Guillermo del Toro on 'The Shape of Water,' an aquatic love story
Guillermo del Toro's new film, The Shape of Water, is a visually stunning love story between a mute cleaning woman and an exotic sea creature. It looks expensive, but del Toro actually came in under his modest budget. He tells us about the creative ways he stretched a dollar making his awards contender.
Guillermo del Toro has worked with budgets far bigger than the one he had to make his newest film The Shape of Water. But without having to worry about delivering huge grosses to justify the cost of his film, del Toro found the freedom to tell a story he's been wanting to share for years. Del Toro tells us about getting encouragement from fellow Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Iñárritu to leave Pacific Rim 2 and pursue The Shape of Water. And he explains how to film underwater scenes on the cheap...without any water.
Photo: Director Guillermo del Toro, on the set of The Shape of Water. (Kerry Hayes, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
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The new movie The Shape of Water, set in 1960s Baltimore, begins with the dreary life of Elisa, a mute cleaning woman played by Sally Hawkins.
Each day Elisa wakes up at the same time, eats the same meal, visits a reclusive friend and then heads to work the overnight shift at a secretive government facility. There she cleans alongside her friend Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer, who likes to complain about her good-for-nothing husband and does enough talking for the both of them.
One day the two cleaning women overhear their employers discussing something they call "the asset." Elisa and Zelda soon discover what it is: a creative living in a large, water-filled cylinder in the lab. This amphibious man, played by Doug Jones, is covered in iridescent blue-green scales and almost instantly, Elisa feels a powerful connection with him.
Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and directed The Shape of Water. In the past, del Toro has crafted many memorable creatures for his films including Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth.
The last time del Toro visited The Business, he talked about his attempt to bring his unique perspective to the big-budget monster robot film Pacific Rim. This time, he talks about his decision to walk away from Pacific Rim 2 following a production delay, at the urging of his fellow filmmaking friends Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Iñárritu.
He also explains how he was able to make The Shape of Water look visually stunning with a modest budget and why he wanted to make the movie at Fox Searchlight. He also tells about the years of work that went into crafting the sea creature for the film and why it was important to make his amphibious man sexy.