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Watch How They Made an Amphibious Creature a Credible Romantic Lead in Awesome The Shape of Water Video

You don’t get 13 Oscar nominations for nothing, folks. Guillermo del Toro’s lovingly made, gorgeously realized The Shape of Water is that rare film—both a technical and emotional triumph. You don’t have much time to marvel at the technical stuff because you’re pretty much immediately swept away by the emotions of the story, by the radiant performance of Sally Hawkins, as the mute heroine, Elisa Esposito, and her utterly believable, ultimately incandescent love for the Asset, the amphibious man-like creature who, well, gives incredible shape to water.

Well, you’ve seen the film, it’s been feted with more Oscars than any other movie from last year, so now it’s time to marvel at the particulars. In this case, those particulars are the incredible visual effects, which were so expertly applied that at no point during the film do you ever question whether or not actor Doug Jones amphibious creature is real. He is real, with real feelings and emotions, and because you believe that, the entire film is able to fall into place.

Writer/director Guillermo del Toro is a master of the complicated monsters, and with The Shape of Water he’s given us one that we’d be cold blooded not to love. Del Toro and his team spent weeks simply sketching designs of what the creature would look like, lovingly conjuring the heart of the film from the deep of the auteur’s creative consciousness. In this new video released by Fox Searchlight, del Toro, Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones and more discuss how the creature came to be, with the incredibly difficult task of making a monster not only lovable, but also, well, attractive.

“This thing has to be attracted to a woman, this lady falls in love with it, my directive was to make him handsome,” says Mike Mill, creature designer for the film. Some of the ways in which Mill helped give Doug Jones creature some appealing features included fuller lips and an enviable physique.

“He’s handsome,” Jones says in the video, “in a fish like way.”

Check out this glorious look at movie magic, in which a fish-man hybrid from the Amazon can not only be conjured and created before our very eyes, but be made a credible, ultimately incredible romantic lead in one of the best films of the year.

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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.

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