Guillermo del Toro followed up his 2015 passion project “Crimson Peak” with a detour to the small screen with “Trollhunters,” the first season of which is now available to stream on Netflix, but now the director is readying his return to feature filmmaking in “The Shape of Water.” The director began production in August with a cast that includes Michael Shannon, Sally Hawkins and regular collaborator Doug Jones, but all we’ve really known about the project was that it would be a fantasy set during the Cold War. Now Jones has spilled the beans on the story.
In a new interview with Collider, Jones revealed that he’ll once again be under makeup prosthetics to play some kind of “fish man” character. He also noted that the film is neither a “genre film” nor a “sci-fi film.”
“I am a creature in it,” he said about his role in the film. “I’m a fish man that’s kind of a one-off. I’m an enigma, nobody knows where I came from; I’m the last of my species so I’m like a natural anomaly. And I’m being studied and tested in a U.S. government facility in 1963, so the Russian Cold War is on, the race for space is on, so there’s all that backdrop and that undercurrent.”
He continues, “I’m being tested for how can they use me for advantages in military or space travel, or my technology—can we make this usable for humans? So they’re trying to keep me a secret from the Russians.”
As for how Sally Hawkins comes into play: “There’s a love story that brews out of it, and that would be the cleaning lady played by Sally Hawkins. She comes and finds me, has sympathy on me, and then that’s the story that you’re really gonna follow with this whole backdrop.”
A period-specific fantasy with a dash of romance? Sounds like the worlds of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Crimson Peak” are set to collide, and these early plot details sound pretty perfect for del Toro’s sensibilities. Jones would agree, and he told Collider that he’d be surprised if the movie doesn’t end up in the Oscar race next year.
“It is artfully and beautifully [made],” he said. “If this doesn’t end up with Guillermo back at the Oscars, I will be surprised. I will be very surprised.”
Fox Searchlight Pictures already has U.S. distribution rights to the movie. No release date has been set, though early word is that the movie will drop sometime this fall.