Happy birthday to Doug Jones, born 59 years ago today (May 24).
Doug Jones is perhaps the most prolific actor you’ve never actually seen on screen. His thin-visage is usually covered in heavy makeup, rubber latex, and computer-generated imagery and he’s responsible for a wide variety of fantastic characters which perhaps you never knew were him.
Doug Jones is Abe Sapien and Angel of Death in Hellboy, the Amphibian Man in The Shape of Water, the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, the ghosts of Edith’s Mother and Beatrice Sharpe in Crimson Peak, the Thin Clown in Batman Returns, Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus, Slenderman in Slender Man, PencilHead in Mystery Men, an additional Ripper in Tank Girl, and a few others.
His debut performance was for a 1987 McDonald’s ‘Mac Tonight’ commercial as a (dreading!) moon mascot which he mentioned on his Facebook page as a #TBT post. He has always worn loads of prosthetics and makeup well, yet with the lack of internet in the ’80s, it was fairly hard to trace him around as a rising talent. He later appeared on Tim Burton‘s Batman Forever as the Thin Clown who inserted that fiendish device that will allow the gang to control the Batmobile.
The Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is perhaps my favorite of Doug Jones. A fish-like creature that falls for a deaf laboratory cleaning lady who rescues him from the violent hands of his capturer. Despite his beastly appearance, the Amphibian Man is infused with emotions and the longing to communicate, and he’s able to form a connection with Elisa (Sally Hawkins) an isolated and gentle woman who very much resembles the character of Amélie. The movie’s a heartwarming fairy-tale with beautiful visuals and a distinctive plot. Doug Jones is remarkable in fully transforming himself into a humanoid water creature that is visually and audibly just plain amazing!
You’ll rarely catch Doug Jones not playing a movie monster, but his physical flexibility and mimicking skills allow him to convey deep emotions, expressive body movements, and language that a perhaps only a few can match. No wonder he’s the prime choice of many directors for portraying the most bizarre beings. Guillermo del Toro recurring use of Jones alone goes to show his the go-to actor for executing extraordinary character work.
Mr. Jones has more awesome projects down the pipeline, some of which are still filming. I hope to catch up on some of them real soon, especially the What We Do in the Shadows which I think is airing… now. Jones plays Baron Afanas which sounds like a truly horrific character not to my surprise. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend catching him and Hawkins on The Shape of Water which, if you’re an online pundit or fanboy (or girl!) of the fantastic and whimsical sci-fi romance, will be added to your favorites for sure.