Doug Jones as “Charlie,” the fish-man creature from The Shape of Water.
Photo: Fox Searchlight

Though Doug Jones doesn’t have any speaking lines in The Shape of Water, the movie wouldn’t have been possible without the actor’s uncanny ability to seamlessly embody and bring to life the humanoid fish creature at the heart of the film’s romance. But the process of becoming the character meant a few concessions. He couldn’t poop while in costume, folks.

Jones’ knack for controlling and contorting his exceptionally long, lithe body into almost inhuman shapes is undoubtedly what’s made him such a fixture of Guillermo del Toro’s films, and it can be easy to forget that the actor’s actually a 57-year-old man from Indianapolis. But Jones is still just a human, and there are times when members of our species have to take care of certain biological needs regardless of whether we’re in the process of filming movies about fish people falling in love.

During a recent interview on Slate’s Studio 360 hosted by Kurt Anderson, Jones explained that unlike many of his other costumed roles which required him to sit in the makeup chair for up to seven hours, becoming the fishman—who, Jones revealed, del Toro apparently nicknamed Charlie Tuna—was relatively easy because many of the pieces could be slipped on quickly. But the relative ease of getting into the overall costume (complete with that painstakingly-crafted fish monster butt del Toro slaved over) came at a price.

“You know that beautiful ass we were talking about? That comes at a cost, Kurt. There was no trapdoor in the back. So what that meant is that Dougie has to take care of bowels in advance of pulling that suit. Because when I’m in the suit, it’ll be for a good 16, 17 hours a day.

So you have to make sure that you’re not going to have a little accident. And that is my biggest fear in this world is that they’re going to pull the suit off me one day and be disgusted by the aroma.”


The Shape of Water is a breathtaking film that becomes much grosser the more you know about it, and that goes double now. It’s not just that “Charlie” has sex with a human in a scene that made someone on set literally throw up—now you know that Jones filmed said scene while worrying about, well, you know.

Someone get this man an Oscar.