As the release date of The Shape of Water creeps ever closer and closer, director and ultimate monster maven  Guillermo del Toro has been tweeting out bits and pieces detailing the design of the Asset, the amphibious creature played by Doug Jones. film’s story–that of a blossoming romance between a woman (Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito) and a fish-man–is one that’s been on del Toro’s mind since he was seven and first saw Creature from the Black Lagoon. As he told the Hollywood Reporter, when he saw the creature swimming under actress Julie Adams, “I loved that the creature was in love with her, and I felt an almost existential desire for them to end up together.”

The production notes and images he’s been sharing online emphasize that sense of tenderness and care. On Tuesday, he shared images of the tests done to finalize the Asset’s shape and color, and even all of the creature’s “pores, veins, bumps, [and] scars.”

Despite the inspiration for the film, del Toro noted the differences between The Shape of Water’s creature and the Gill-man. “I don’t think [the Gill-man] is designed in a way that he can be a romantic lead,” he said. “It’s beautiful, but it’s not a romantic lead.” So, with the help of sculptor Mike Hill, he got to work on designing a creature with a soul–and a mouth that could be kissed.

Its soul is most evident in its eyes, which changed throughout production. On Twitter, del Toro wrote that, after changing the pupil, which was deemed to be too wide, “We also reduced the perimeter of the eye to make the creature look more intelligent, less animalistic.”

While Strickland, the military man played by Michael Shannon, has no sympathy for the creature, it’s not hard to see why Elisa falls in love with it. It’s beautiful, and born out of such care, that it’s difficult not to reciprocate that care in turn.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that it’s just an extremely handsome creature–just wait until you see it in motion.

Featured Image: Fox Searchlight

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