Since the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming The Shape of Water released, plenty of viewers have speculated that the Asset — the film’s aquatic man — may in fact be Abe Sapien from Hellboy. The theory cites both characters’ affinity for eggs, their striking resemblance and the fact that actor Doug Jones plays both Sapien and the Asset. However, Jones has said that del Toro insisted that The Shape of Water was not an Abe Sapien film and that Jones should play the Asset much differently.
“Guillermo was very specific, he did not want Abe Sapien in this film at all,” Jones told the Hollywood Reporter. “He wanted this to be very stand-alone, it’s its own piece of art. Let’s celebrate this own unique story that has nothing to do with Abe.”
“He has a love for fishmen and mermaids, anyway,” Jones continued. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon was his favorite of the Universal monsters. He wanted this one to be very different. Abe was a very articulate, well-spoken, intelligent, poised and postured being who gestured with his hands a lot and was very gentile. Guillermo wanted the opposite [for the Asset]. He wanted it very raw and animalistic. What he specifically said to me was that he did not want a Dougie Jones performance, he wants a character. He doesn’t want a physical performance. He wanted something raw and animal and real. This character came out of the wild, it’s not a fantasy being. This is something that was found on Earth and is real and is in front of us in the 1960s. My character doesn’t speak, but he is intelligent enough that I can learn communication. Sally Hawkins’ character doesn’t speak either, so we connect on a beautiful nonverbal level which is so lovely to explore on film.”
Jones has starred in six of del Toro’s films, in addition to his TV series The Strain. He played both the Faun and the Pale Man in 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Abe Sapien in both the original Hellboy film and its sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. There were plans to make an Abe Sapien spinoff film, but the Hellboy reboot put a stop to it.
Debuting in theaters on December 8, The Shape of Water is a production of Bull Productions directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Lauren Lee Smith, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer.
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