speaks for itself though. Every time Jones sees a movie like The Shape of Water, he forgets the hours of discomfort.
“Any sacrifices I make physically are so, so worth it when I get to sit in a theater and watch the movie and go, ‘Okay, that’s why I did that.’”
The Shape of Water opens wide Friday, December 8. Read our review here.