This was first reported by The Tracking Board as part of a casting announcement. Guillermo has not denied the report.
The film will be a small, indie picture for Fox Searchlight and hearkens back to one of Guillermo’s recurring loves: fish men! Here are the details reported by Tracking Board:
While details have long been kept under wraps, we’re hearing that the fairytale, set in 1963, centers around Elisa (Hawkins), a mute janitor working at a lab where an amphibious man is being held captive. When Elisa falls in love with the creature, she devises a plan to help him escape with the assistance of her neighbor (Jenkins). The world outside of the lab, however, may prove to be more dangerous for the amphibious man than Elisa could have anticipated.
As noted above, the film is set to star Elisa Hawkins and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Six Feet Under). Vanity Fair is reporting Michael Shannon (Zod!!) is in negotiations to play the film’s villain. The film is also set to star Olivia Hawkins.
Guillermo first made a splash with fish men with Abe Sapien in HELLBOY, and has often talked of his love for the Gill-man from THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. In fact the Gill-man was his first ever movie monster memory (per the A.V. Club):
The first time he noticed a movie monster
Guillermo Del Toro: I think the earliest time was when I saw the Gill-man in Creature From The Black Lagoon. That shot of the Gill-man swimming under Julie Adams, which was at the same time for a kid my age, mysteriously sexy, because I didn’t know what sexy was. [Laughs.] And enchanting and magical and powerful in a way that only monster movies can be. Still, to this day, I think it’s the perfect creature suit. In the history of film, there are two perfect creature suits: that and the Xenomorph in Alien.
The A.V. Club: What do you think makes it so perfect?
GDT: It’s just the marriage of the performer, the design, and the director. The way the environment allows them to exist is amazing. Creature From The Black Lagoon, the way they shot it, where they shot it, who shot it, everything is perfect.
And he went on to mention that it was also the first creature he ever designed:
The first time he designed his own monster
GDT: Well, the first drawing I made was the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I drew him, for some reason, eating ice cream. I have no good [Laughs.] answer, but they were two things that I thought were very important in my life—the ice cream and the Creature. [Laughs.] And it hasn’t changed to this day. Those are still two very important things in my life.
Guillermo always works from his heart, and it is no surprise he has come around to make a love story with a fish man. After all, he has had a love affair with a scaly fish prince all his life.
THE SHAPE OF THE WATER starts filming in Toronto this August. It is being produced by GDT and Callum Green.