Director Guillermo del Toro said about Sally Hawkins, "Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally, I wrote the movie for Michael [Shannon]... Sally is, I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal."
The creature design is heavily inspired by the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Michael Shannon's character even says they picked it up in a river in South America, which is the setting of The Creature from the film.
After seeing the trailer, Kevin Smith tweeted, "Seeing something as beautiful as this makes me feel stupid for ever calling myself a 'Director.'"
Most of the characters were written with the actors in mind. Octavia Spencer said her character was reminiscent of a collaboration between her roles in The Help (2011) and Hidden Figures (2016), and that she "would have played the desk if Guillermo del Toro had asked me to."
Director Guillermo del Toro first met Sally Hawkins at the 2014 Golden Globes and pitched the film to her while being intoxicated. He says, "I was drunk and it's not a movie that makes you sound less drunk."
It took over nine months to arrive at the look of the creature, and director Guillermo del Toro calls it the most difficult movie he and his team have ever designed.
Doug Jones spent three hours every day getting into the costume. According to him, it was nothing compared to previous costumes he has worn in other films by Guillermo del Toro.
Composer Alexandre Desplat provided the whistling featured in the soundtrack. Guillermo del Toro wanted the score to feature whistling because it contrasted how many scenes of the film feature water.
Sally Hawkins researched Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton and Audrey Hepburn for her part. Director Guillermo del Toro even bought her a Blu-ray collection featuring the performers prior to filming.
Director Guillermo del Toro originally wanted to shoot the film in black and white, but ultimately decided against it due to budget restraints.
Octavia Spencer said she "would have walked the Earth" to work with director Guillermo del Toro. She was so taken with the set and the many props that she asked him how many she was allowed to keep.
Richard Jenkins was cast via an email from Guillermo del Toro with the message, "I hope you love this [the script] as much as I do."
Director Guillermo del Toro began working on the film in 2011. He self-financed a crew that designed both the creature and the lab.
Despite visual similarities, director Guillermo del Toro denied that this film has any connections to Hellboy (2004).
This project marked the first time director Guillermo del Toro had a female co-writer on his script.
In one scene, Michael Shannon's character asks, "What am I doing, interviewing the help?" while referencing Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer's characters. Octavia Spencer famously won an Academy Award for role in The Help (2011).
Director Guillermo del Toro worked on this film for several years and developed it even before he began production on Pacific Rim (2013). Eventually, he chose to direct this film instead of Pacific Rim Uprising (2018).
The film is set during a real-life war and features magical elements. This was also the premise for director Guillermo del Toro's earlier film Pan's Labyrinth (2006).
This was the first English-language film to win the main award, The Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival, since Somewhere (2010).
According to Danish DP Dan Laustsen, 95% of the film was shot in a studio, and the limited exteriors required lots of rain which had to be artificially created and warmed due to the chilly Canadian winter weather.
The pieces of vinyl Elisa shows the creature are "The Great Benny Goodman" and "Glenn Miller Plays Selections from The Glenn Miller Story and Other Hits." Both were released in 1956.
With the release of Maudie (2016) the same year, this marked the first time Sally Hawkins was the lead in two theatrical releases within the same year. In both films, she portrayed a woman with a disability. In Maudie (2017), her character suffers from a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and in The Shape of Water (2017), her character Is mute.
The song featured in the first trailer is Serge Gainsbourg's "La Javanaise," sung by Madeleine Peyroux.
A series of photos depicting artist James Jean's progress on the poster artwork can be found on his Instagram page. On two such photographs, reference photos of the creature can be seen in the corner, presumably unreleased stills from the actual movie.
This was the third collaboration between director Guillermo del Toro and composer Alexandre Desplat, but their first film with del Toro as director. The composer previously provided the music for the del Toro-produced animated movie Rise of the Guardians (2012), and he scored some of the del Toro-penned and produced animated series Trollhunters (2016).
Both Sally Hawkins and Michael Stuhlbarg also appeared in Blue Jasmine (2013), but they did not share any scenes.
This was the third collaboration between cinematographer Dan Laustsen and Guillermo del Toro. They previously worked on Mimic (1997) and Crimson Peak (2015).
Gala Screening on the 14th Edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, screened on December 10, 2017.
The film is considered to be a retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast" by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The film is the story of a mute woman working in a high-security government laboratory whom falls in love with a captured amphibian creature.
Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Shannon were both in the HBO television show Boardwalk Empire (2010)
Both Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg also starred in HBO's Boardwalk Empire (2010).