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INTERVIEW - RICHARD JENKINS


I look for parts that aren’t one-dimensional. That offer you an opportunity to make them into people, and not just serve the story. If he’s going to help the story, and he’s going to assist in this theft, then his vanity is going to get in the way. It’s still about him doing it, but he wants to be 51 and wear a hairpiece. That’s character. He has his moment flirting with the man in the pie shop.


It’s a heart-breaking moment. It’s such a hopeless thing for someone his age to think that. First of all, he has no idea if the guy is gay or straight. But this is 1962, when you lived a lie. I loved the way Giles has to manoeuvre in that moment to get up the courage to put his hand on somebody’s hand. But he gets strung up. For him, love is love. He understands people are people, and if you’re in love, you’re in love.





You mentioned the sets. Did you like your apartment? When you see it up close, it’s almost beautiful poverty. They're very old apartments. You can tell they split one in half and that's why we have this half window apiece, which is so beautiful. It's been painted about 40 times and all the paint's peeling off. It's one beautiful colour after another. It's authentic to the time, but it's not real. Elisa’s apartment is a different colour from mine. Mine's a little more amber. Hers is a little greener.


His was a world that I wasn't that familiar with. I had seen Pan’s Labyrinth, of course. He sent me an email and said, "Read this script. I'd like you to do Giles."


What was it like, working with Doug Jones in the creature suit? Doug is in that outfit for 15 hours at a time, I couldn’t do that. It must be so claustrophobic. But I remember, he was sitting in the bathtub. There’s a scene where he’s in the tub, and I’m drawing him. I remember sitting there, and I thought, Oh man, there’s a guy in a fish suit sitting in the tub. What have I done? But then Guillermo called action and everything changed. It was such a little change, just the way he turned his head, but I went, “Oh my god.” He’s been doing this kind of performance for such a long time, and he truly is an ectomorph.


The film premiered for the world at the Venice Film Festival, and you were in the audience. Do you like watching yourself? I’m not crazy about it, but I had a dear friend of mine tell me a few years ago, “It’s your face, and you’d better get used to looking at it. And you might learn something.” If you can get over that and kind of have the experience, it can be really fun. I used to never watch anything, but then I was watching television, and something that I was in 10 years earlier came on, and I was like, "This looks familiar." And then I could watch it because I'd forgotten about it. So that's what I try to do. I try to not remember what I did or what takes we used or didn't use.


What’s next for you? I just finished five months in Berlin for Berlin Station. I’m going to take a bit of a break and follow this film. Telluride, Toronto, London. I love this film and I love Guillermo and I want to support it. This is the kind of project you hope every movie will be. When you start, you go to the movies and see On The Waterfront and you see Spencer Tracy and you think, “I’m going to be in the movies, and that’s what I’m going to do.” It is rarely that way. Maybe, in your career, you have two or three movies that feel that way. This is one of them.


❞ What are the others?


The Visitor, and this movie nobody saw, one Tomahawk. Nobody would buy it. Film festivals turned it down. There was horrific violence in it, but it was not at all gory. It’s necessary and brutal and quick. But nobody knew what to do with the movie, so they sold it to a distributor that went straight to video. But it got two Independent Spirit nominations. And it’s one of the greatest parts I ever played; just a fabulous part.


The Shape of Water in cinemas 14th February


The Shape of Water in cinemas 14th February Get your copy of the February Issue to read the full Interview


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