You Are A God: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Shape Of Water


Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is one of the most beautiful movies in recent memory. When it first hit theaters, it wowed critics and audiences around the world. It swept the Oscars, receiving 13 nominations – the most of any movie that year by five nods – and taking home four awards, including Best Picture.

RELATED: Guillermo Del Toro's Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes

A love story about a janitor at a Cold War-era government facility falling in love with a magical fish-man doesn’t sound like a Best Picture winner, but based on the movie’s beauty, it’s a no-brainer. So, here are 10 fascinating facts from behind the scenes of The Shape of Water.

10 The Movie Originated As A Remake Of Creature From The Black Lagoon

It should come as no surprise that the concept of The Shape of Water was heavily inspired by Creature from the Black Lagoon. Guillermo del Toro watched the movie a lot as a kid, and he always wanted to see the Gill-man’s romance with Kay Lawrence actually work out.

Initially, del Toro was developing a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon for Universal. He wanted to tell the story from the Gill-man’s perspective and make him a sympathetic figure. The studio didn’t like this, probably due to their plans for the Dark Universe, so del Toro broke off and wrote an original script based on his ideas.

9 Guillermo Del Toro Pitched The Movie To Sally Hawkins While He Was Drunk

Guillermo del Toro started working on The Shape of Water as far back as 2011. He paid a team of designers to work on the look of the creature and the laboratory that houses him out of his own pocket.

At the 2014 Golden Globes ceremony, del Toro first pitched the project to Sally Hawkins, who was his first and only choice for the role of Elisa. Apparently, he was very drunk during the pitch, and the concept didn’t make him sound any more sober.

8 Doug Jones’ Costume Took Three Hours To Put On

Every morning, when Doug Jones came to the set to play the Asset, it took three hours to put his costume on.

This might sound like a pain, but Jones said it was nothing compared to some of the elaborate costumes he’s worn in past Guillermo del Toro films.

7 Octavia Spencer Would’ve Taken Any Role Guillermo Del Toro Offered Her

When an offer came through from Guillermo del Toro, Octavia Spencer didn’t care what the role was, because she was dying to work with him. She joked that she would’ve played a desk if del Toro wrote a desk character for her.

RELATED: Octavia Spencer's 10 Best Films, Based On Their Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Spencer ended up loving the script for The Shape of Water. She liked the fact that, due to the female lead being mute and the male lead being a fish, a woman of color and a closeted gay man got the majority of the film’s dialogue.

6 Sally Hawkins Watched Silent Comedies To Prepare For The Film

In order to prepare for her mostly silent role in The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins watched comedies from the silent era starring such greats as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy.

Guillermo del Toro even bought Hawkins a Blu-ray box set of movies featuring these silent performers before shooting began. The actor also looked at Audrey Hepburn.

5 Guillermo Del Toro Gave The Actors Backstories For Their Characters

Before filming began, Guillermo del Toro wrote a long backstory for each of the film’s characters and provided the actors with them. However, he told them they didn’t have to stick to them.

Richard Jenkins, for example, ignored his character’s backstory, feeling that all that matters is what’s actually on the screen, while Michael Stuhlbarg studied his in depth.

4 The Role Of Giles Was Written With Ian McKellen In Mind

One of the most memorable supporting performances in The Shape of Water arrives courtesy of Richard Jenkins as Elisa’s closeted neighbor Giles. Guillermo del Toro wrote the role with Ian McKellen in mind.

Giles was based primarily on McKellen’s portrayal of Frankenstein director James Whale (whose work has heavily influenced del Toro’s own filmmaking) in the movie Gods and Monsters. However, McKellen was unavailable, so del Toro offered the role to Jenkins in an email.

3 Strickland Hitting A Telegraph Pole Outside The Apartment Building Wasn’t Scripted

When Strickland pulls up at Elisa’s apartment building toward the end of the movie, he guns the car up onto the sidewalk and hits a telegraph pole. This wasn’t scripted; Michael Shannon actually lost control of the car and hit the pole for real.

RELATED: 10 Hidden Details In The Shape Of Water Everyone Missed

Guillermo del Toro decided to leave that take in the movie, because he felt that it contributed to depicting Strickland’s frazzled mental state.

2 The Crew Nicknamed The Creature “Charlie”

It’s not uncommon for a film crew working with an animatronic puppet or a heavy costume to come up with a nickname. On the set of Jaws, the crew called the shark “Bruce.” On the set of Jurassic Park, the crew called the T. Rex “Roberta.”

And on the set of The Shape of Water, the crew called the creature “Charlie,” in honor of Charlie the Tuna, the spokes-tuna for the StarKist brand.

1 Guillermo Del Toro Considered Shooting The Movie In Black-And-White

Early in the pre-production process for The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro considered shooting the movie in black-and-white. The story was heavily inspired by Universal’s black-and-white monster movies, so this would’ve been an interesting stylistic choice.

However, the director faced a dilemma when the studio offered to give him a $17 million budget to shoot the movie in black-and-white, or a $20 million budget to shoot it in color. Ultimately, del Toro needed the extra $3 million, so he relented and made the movie in color. He’d later call the black-and-white debate “a battle I was expecting to lose.

NEXT: Like Tears In Rain: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Blade Runner

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