Skip to Content

Hoosier makes waves in Hollywood, even if the Academy doesn’t see him

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Millions of people have seen actor Doug Jones, but few realize it.

Even fewer realize he's from Indiana.
That's because Jones, 60, mostly plays non-human characters like monsters, aliens and other creatures. His tall, wiry frame lends itself to otherworldly characters.

Jones' Hoosier roots and self-defeating Midwestern sensibility are evident when you ask him about his roles.

"When you're born looking like me, no one really wants to see this face on film. So it works out better to cover me with rubber bits apparently," Jones said, laughing, when he talked to ABC21 from a studio Fort Worth, Texas.

"What that's done is given me the opportunity to play such a wide range of characters over the years that I could never have done with this face."

Doug Jones as the Amphibian Man in The Shape of Water.

Indeed, Jones' filmography is a lengthy one. He starred as the Amphibian Man in the Academy Award winning film The Shape of Water. He also portrayed several characters in another Guillermo del Toro Oscar-winner -- Pan's Labyrinth.

"It's life changing when you're part of a film that's had so much recognition," explained Jones. "It gives you a calling card for the next film."

Jones also had roles in films including Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surver, Hellboy and Hellboy II. And he's had roles on the small screen, playing characters on Star Trek Discovery, Falling Skies, and Sons of Anarchy.

Not bad for an Indiana boy gone Hollywood.

Jones was born and raised in Indianapolis. He studied telecommunications and theater at Ball State University in Muncie before taking a chance and moving to Los Angeles.

The gamble paid off. Now, three decades into his acting career, Jones has hit a stride.

Though he's had major roles in Oscar-winning films, the accomplished actor doesn't have a golden statuette for himself.

"I've had to fight a bit of a stigma over the years. Where do you plunk me? What category do I fit in? That's been a challenge."

What isn't a challenge for Jones, is finding work. He's currently filming the third season of Star Trek Discovery, in which he plays Commander Saru, a Kelpian.

His species lives in perpetual fear and can sense impending death. Jones' precise movements and contortions lend themselves to characters like Saru, who walks with an antelope-like gait through the narrow corridors of a star ship.

"Context Is for Kings" -- Episode #103 -- Episodic coverage the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Pictured: Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

In real life, Jones has navigated his career gracefully, albeit under heavy makeup and costuming. It can takes hours in the makeup chair, which is rewarded by hours in hot, sweaty prosthesis.

That can be a challenge many actors wouldn't care to take up. But Jones embraces it. The question now is this: Will the Academy embrace him and his ilk?

"My official answer is, I don't know if there are enough actors that do what we do that could create a category," said Jones. "When I did The Shape of Water, the studio was very good about including me in ads promoting the best actor category. It was very sweet of them even though I knew there was no way the academy was going to vote for the guy in the fish suit."

Brien McElhatten

Brien McElhatten anchors the evening weekday newscasts at ABC21.

Skip to content