Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a modern-day masterpiece about the unlikely love story between a mute human woman and a one-of-a-kind amphibian creature. The Shape of Water is lovely to look at but, for one hapless performer, making it sounds like it was hell.
In a Vanity Fair interview about the making of the movie, del Toro talks about the various challenges he and his team faced in creating an emotionally resonant monster. The piece focuses on the work done to design the fish creature and the grueling work of having to wear all that latex and make-up. Late in the film, there’s a dream sequence that plays out like a Fred Astaire-style old Hollywood dance number, and one of del Toro’s anecdotes talks about how grueling it was to perform that in a fish creature suit:
“We came up with a great idea, which is to get [Jones] a dancing double. But the dancing double put on the suit, sweated a lot, did one take, vomited, and passed out. That shows you how strong Doug is.”
The Shape of Water is a beautifully written and shot movie, in part about transcending the physical barriers that can stand in the way of love. But fish suits are hot, sticky, and smelly; it takes a lot of love and strength to dance around in one for hours on end.