Daily Dead recently had the great pleasure of speaking with the great Doug Jones about his entrancing role in the post-apocalyptic thriller We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew (you can read part 1 of the interview here), but the legendary actor was also gracious enough to talk about some of his recent projects. In part 2 of our interview with Jones, he talks about playing Saru on Star Trek: Discovery, reuniting with Guillermo del Toro, and why we need films like The Shape of Water right now.

Doug Jones: There are beloved characters in my life and in my history and on film that I cherish, including a project I've got going on right now, Star Trek: Discovery, which is currently airing on CBS All Access.

Congratulations on season two.

Doug Jones: Thank you. Yeah, I'm very excited about that. The story must continue. So, as a new breed of alien, a Kelpien on Discovery, Commander Saru has become a very near and dear beloved character to me personally, as well as the amphibian man in The Shape of Water, coming December 8th to theaters everywhere.

He's unlike any creature I've ever played before as well. He's a fish-man mutant monster—which I have played fish men before—placed into such a romantic tale in a real period of American history, but with such heart and emotion, and such raw animal characteristics. Instead of being a refined gentleman with great dialogue, I was an animal from the wild who wasn't a sentient intelligent being and was teachable. So it was just a perfect old monster movie, but he actually gets the girl this time. It's a relationship that can be instead of all the monster movies where that sort of relationship that has romantic notions, it can't be.

So I love Star Trek: Discovery and The Shape of Water. Those are two examples of makeups and monsters that the hours it takes to get into it, the discomforts that might come with that are well worth it when I watch the finished product and go, "Okay, now that's what we were making." That's an immortal piece of film that I can be very proud of, and it was worth every sacrifice made physically and whatever it took.

Is there anything else on deck that you wanted to tease for our readers? I know you have some exciting projects coming up.

Doug Jones: Well, there are other things I've filmed. I did a feature film called Beneath the Leaves where I play a human being again. I was the psycho killer of that film. And the lovely Oscar-winning Mira Sorvino played the police detective that was trying to find me and figure out how to capture me. And then her dad, the decorated Paul Sorvino, was also in the film.

It was great, great fun. I filmed that just before I did The Shape of Water last year. Another fun little thing that just came out on Amazon was a web series turned feature film called The Danger Element. They compiled all the web episodes together to make a feature film, and it's a quirky piece of nonsense with great fight scenes in it. You can find that on Amazon.com. In The Danger Element, I play the wacky, evil Doctor Elymas with a French accent, and it's well worth watching just for that.

Yeah, you have to tune in for that.

Doug Jones: And also on Amazon, if you like science fiction in the space realm, is a web series called Nobility. It's also a spaceship adventure, and on that spaceship, the Nobility, I play the ship psychologist. I'm not in much of it, but what scenes I do have, I'm a wackadoodle who is kind of the quintessential psychologist who needs therapy more than anybody else on the ship. I'm a bit of a comic relief in that storyline.

So those are some lesser-known things that are out there and available to watch, but right now this is a very exciting time of life for me because I've never had two huge things happening and available at the same time with The Shape of Water and season one of Star Trek: Discovery. Episode nine aired on CBS All Access, and that is the cliffhanger that introduces a little break in our season one schedule. And then we come back for chapter two of season one in January for the last six episodes of the season.

During that little break in season one airing, The Shape of Water will be coming out in theaters December 8th. So nobody could have planned this better timing-wise for me.

With Commander Saru on Star Trek: Discovery, I've fallen so much in love with him. The writers have been telling me he's kind of like the Spock or the Data of the show, the one on the bridge who doesn't look like everybody else, who is charming and curious with his origins and his interaction with the humans around him.

The character has so many charming moments, and even though he's refined and well-spoken and intelligent, he also has a very wide emotional range. As the season progresses, you're just seeing so many different colors inside of him and he has such an emotional range that the writers have blessed me with.

So that continues throughout to the end. A recent episode that just aired was a big one for me, where I was part of an away mission, and in that landing party, something goes amuck. I get influenced by something on the planet, and I turn. And you finally see my land animal capability for my gazelle-like physicality, and it was a fun and emotional ride, episode eight was.

Then with The Shape of Water coming out, this beautiful film that was my sixth film with Guillermo del Toro, and also I was a recurring character on his TV series, The Strain. We've been through just an awful lot together in the last 20 years. So when he verbally told me about The Shape of Water, we were working on Crimson Peak at the time.

Oh, nice.

Doug Jones: And he pulled me into his office one day on a day off and just pitched this whole idea of The Shape of Water to me. This was back in 2014, so it's been a while, and he didn't have a script written yet. And it was presented much like Thomas Woodrow did over the phone with me about We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew. I didn't see a script yet, but I was very intrigued by the story time we were having over the phone.

Well, this was the same thing in Guillermo's office. He verbally told me what the storyline was and he wanted me to play the creature. And I was just so, so happy that he was going to do another scaled-down artistic film. He hadn't done one of those since Pan's Labyrinth—a bigger budget, bigger studio kind of a thing. And for him to now do a 19 million dollar budget movie released by Fox Searchlight, it's like okay, those have the markings of Guillermo getting back to what he does so, so well and in a creative environment where he gets to create whatever he wants.

And once he told this story of The Shape of Water to me, I verbally remarked, "Okay, this one is going to get a lot of critical attention." And I called it because the minute it hit the Venice Film Festival, the critics were able to see it and write about it for the first time, and they blessed us with such amazing, beautiful reviews. So I'm very excited to see the ride this film takes us on once it opens.

It's another one of those movies that even though it's set in 1962, Guillermo uses it as a narrative of the world we're in now, the America that we're in now. And with the parallels of the fear of someone who is other than us, the fear of someone who is other than what's considered normal. And this movie is full of others. We've got a mute woman who is the lead, and her form of communication is different than others. The lead is Sally Hawkins, who just does a brilliant job. She will wrench your heart in this performance she gives. And her best friend in the film is played by Octavia Spencer, and being a woman of color back in the '60s was her own sort of sense of other. And another friend of hers, her next-door neighbor where she lives at her apartment above a movie theater, is an older gay gentleman played by Richard Jenkins, another sense of other from the '60s that was not allowed.

And then me, of course, being this fish man as the centerpiece of the film who is kind of introduced as the storyline. Talk about "other," I'm a one-off that came from the Amazon. So they're trying to figure me out and test me to see what I'm all about and how can I be used in this secret government facility. So, me being a complete outcast and with a cast of outcasts, how do we all find and express love? Love is a constant theme in that movie. Every character you meet is dealing with love on their level, in their own ways, with their own obstacles.

So with Sally Hawkins and me, ours is the romantic love story that's unfolding in front of you. And only Guillermo del Toro could fashion a movie together where the monster and a human form a romantic bond that the audience is actually rooting for. I think only Guillermo del Toro can put this together. When you watch The Shape of Water, you find yourself absolutely hoping this love can actualize and be consummated and completed. It's unlike anything I've ever done before, and I'm just so proud of Guillermo for having the vision and pushing forward with it because this returns into that Pan's Labyrinth level of beauty and art.

Yeah, we really do need stories like that, and I'm so excited to see del Toro get back to, like you said, what he does best with the human stories and finding that humanity. And we need that kind of "love will conquer all" story right now.

Doug Jones: Much like we were talking about with We've Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew, it's this film that helps us deal with the world we're in right now. We've Forgotten takes us to the future. The Shape of Water takes us to the past. Star Trek: Discovery takes us to the way, way future out in outer space. That's what entertainment does for us. It takes us somewhere that we're not. It helps us escape a little bit, but then helps us come back to our real world after we're done watching that piece of entertainment and empowers us a little bit to face the demons, face the space aliens, face the monsters in our own life and with an understanding that maybe we can do something to make our world a better place.


In case you missed it, read part 1 of our interview with Doug Jones here.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.