Here’s a riddle for you: which actor do Batman Returns, Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth all have in common?
The answer might not immediately spring to mind and that’s because you’ve probably never seen his face.
Tall and slender Doug Jones has acted in all these films and more with him having received over 150 credits over 30 years as an actor.
In almost all of these roles he has been dressed in masks, costumes or make-up, playing a motley crew of menacing figures such as beasts, demons, and aliens.
Now the 57-year-old prolific actor has finally shown his face in a fascinating interview with Buzzfeed.
“I’m hired because I’m a tall, skinny guy – with other talents, I hope,” he told Buzzfeed. “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.”
Doug has continued to find work as an actor due to how willing he is to be utterly unrecognisable to fully inhabit his characters.
In his early career he starred as one of Danny De Vito’s Penguin’s goons in Batman Returns, along with the zombie Billy Butcherman in Hocus Pocus.
He then starred as one of the perpetually grinning gentlemen in the Buffy episode ‘Hush’, villains who stole people’s voices so they could gradually steal their hearts.
“You know that thing when you’re at a wedding and you’re smiling for pictures over and over again, and you’re [saying], ‘I can’t feel my face anymore’?” Jones said, pressing into his cheeks. “Well, we had that for like eight days in a row.”
Doug has had most of his big break thanks to the visionary director Guillermo del Toro’ who has cast him in six of his feature films.
Jones first played a giant cockroach in 1997’s horror thriller Mimic before playing the intelligent sea creature Abe Sapien in Del Toro’s version of Hellboy.
Sadly, due to marketing reasons, his voice for the character was dubbed over by David Hyde Pierce in the final film, the first of several rejections he has had to handle in his long career.
Del Toro didn’t forget Jones though as he cast him as two characters in his masterpiece Pan’s Labryinth, both as the Faun and the more famous Pale Man, the guy who only sees through eyes on the palms of his hands.
“To me, it was another sign of what kind of actor Doug is,” said del Toro. “A guy who commits – and when he commits, he’s of a piece with the part.”
Jones’ performances were so good that Pan’s Labyrinth was nominated for six Oscars and won three, including for Best Makeup, largely on the strength of his two portrayals.
While Jones admits that spending a life behind a mask and with rubber in his ears can be isolating and lonely, his career is slowly coming good.
Del Toro let him voice Abe Sapien in the Hellboy sequel Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and he even got his first series regular role as the friendly alien Cochise in three seasons of TNT’s Falling Skies.
He will star alongside Michael Shannon and Sally Hawkins in Del Toro’s upcoming film The Shape of Water, and is playing the vampire Nosferatu in a remake due out next year.
So next time you watch a film with an otherworldly tall character – keep an eye on the credits. It might well be Jones underneath all that make-up.