Here Is The One Guy Behind All Of Your Favorite Movie Monsters

You might not know the name "Doug Jones," but trust us, you know Doug Jones.  Most moviegoers won't recognize him at first glance, but they will recognize his iconic portrayal of some of cinema's most famous monsters. What Andy Serkis has done for iconic, motion-capture performances, Jones has done for characters buried so deeply in prosthetics and make-up that you can't even recognize the person underneath.

Let's take a look at the man who makes monsters feel human.


  • He Suffers For His Art

    He Suffers For His Art
    Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

    Jones isn’t a great actor just because he’s tall and thin, nor because he’s particularly good at sitting still for lengthy makeup applications. In addition to his acting chops, he’s also tough as nails. During filming for Hellboy 2, Jones wore a giant set of wings for his part as the Angel of Death. Those wings dug into his skin beneath the prosthetics and costume, making him literally bleed, but he didn’t complain until he was directly asked how he was feeling.

    The Shape of Water includes a scene in which Jones’s character dances with another, and a dancing double was hired to take some of the pressure off of Jones - except the dancer, unused to the heat of such a costume, was so uncomfortable they vomited and then passed out after one take. Jones, however, was able to finish the scene.

  • He Has Spent Countless Hours Of His Life In The Makeup Chair

    What makes Doug Jones such a memorable creature actor is that he's not just a motion capture guy to be drawn over with CGI. Many of his roles are done with practical effects, which means spending hours in the makeup chair. Makeup for Abe Sapien in Hellboy could take up to seven hours, while the transformation for The Asset in The Shape of Water took just two. While these incredible prosthetics are what allow movies like Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth to look amazing even years after their release, they're also a hindrance when it comes to chatting and hanging out with co-stars. Jones' sacrifice makes for great movies for us and is a serious and underappreciated aspect of the work that he does.

  • Jones And Guillermo del Toro Are Close Artistic Partners

    Guillermo del Toro wasn't the first director to cast Doug Jones, nor was he the last, but the working relationship between the two has fostered better movies for the rest of us. But del Toro isn't just Jones's favorite director to work with - he's his favorite director, period.

    The two met when Jones was brought on for reshoots as the bug creature in Mimic and they found that they both had similar interests in monsters and monster movies. By the time they worked together on Hellboy, their thought processes were so similar that they rarely had to talk out loud. Instead, Jones and del Toro instinctively knew what the other wanted and developed a shorthand for communicating with one another.

  • You've Seen Him In More Roles Than You Know

    Jones is primarily known for his monster roles, which look so vastly different from one another that it’s hard to recognize that it’s the same man behind all of them. In fact, despite few recognizing his face, Jones is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood. He has over 150 credits in various projects, including big-budget Hollywood films, short independent work, and commercials. While some actors may dip into prosthetics on occasion, it’s Jones’s bread and butter as an actor, and his skills and experience mean that nobody else can do it quite like him.

  • Monster Movies Are A Far Cry From His Original Goal To Be A Comedy Actor

    Despite monsters, aliens, and ghosts comprising most of his acting roles, Jones didn’t set out to be a horror, sci-fi, or fantasy actor. Jones came to Los Angeles in the 1980s to pursue his dream not to be a master of horrific disguise, but to be a comedic actor like Jerry Lewis. Jones was hoping to act on sitcoms, particularly with the sense of humor he cultivated as a child.

    After getting into the field through commercials, Jones acted in movies like Batman Forever (as a clown) before landing the role of Billy Butcherson in Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus seemed to be a great start for launching his career - except that the movie bombed, only rising to cult fame after its release.

  • The Gentlemen In Buffy Were Modeled After Jones

    "Hush" is one of the most universally beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes, and for good reason. The episode features some terrifying villains in the form of the mysterious Gentlemen, who steal both voices and hearts. These characters are memorable not just for the chilling effect they have on Sunnydale, but for their horrifying faces.

    Doug Jones is to thank for the Gentlemen's look. When auditioning for the role, he was told to pretend to be cutting out somebody's heart and smiling about it. Jones's smile was so good that they changed the masks for the costumes, which were constructed with the smile in place, to allow the actor to showcase his own grin. Jones not only got the role, but fundamentally changed the character in the process.