Discovering the English actress Sally Hawkins, who in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is Elisa, the wordless lover of the sea monster.
The sublime female protagonist of The Shape of Water is Sally Hawkins, who for her admirable performance was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress. Sweet, slender, expressive and able to smile with her eyes, she managed to vibrate with emotion in every single scene of the film despite the impossibility of speech to which hers forced her. Elisa, a woman with a heart of gold and dreams as much in color as in black and white. Guillermo del Toro he knew and appreciated Sally Hawkins, and from the beginning he wanted it very strongly, so much so that he said: “Not only that Sally it was the first choice, but it was the only choice. I wrote the film for Sally. I wanted Elisa’s character to be beautiful in her particular way, she didn’t have to be a perfume advertisement woman. It was necessary that Elisa was credible, the woman who might be sitting next to you on the bus. At the same time I wanted the character to have an almost magical, ethereal brightness and beauty. “
You should know that the first time the director and actress met was during the endless dinner that accompanies the Golden Globes ceremony. It was 2015 and Sally was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Blue Jasmine. Guillermo he was a bit tipsy and walked over to her and started talking to her about The Shape of Water. Some time later he commented on what had happened saying: “I was drunk, but a film like mine could very well be a drunkard’s film.” Obviously the Hawkins, at the time, he already had a solid career behind him. Let’s go back to her professional career and then find out how she prepared for the role of Elisa.
Sally Hawkins: what she did before The Shape of Water
Sally Hawkins was born in London on 27 April 1976. Her parents, who are both illustrators of children’s books, indulge her in her passion for acting, which was born and developed within her at the age of 3 after a show at the circus . Sally she wants to make comedy, but fate has theater in store for her. He engages in several Shakespearean plays and in 1998 he graduates from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The same year he meets the cinema participating in a blockbuster with all the trimmings: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. She’s just an extra, and her name doesn’t appear in the credits. In 2002 the actress meets Mike Leigh, who will be his director in three films: All or nothing, Vera Drake’s secret e Happiness brings luck – Happy Go Lucky. Of the latter the Hawkins she is the protagonist and, in the role of an elementary school teacher with a golden heart and always high morale, she bewitches every single spectator, so much so that she wins the Silver Bear in Berlin and a Golden Globe. Before de Happiness brings luck, the Hawkins works with Woody Allen in Dreams and crimes. The New York director returned to work with her in 2013 in Blue Jasmine, dove Sally Hawkins is Ginger, the adoptive sister of the character of Cate Blanchett. Her performance earned her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Before Blue Jasmine, Sally he lets himself be directed by Mark Romanek in the poignant Do not leave me, in We Want Sex leads the 1968 strike of 187 workers at the Ford Dagenham sewing machines, after which she impersonates Miss Reed in Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska. In 2014 Sally Hawkins launches into a blockbuster with all the trimmings: Godzilla, where is the doctor Vivienne Graham, a scientist who assists Dr. Ishiro Serizawa of Ken Watanabe. The film is successful and the actress’s notoriety increases. Then it comes Paddington, the story of the teddy bear that came to London from Peru. Sally is the lady Brown, who welcomes him into the house, and resumes the role in Paddington 2.
Sally Hawkins becomes Elisa … or Guillermo?
To become Elisa, who does not speak, Sally Hawkins he diligently studied the acting game of a series of silent stars, mainly comedians: Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton. Another great source of inspiration was for her Audrey Hepburn. Naturally, the film director suggested who to take inspiration from and what to study Guillermo del Toro, who loaned her a collection of Blu-rays. 18 months before the shooting of The Shape of Water, when there was still no script, Sally Hawkins received a draft script from the Mexican director. When she realized that the film was about a woman who fell in love with a little mermaid (or a newt or a sea monster), the actress felt a shiver run down her spine: in those days she was writing a story of a woman who didn’t know she was a mermaid. There Hawkins he loved the script, and later said, “Reading the script was very emotional for me, because it told so well about life and death, and our vulnerability. It spoke of oppression and repression, and the dark forces that dominate our world and that only an equally powerful force can counter: love “.
Of Elisa Sally Hawkins he loved the purity and the extraordinary and the rich inner life, his imaginary world, in short, in addition to his kindness that seems to contrast with great strength. SallyHowever, at times she felt a little fearful on set, because she knew very well that, deep down, Elisa others were not if not Guillermo del Toro. The director had (and has) the same resolve and the same vulnerability as the protagonist of The Shape of Water. “Guillermo is the last romantic left “- once said there Hawkins – “and for this he always follows his heart”.