The Shape of Water starring Sally Hawkins has all the trappings of a creature feature, but quickly becomes one of the oddest and most memorable romances in many years. Director Guillermo Del Toro spent three years and his own money to find just the right look for his leading man.
"I used to say we are creating the Michaelangelo David of Amphibian Man. He's not a monster. He's a leading man," Del Toro said.
To play the leading man, Del Toro selected the versatile Doug Jones, who has been in six of his other films.
Jones said, "(Del Toro) kept driving that into me. You are the romantic lead of this film and I need you not to give a Dougie Jones performance, but I want you to channel something very real and connect with this other person in the film."
He plays opposite Sally Hawkins, a British actor whose character is mute. She finds the Amphibian Man at her job as a cleaning lady in a secret government lab.
Hawkins learned American Sign Language and tap dance for the film, and is generating a lot of Oscar buzz.
Richard Jenkins also stars in the film. And Jenkins, Jones and Del Toro all agree Hawkin's performance is definitely one for the books.
"She is not someone who is perfume commercial model beauty -- she has her own beauty but it is extraordinary. Her face glows on screen. But at the same time you believe her. That she works in a janitorial position, that she takes the bus. So it is a combination of the extraordinary and the ordinary in a beautiful way," Del Toro said.
Said Jones, "I asked Sally Hawkins this is one of the great performances in movies. In movies period."
The film is also Del Toro's response to the 'Beauty and the Beast' myth that requires the beast to transform into an equally beautiful prince.
"The creature's already beautiful. And real love is not about transformation, it's about understanding."
Travel and accommodations provided by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
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