Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is officially an Oscar frontrunner, and as a genre film fan, it’s hard to be more thrilled. As we gear up for awards night, let’s take a peek at a pretty magical video – a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most charismatic mermen in cinema.

The featurette outlines the initial brainstorming process of designing a merman (played by frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones) that looked and felt unique, but also took inspiration from classic amphibious monsters like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A key element of the creature’s design was to depict him as handsome, despite his inhuman appearance – it had to be believable that a woman would fall in love with him, after all. Jones is often the man inside del Toro’s most famous creatures, and his acrobatic background brings an otherworldly grace to the character.


the shape of water
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Del Toro’s film monsters are always a delight to behold – both grotesque and beautiful, they’re usually brought to life via nothing more than impeccable practical effects and costuming. The featurette takes us though neat finishing touches like the UV paint used to give the creature’s skin an aquatic bio-luminescence, and how the costumers remained committed to developing a suit that was sleek and sophisticated, in order for Jones’ movements to be as fluid and realistic as possible. Jones reveals that it took only two and a half hours to get into costume each day – an unbelievably short amount of time for how impressive the creature looks on screen.

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Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.

Check out the video above, and let’s all collectively cross our fingers that The Shape of Water takes home some Oscars hardware on March 4th!