Behind every great talent, there's a great someone or other as the saying goes. Without a doubt, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro's has found his muse in the mime/contortionist turned actor, Doug Jones.
Jones played the aquatic creature Abe Sapien in the director's 2004 movie Hellboy after first working with del Toro in the 1997 film, Mimic. However the filmmaker and actor's relationship truly gelled with Pan's Labyrinth, where Jones not only played the title character of the faun, but the iconic Pale Man, whose eyes are located in the palm of his hands. It's a character that shall forever remain a classic in cinema.
In the current Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, del Toro ups the ante with Jones, having him play not one, not two, but three roles in the film. Besides reprising the 150 year old Abe, who has the power to read objects and know their past and future, Jones also plays the fleshy court Chamberlain and the film's piece de resistance -- the winged Angel of Death, who has six eyes located along the top of each wing. It's a creature similar to Pale Man, however not as spectacular. Still, Jones has a way of immortalizing the creatures del Toro has him carrying out. Both of these men together are nothing short of magical.
If one is ever lucky enough to spend time with Doug Jones, as I have been on a couple of occasions, you can't help but see all of his previous characters when he's standing in front of you. Not because he looks like any of them, which he doesn't. In fact, with his tall and lanky frame, fair features, gentle demeanor and a unique sense of style, Jones bears no resemblance to the often-scary creatures he portrays. But to witness Jones' characters come to life, you need only to look at the actor's hands.
When Jones speaks, his hands move animatedly around. His long, thin fingers fan around to describe a story or to make a point. It is freaky and fascinating to watch, yet not the least bit disturbing. To be on the receiving end of that is to have a Sixth Sense moment, where you instantly -- and simultaneously -- see Abe Sapien's aquatic hands, the spread out wings of the Angel of Death and Pale Man's hands, minus the eyeballs. Jones' hand movements are an unconscious mannerism of his and it leaves you awe-struck.
Del Toro's next project is The Hobbit, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel. It plays to del Toro's strengths with its fantastical world of dragons, elves and other such creatures. Though casting has not yet been set for The Hobbit, del Toro told me recently he'd love to find a place in there for Jones.
The director is known to work with people multiple times, and actors like Perlman (Cronos, Hellboy 1 & 2 and Blade 2) and Luke Goss (Hellboy 2, Blade 2) have been no exception. But Jones is shaping up to be an indispensable staple of del Toro movies. Like the American Express card motto, the filmmaker shouldn't leave home without him.
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