Doug Jones isn’t a name that most TV and film audiences would recognize for obvious reasons. Jones, as a contortionist and mime artist, has perfected his craft mostly hidden away underneath heavy prosthetic makeup and visual effects. As an actor, he has played some of film and television’s most iconic monsters.
In an era of CGI, motion capture, and visual effects, actors like Jones are still in demand by directors who prefer using practical effects for characters. Unsurprisingly, Jones has collaborated with director Guillermo del Toro (renowned for his preference for practical special effects) on several of his films. In unveiling the artist, these are Doug Jones’ most iconic creature characters in film and television.
William “Billy” Butcherson in Hocus Pocus Films
One of Doug Jones’ earliest films with visual effects is the 1993 fantasy comedy Hocus Pocus. The previous year, Jones had played a minor role as the Thin Clown in Tim Burton‘s 1992 Batman Returns. In Hocus Pocus, he played the character of William “Billy” Butcherson. Jones reprised the role in the 2022 sequel, Hocus Pocus 2. Jones’ character was Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson’s (Bette Midler) love interest, whom she poisoned in 1693. He was resurrected in the film as a 300-year-old zombie.
Abe Sapien in Hellboy (2004)
Hellboy is Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 superhero film. The film received mostly positive reviews, with the standout character of Abe Sapien. It was the first time Doug Jones would portray the character, wearing prosthetic makeup. He reprised the role in the sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), and voiced the character in two direct-to-video animated films, Hellboy: Sword of Storms (2006) and Hellboy: Blood and Iron (2007).
Imp in Doom (2005)
Set in Mars, Doom (2005) was loosely based on the video game. Its top cast includes Dwayne Johnson, Karl Urban, and Rosamund Pike. Sent to Mars on a rescue mission, the selected marines encounter demonic creatures. Doug Jones plays two creatures, the Carmack Imp and Sever Imp. The movie was a Box-office bomb and received mostly negative reviews.
The Faun/The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is yet another Guillermo del Toro film. The Spanish-Mexican historical dark fantasy was critically acclaimed and a box-office success. Doug Jones was the actor portraying and underneath the prosthetic makeup of the Faun and the Pale Man. By playing both characters, Jones plays one of the movie’s protagonists and antagonists. The Faun guides Ofelia into the labyrinth, while the Pale Man is one of the villains Ofelia encounters.
Norrin Radd/ Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Tim Story‘s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) is a sequel to the 2005 Fantastic Four. In the movie, the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom are forced to align forces with the Silver Surfer to save Earth from Galactus. Doug Jones played the iconic character of the Silver Surfer. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer received below-average reviews from critics and performed moderately at the Box Office.
Thin Infected Man in Quarantine (2008)
Quarantine (2008) is a found footage horror film that follows the breakout of a mutated strain of rabies. As a found footage film, audiences watch the scenes from the lens of a recording video camera. Doug Jones plays the thin, infected man the crew encounters in the infected apartment building.
Angel of Death/The Chamberlain in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Besides reprising his role as Abe Sapien in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Doug Jones also played two unique creatures – The Angel of Death and The Chamberlain. The Angel of Death is a female angel with androgynous characteristics, while The Chamberlain is the doorkeeper for King Balor. Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the first time Jones was cast to play three characters.
Ice Cream Man in Legion (2010)
Although not a critic favorite, Legion (2010) was successful at the Box Office. It’s an action horror film centered around a darker nativity story. Doug Jones plays the possessed Ice cream man who works from his Ice cream truck. The film stars Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, and Tyrese Gibson.
Alien in The Watch (2012)
The Watch (2012) is a science fiction action-comedy with star-studded comedians. Amongst its cast are Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. The trio’s characters form a neighborhood watch but soon uncover an alien plot to take over the world. As human’s last hope, they work together to stop the aliens. Doug Jones’ character is the chief of the alien invaders.
Ghosts of Edith’s Mother/Lady Beatrice Sharpe in Crimson Peak (2015)
Doug Jones and director Guillermo del Toro team up again in this 2015 gothic romance Crimson Peak. Set in Edwardian-era England, Crimson Peak follows the story of a haunted house with ghostly visions. Jones portrays two of the five main ghosts in the film. Critical reviews were mostly positive; however, the film was a moderate box-office success.
Cochise in Falling Skies (2013–2015)
Although Doug Jones’ first television work in the list, Jones has had several guest appearances before landing the role of Cochise. Set in a post-apocalyptic era, Falling Skies was TNT’s science fiction series. With 52 episodes spread across 5 seasons, Falling Skies centers around the plot of an alien invasion on Earth. Jones’ character is introduced in season 3 and stays as a main character until the show’s final season. Cochise is the commander of the Volm aliens and an ally to humans to help fight off the invading Espheni.
The Ancient/The Master in The Strain (2014–2016)
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan created The Strain for FX. The horror drama series received amazing reviews from critics and audiences. Doug Jones makes an appearance in flashbacks from seasons 1 to 3. Jones plays two characters in the series across 6 episodes. He begins by portraying Ancients, the seven original vampires, and also The Master’s previous host before possessing Jusef Sardu (Robert Maillet).
Baron Afanas in What We Do in the Shadows (2019–2023)
What We Do in the Shadows is an FX mockumentary comedy horror. The series is centered around three vampires. It follows their lives as they try to blend in with humans and overcome other supernatural beings. Doug Jones played Baron Afanas, introduced to the series as an ancient vampire from the Old Country. Jones’ character appears in 10 of the series’ 50 episodes.
Captain Saru in Star Trek: Discovery (2017–present)
Star Trek: Discovery has been Doug Jones’ most successful work in television. He plays Captain Saru, the first officer of the USS Discovery and the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. His character is a Kelpien species that was created specifically for the Discovery series. It is later revealed that in the Mirror Universe, Captain Saru is only a slave serving on ISS Shenzhou. With the series now airing on Paramount+, Doug Jones still portrays the character of Captain Saru.
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