Doug Jones' Best Performances In Guillermo Del Toro Movies, Ranked

Doug Jones in John Dies at the End
(Image credit: Magnet)

Some of the most celebrated director/actor pairings in cinematic history include the frequent collaborations of Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro, Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson, and Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few. However, one of my personal favorite examples is Guillermo del Toro and Doug Jones — a pairing that I do not think gets quite enough attention in comparison. Of course, this could be because, in each of their collaborations, the actor is impossible to recognize.

The Academy Award-winning filmmaker and master of horror and fantasy often employs the Hocus Pocus cast member to play non-human characters under heavy amounts of makeup and prosthetics. Yet, the results are always a wondrous and unique pleasure to behold and are key as to why the actor has become an icon among horror movie lovers despite how few times we have ever seen his face on screen. It would be nearly impossible to choose a favorite among those examples, but I am going to try in this ranked list of Doug Jones’ most awesome performances in some of the best Guillermo del Toro movies — starting with an honorable mention from the small screen.

Doug Jones on The Strain

(Image credit: FX)

Honorable Mention: The Master And The Ancient (The Strain)

Years before becoming the creator and host Netflix’s grotesque and disturbing anthology series, Cabinet of Curiosities, Guillermo del Toro’s first major TV project was the FX’s series adaptation of his own novel series that he co-wrote with author Chuck Hogan, The Strain — a chronicle of humanity’s war against a cataclysmic outbreak of vampirism. 

Doug Jones made his first appearance on one of the best horror TV shows streaming on Hulu in Season 1 as the original Master (the one whom all bloodsuckers answer to) and later landed a recurring role as the leader of the seven original vampires called The Ancients in several more episodes. Both characters are among the few speaking roles that have allowed Jones to really show his chops in a Del Toro project.  

Doug Jones in Crimson Peak

(Image credit: Universal)

5. Edith’s Mother And Lady Sharpe (Crimson Peak)

Doug Jones also pulls double duty in Guillermo del Toro’s star-studded ode to victorian ghost stories from 2015, Crimson Peak, as the ghosts of both the forboding mother of Mia Wasikowska’s character, Edith, and Lady Sharpe — the mother of Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain’s characters, Thomas and Lucille. 

I might have ranked these tortured spirits higher if not for how reliant their appearances and even some of their more essential movements are on CGI. However, Jones does make both roles quite disturbing and, easily, one of the most essential reasons to watch this box office disappointment, but neither are my choice for his scariest work, which I will get to soon.

Fauno in Pan's Labyrinth

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

4. Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth)

One of the most recognizable Doug Jones characters from a Guillermo del Toro movie is technically a speaking part, but it is actually Pablo Adán’s voice and not his that you hear guiding young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) as she escapes her cruel reality and goes into a bizarre and startling fantasy world. 

Nonetheless, it is the profound emotional range that the actor evokes while under such heavy amounts of David Martí and Montse Ribé’s Oscar-winning makeup that make the title role of 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth (directly referred to as “Fauno”) such a memorable creature and the Spanish-language film such a timeless modern classic. However, to be honest, The Faun is not even my favorite role of Jones’ from the movie alone.

One of the monsters in Pan's Labyrinth.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

3. The Pale Man (Pan’s Labyrinth)

Pan’s Labyrinth also sees Doug Jones giving two top-notch performances for the price of one, but I chose to keep them separate on this list because I especially have a lot to say about his performance as The Pale Man and believe it deserves its own moment of praise. 

One of the more prevailing thoughts I had while rewatching the film recently was just how unbelievably frightening he is as the grotesque creature who chases after Ofelia for stealing some of his grapes despite the role’s wordless simplicity. Every reason you need to explain why Jones is in so many great horror movies is in that haunting scene.

Doug Jones in Hellboy II: The Golden Army

(Image credit: Legendary)

2. Abe Sapien (The Hellboy Movies)

However, the scariest Doug Jones’ roles are not necessarily his best roles and, in fact, the one I first picture whenever I think of him is Abe Sapien from Guillermo del Toro’s thrilling adaptations of Mike Mignola’s popular Dark Horse comic book series. 

The actor originally shared the role of this highly sophisticated and endlessly charming aquatic being with Frasier cast member David Hyde Pierce, who chose to go uncredited in 2004’s Hellboy as the character’s voice, believing the role truly belonged to Jones. I agree, which is why I am glad he was able to fully embody the character when 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army showed a deeper side of his humanity, and wish Abe’s proposed spin-off could have happened.

the shape of water sally hawkins doug jones

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

1. The Amphibian Man (The Shape Of Water)

Then again, I suppose we could say that the Abe Sapien movie did happen after all, considering the glaring similarities between Doug Jones’ Hellboy character and his role in Guillermo del Toro’s beatiful Best Picture Oscar winner from 2017. 

However, what makes The Amphibian Man stand out from the actor’s other famous aquatic creature and all of his characters, in my opinion, is his ability to say so much while saying nothing at all and while wearing a deeply uncomfortable, but stunning, outfit. Only Jones could make the otherwise irreverent love story between a half-man, half-fish and a non-speaking custodian (Sally Hawkins) at the center of The Shape of Water such a moving experience.

I could also talk forever about all the great performances that Doug Jones has given outside of his collaborations with Guillermo del Toro and without all the makeup, too. For instance, he was really creepy as the victim of a mysterious creature’s kidnapping in one of Mike Flanagan’s best (and most underrated) movies, Absentia, from 2011. He also gave a brief but memorable performance in John Dies at the End from 2012 and he was truly something to freak about when he played a demonic ice cream man in 2010. No one is better at standing out in a film or TV cast without even being truly seen than this man of many talents.

Jason Wiese
SEO Team Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.