Sculpting a romantic lead for “The Shape of Water”

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GUILLERMO DEL TORO (the director of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Pacific Rim”) was six years old when he watched the American horror classic “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954). It made a deep impression, but perhaps not the one you might expect. What struck Mr del Toro was not the fearsomeness of the creature’s mien but the injustice of his unrequited love for the leading lady, played by Julie Adams, and his tragic demise. “The Shape of Water”, nominated for 13 Academy Awards, is the director’s paean to the silver-screen, inter-species love affair that never was.

A challenge intrinsic to this aim was creating an erotic and desirable leading fish-man (Doug Jones). Few would remember the creature from the original film as a sex symbol but in this film, Elisa’s (Sally Hawkins) growing attraction to the creature had to be believable. It was also crucial to Mr del Toro that the audience fall a little in love with him too. Mike Hill, a British-born artist and special-effects expert with a love of classic movie monsters as…Continue reading

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