Filmmakers tend to have their muses; that one actor within whom they've found a creative partner, and whom they work with time and time again. Martin Scorsese has Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino has Samuel L. Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro has Doug Jones. Of the 12 films del Toro has directed thus far, Jones has appeared in half of them. Del Toro is fascinated by good movie monsters, trusting no one but Jones to portray them.
While Jones keeps working with del Toro, he puts on a different face each time. In both the "Hellboy" duology and "The Shape of Water," he plays an amphibious man. While Abe Sapien ("Hellboy") and the Asset ("The Shape of Water") may look similar, their roles are wildly different. Abe is a superhero sidekick armed with sly wit, while the Asset is a tight-lipped romantic lead. Jones' versatility is apparent even within singular films: in "Pan's Labyrinth," he plays both the enigmatic Faun and the terrifying Pale Man, while in "Crimson Peak" he portrays two of the film's six ghosts.
Jones and del Toro's relationship goes back to "Mimic," a film about mutant bugs living in the sewers of New York City. You can probably guess which role Jones played.
Meeting On The Mimic Set
Neither Guillermo del Toro nor Doug Jones were household names in 1997. "Mimic" was del Toro's Hollywood debut and only his second feature after "Cronos," his unique vampire movie. Jones had a background part as an evil clown in "Batman Returns" as well as a supporting role in "Hocus Pocus" playing the undead Billy Butcherson, but no one would recognize him makeup-free — which might be one reason why the two found it so easy to get along. In a recent interview with StarTrek.com, Jones reveals it was friendship at first sight for him and del Toro:
"It was an immediate click. We were just like two 12-year-old boys going, 'Ah, I love monsters, ah!' So I knew that set him apart 'cause he has a fanboy in him that loves to create movies that fanboys will have a 'geek-gasm' over, as he calls it."
Jones delving into del Toro's love of monsters set the stage because in "Mimic," that's what he was playing. Specifically, Jones played "the Judas Breed": hybrid insects that have grown to human size. Worse, they've developed a taste for flesh and can mimic a humanoid body shape. Jones' part is when the bugs take on that disguise. Both of his aforementioned parts featured SFX makeup, but this was a whole other ball game. The Judas Breed is the least distinctive del Toro monster Jones has played — by design — since they're each just one of a hive. Still, you need to start somewhere and Jones' blossoming friendship with del Toro allowed him to play more distinctive monsters down the line. Jones recounts:
"Guillermo del Toro has changed my life. He's single-handedly kind of catapulted this unknown tall skinny guy, into a place of being a leading man in a weird way, you know, a weird-looking leading man."
The Kind Of Director Del Toro Is
Guillermo Del Toro doesn't have fond memories from shooting "Mimic," due to the Weinstein brothers meddling in the production and ultimately distorting his vision. While he admittedly isn't a director who shies from adversity, the Weinsteins' demands got under his skin. As reported by IndieWire, del Toro said this about the experience at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival:
"My first American experience was almost my last because it was with the Weinsteins and Miramax. I have got to tell you, two horrible things happened in the late nineties, my father was kidnapped and I worked with the Weinsteins. I know which one was worse … the kidnapping made more sense, I knew what they wanted."
TyRuben Ellingson, lead creature designer on "Mimic," told Inverse that "there's 50 percent of [del Toro's film] in the final cut, but there's also 50 percent of something else representing negotiated studio needs."
However, with dark clouds come silver linings. Del Toro would meet Doug Jones and Ellingson on the "Mimic" set, the latter of whom was a concept designer on "Hellboy" and "Pacific Rim." Del Toro knew that Doug Jones, who looked too unconventional to be a leading man, would be perfect to play his kind-hearted creatures. Ron Perlman has also been in seven of his movies, while Federico Luppi has appeared in all three of his Spanish-language films. Jones has a theory on why del Toro works so well with his favorite actors, telling StarTrek.com:
"Guillermo knows more about me than I do. He's a very [strong] people absorber. So every actor he's ever worked with, he sums up their personality within minutes and he knows what buttons to push to get things out of them … It's a brilliant gift to have as a director."
Read this next: The 10 Best Guillermo Del Toro Characters Ranked
The post Guillermo del Toro And Doug Jones Immediately 'Clicked' On The Set Of Mimic appeared first on /Film.