Meet 57-year-old actor Doug Jones. You’ve definitely seen him before, but if he were to walk right up to you in the street, you wouldn’t be able to recognize his face.
He has infiltrated your television and movie screens for three decades in over 150 iconic roles. However, I bet you haven’t even heard his name before, right?
Jones has had major roles in Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Star Trek: Discovery. So why don’t you recognize him?
It’s because Jones is a costume actor. He regularly covers his face with makeup, latex, and prosthetics to transform into some of the most memorable monsters and demons in Hollywood.
Jones didn’t set out to be a costume actor, though he readily admits his appearance helps him land those parts. At 6’3″ and 140 pounds, his tall and skinny frame combined with an angular face makes him the perfect candidate to become an on-screen monster.
“I’m hired because I’m a tall, skinny guy — with other talents, I hope,” Jones said. “But the creature effects guys love to start with a skinny, long palette because they can build on it and not make it too bulky.”
Jones said he never set out to become as costume actor, but instead wanted to become a comedian. However, his appearance and a background in mime led him to one of his first gigs as a dancing mummy. Having to be wrapped in bandages from head to toe for the part would turn out to be a forerunner of things to come.
He is pictured below in Hocus Pocus.
Jones continued to get steady acting gigs, but the parts all involved having his face concealed or wearing a mask. This meant Jones never got paid above scale.
“Their argument was ‘We can put anybody else in there.’ It’s a really tough place to be in,” he said of the producers who hired him.
He was beginning to doubt his acting ability, but well-known director Guillermo del Toro convinced Jones otherwise. Del Toro cast Jones in Pan’s Labyrinth, playing two iconic creatures, the Pale Man and the Faun.
Jones received a lot of credit for his acting skills in the movie, and his name was beginning to be recognized in industry circles. Jones and Del Toro would work together many more times, including as a main character in the upcoming movie The Shape of Water.
“A creature performer needs to be a very odd combination of marathon runner and a mime, who can express himself through layers and layers of latex and acrylic and silicon,” said Del Toro.
“It’s a very, very rare discipline. There are very, very few that are actual actors, in my opinion, that go beyond being able to work in a suit or under makeup. Doug is a proper actor. When you need that level of finesse, Doug is the only one I’ve met that I trust with that level of commitment and craftsmanship and artistry.”
Jones couldn’t be happier with his acting career now, even if no one recognizes his face. He recently got to fulfill a career-long goal by being asked to play a vampire.
He will be starring in director David Lee Fisher’s spoken-dialogue version of the classic 1922 silent movie Nosferatu.
“That’s my dream come true,” Jones said. “Are you kidding? I can’t be more excited about it.”
If you want to check out Jones in his latest role, you can view the trailer for The Shape of Water below. Something tells me this time you’ll be able to tell which character is him!
The Shape of Water is due to be released next month.