We all know that The Shape Of Water is an award season success that tells the love story of a mute cleaning lady and a giant fish. What we don’t know is that its production process is riddled with difficulties, and its glories come at a great price. Here are 20 fun facts that help you understand how the movie turned from a denied idea to an unforgettable fairy tale for adults.
1. Guillermo invested $200,000 of his own money to make the movie.
To save money and meet budgetary constraints, the production used the offices and studios of The Strain, the FX vampire series that del Toro exec produced.
2. When Guillermo del Toro first told Fox Searchlight the story, everyone ended up crying.
Once the script was done and the creature design underway, Guillermo started shopping Shape around. His first, and it turned out only, stop was Fox Searchlight. Guillermo read the team parts of the story and showed them all the drawings and models, and everyone was so moved that they invested in the film without hesitation.
3. It took Doug Jones three hours to put his Amphibian Man costume on.
4. Del Toro told Sally Hawkins about the movie when he was drunk.
At the 2014 Golden Globes after-party, del Toro got drunk and decided to leave, but ran into Hawkins on the way out and pitched the idea to her. “I was drunk and it’s not a movie that makes you sound less drunk,” del Toro said at a press conference.
5. Every shot in the movie is coded with color.
If you look carefully, you’ll find out that the green represents the future, yellow the present, and red the past.
6. The eggs Elisa offered to Gabe could be seen as a symbol of reproductive fertility, especially given the weird stuff that goes on in the movie.
7. Characters’ pursuit of freedom is delicately displayed in their clothing.
Both Elisa and Zelda have symbols of flying free on them. Zelda has a bird pin that she wears during the breakout scene, and Elisa has a butterfly jewel on her collar.
8. Elisa’s shoes in some way represent her choice of life on land and underwater.
Shoes are the thing that grounds Elisa to the land on the surface and Elisa is ditching them to be her soulmate underwater.
9. The clock in the movies implies the importance of punctuality, especially when it comes to the heist.
10. Lead actress Sally Hawkins contributed key aspects of her character.
Hawkins had a hand in making her character, Elisa Esposito, so distinctive. Her idea that the character should have scars on her neck and use salt in her bathtub plays a crucial part in the movie.
11. Doug Jones, who plays the sea creature, has played a water creature for del Toro in the past.
Jones has appeared in several del Toro movies, including Mimic, Crimson Peak, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy, in which he plays Abraham Sapien, an amphibian man.
12. Sally Hawkins and Michael Stuhlbarg have shared the screen before.
Both actors had roles in Woody Allen’s 2013 film Blue Jasmine, according to IMDb.
13. At first, del Toro wanted to shoot the film entirely in black and white.
Del Toro insisted that the movie should be shot in black and white because it would be more convincing. However, the Searchlight told him that the budget for a black-and-white film is $16.5 million whereas a color film would justify a budget of $19.5 million. He chose the latter.
14. Del Toro had the actors in mind when he wrote the movie.
Unlike most films that the script is written before the actors are chosen, del Toro knew who he wanted from the get-go, so he wrote the scripts with actors in mind – Sally Hawkins for Elisa, Octavia Spencer for Zelda, and Richard Jenkins for Giles.
15. The production was riddled with issues.
Accidents, strong winds, and subzero temperatures made shooting the film a true challenge.
16. The Shape of Water is inspired by the classic horror movie Creature From the Black Lagoon.
When del Toro first saw Creature From the Black Lagoon at 7 years old, he was immediately fascinated by the idea that the creature was in love with a woman, and had developed a wild desire for them to end up together.
17. Del Toro once wanted to work on a remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon.
“When I was in my 30s,” he says, “I went to Universal and I said, ‘Can we do the movie from the point of view of the creature?’ They didn’t go for it. I said, ‘I think they should end up together.’ They didn’t go for that, either.”
18. The idea of The Shape of Water came to Del Toro during breakfast with author Daniel Kraus, the co-writer of his Trollhunters.
Del Toro had been storyboarding something like Creature From the Black Lagoon when he learned that Daniel was working on a story about a janitor who discovers a creature in a secret government facility and takes it home. He thought it would fit best with his childhood dream, so he bought the idea and started working on the screenplay.
19. Del Toro gave up directing Pacific Rim: Uprising in order to dedicate his time and attention to The Shape of Water.
He had been working on Pacific Rim: Uprising for years when the production was delayed once again, so he decided to leave it aside and focus on his romantic monster movie instead.
20. It’s going to be a novel too.
The Shape Of Water has been novelised by author Kraus, and it will tell much more of the story than what we see on-screen. Get your money ready before its release on February 27, 2018.