With its seven Golden Globe nominations, THE SHAPE OF WATER is certainly making a splash, set to perform quite well this awards season! The Angelika New York was so thrilled to have opening weekend Q&As with Director Guillermo del Toro (CRIMSON PEAK, PACIFIC RIM), and actors Octavia Spencer (HIDDEN FIGURES, THE HELP), Michael Stuhlbarg (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, ARRIVAL) and Doug Jones (who reunites with del Toro after his performances in CRIMSON PEAK & HELLBOY).
Amid its vast critical acclaim and early Academy Awards buzz, alongside its unique premise, del Toro explains that the film’s inspiration comes from CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which he saw at age 6, and was “overwhelmed… almost fainted.” “I didn’t know what love was, but I learned it then,” he states.
He elaborates on that, here:
The use of fantasy within the film is another element of inspiration here, which is used as a means by which to address issues that wouldn’t normally be addressed – to confront things head-on while simultaneously feeling removed from them.
Del Toro speaks about the setting, 1962, which though commonly viewed as an idyllic fairytale era of America (Kennedy in the White House and the height of the space race), but that view is a hollow image – it was a grueling time when viewed from another lens. “If you were on the wrong side of the fence,” he states, “…it was a horrible time, and still is.”
The film was written for its lead, Sally Hawkins, and she is accompanied in the film by the incredible Octavia Spencer, who del Toro says he’d worship if he were into religion. And Stuhlbarg, del Toro says, could give an “elegance” and an “edge of danger” to his character. Doug Jones plays the creature in the film, and he says he spent three weeks learning choreography for the dancing scene in the film. (Yes – there is a dancing scene!) Throughout that process, which he went through with Hawkins, the two got very close, developed their characters, which added to their chemistry on screen.
Find out what it was like for Jones to act in an amphibian suit:
The creature, del Toro says, is really not a creature at all – it is a romantic male lead, and a god, who’s otherness fades away by the end of the film.
This Q&A was such a gem, listening to del Toro wax poetic about the allusions and subtext beneath the surface of this impeccable film, which is such a lovely mosaic of genres, unlike anything we’ve seen before.
View the full Q&A here: