Actor Doug Jones got his big break in a series of McDonald’s commercials in the 1980s: He played Mac Tonight, a piano player with a giant crescent moon for a head. Since then, Jones became Hollywood’s go-to guy to play monsters and otherworldly creatures — from a zombie in “Hocus Pocus” to Commander Saru in “Star Trek: Discovery.”
But Jones is best known for his collaboration with director Guillermo del Toro: in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” he played the Faun and the Pale Man, and in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” he played Abe Sapien, an erudite amphibian creature.
Jones is back playing an aquatic monster in del Toro’s latest film, “The Shape of Water.” It’s about a mute cleaning woman (played by Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with his character, who’s held captive in a government laboratory. Jones doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, but he brings the character to life with just his physicality.
“I had to quiet all of my human instincts,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “Words can often pollute or words can deceive. You can feel someone’s ill intentions in their touch or their love in their touch, so the non-verbal falling in love actually made sense.”
He also explains how the costume was designed to be sexy, but not very convenient if you need to use the facilities.
“When I’m in the suit, it’ll be for a good 16 hours a day,” he says. “So you have to make sure that you’re not going to have a little accident. That is my biggest fear in this world.”