The sinewy fish-man at the center of The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s new film, stands stoic and brave as the rain beats down. But when the director yells “cut,” the man inside the fish suit begins to shiver; the set may look like a Baltimore port, but this is Toronto. Two crewmembers rush over, enveloping the 6’ 3”, 140-pound Doug Jones in coats and their own body heat. Throughout the movie’s grueling 45-day shoot, those two men—Legacy Effects co-founder Shane Mahan and monster sculptor Mike Hill, both of whom helped create Jones’ costume—felt they had two separate jobs: tend to the suit and tend to the man inside it.
“When wearing any kind of a costume and makeup that’s this extensive, you become a bit of a nursing home patient,” Jones says, wincing as he remembers his time in Toronto. “I can’t see as well, I can’t hear much, I can’t feel much, and I got these webbed fingers on—I can’t do anything for myself.”Eliza (Sally Hawkins) falls for the fish-man known as the Asset in The Shape of Water.