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
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.