Guillermo Del Toro Reveals The Gay Filmmaker Who Influenced “The Shape Of Water”

And who was the out actor originally considered to play the film's gay character?

A new Guillermo del Toro movie is always cause for a celebration, especially his new film, The Shape of Water, which recently hit the festival circuit, winning the Golden Lion (Best Picture) award at the Venice Film Festival.

The fantasy film follows Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning lady at a top secret laboratory in Baltimore. The lab is housing a fish-man creature, who Eliza falls in love with. The movie also co-stars Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins, who plays Giles, a gay man and friend to Eliza.

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In a new interview with The Playlist, del Toro reveals the inspiration behind Giles, and how the role was originally written for Ian McKellen.

“Ian is a guy that I find endearing and adorable and I think it was sort of based on a director I admired that he played, James Whale [in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters]. It was a composite of people I met in the past,” said del Toro.


The acclaimed director went onto explain how during the Mexican independent film movement in the ’70s and ’80s, he produced the first gay comedy in the history of Mexican cinema, Dona Herlinda and Her Son:

It was directed by a really brave, really smart gay filmmaker, called Jaime Humberto Hermosillo who was my screenplay teacher. I think [Richard’s character] was a composite of people I’ve met or people that I thought embodied the angst of that era. In the ’60s. A guy was so afraid of even being found out. It was like a tacit agreement of prosecution back then.


The Shape of Water is currently up for the Peoples Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and film critics believe that with the movie opening wide in December (prime awards season slot) that the cast, including Hawkins and Jenkins, will get some much-deserved Oscar nominations.


We love that del Toro included a gay character in his new film, as an homage to a filmmaker who inspired him in the past, but we have loved del Toro ever since he gave us shots of shirtless Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim.

The Shape of Water hits theaters December 8.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."