Del Toro: The fishman’s butt in The Shape of Water is sexy by design

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Dec 26, 2017

If, while watching The Shape of Water, your inner monologue paused to marvel every time the camera moved across the fishman’s well-developed backside … well, then: Director Guillermo del Toro had you exactly where he wanted you.

Although it already was pretty self-evident, even from just a fleeting glance, now we’ve got hard evidence that the amphibious derriere of Elisa Esposito’s love interest was always meant to bring the sexy. Del Toro himself is saying as much, in fact, in the film's official art book, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times.

“When it came to his sex appeal, one attribute was key,” the book explains. “The amphibian man had to have a great butt.”

Del Toro says he relied on the taste of the females in his family to decide when the character design of the amphibian man, played by Doug Jones, had finally passed the eye test.

“Every female in the del Toro household was crucial,” the director explained in one of the book’s packed-in interviews. “‘Too much derriere, not enough derriere, the shoulders are not beautiful enough.’ The butt we show abundantly in the movie. It was a very delicate sculpture process because it always had to be run by my household.”

If that sounds like a lot of overthinking, remember: The love story between Elisa (played by Sally Hawkins) and the amphibian man is at the film’s very emotional center, and it was important for del Toro to endear both characters to the audience.

And, with the fishman’s communication skills necessarily limited by … y’know, by not being a human being in the first place (even as Esposito, for her part, is unable to speak), physical attributes had to stand in to do most of the heavy lifting.

“All in all, this was the longest gestation period for a creature design—three years counting from 2013 to 2016!” del Toro said. “I think it’s some kind of record!”

Tell us we’re not crazy. Have you, too, noticed the amphibian man’s heroic proportions? Del Toro and his family put a lot of effort into making sure that, if you did, at least you came away impressed.