Octavia Spencer Interview: ‘The Shape of Water’
“You’re protective of your true friends. That’s the people that love you and are protective of you. You reciprocate,” reveals Octavia Spencer about her role in the new film “The Shape of Water.” In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), she discusses her character of Zelda, the best friend and co-worker of the mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins) at a secretive governmental facility in 1962. Regarding her relationship with Hawkins, she adds, “Once we got to know each other, it was easy to fall into the roles… She pours her soul into the character that she plays. She doesn’t like to be front and center of anything in her personal life.”
The movie from Fox Searchlight is directed by Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and co-written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. It’s set during the Cold War in America at a top-secret laboratory and research facility that has just brought in a sea creature (Doug Jones). Zelda and Elisa are janitors for the building and get caught up in Russian espionage and trying to save the creature from being dissected. The film also stars Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Michael Shannon. Having already played at several festivals to excellent reviews, the movie will have a limited release in the United States beginning December 1.
In our chat, Spencer discusses the first time she became aware of the screenplay. She says, “My agent told me that I would be meeting with Guillermo, and it was supposed to be a 30-minute coffee at breakfast. When I met him, it turned into a three-hour odyssey. We had this conversation about everything. The last five minutes when he was paying the check, that’s when he told me about the movie. He had written this part for me, and he wasn’t going to tell me anything about it.”
Spencer won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress in “The Help” (2011). She has also been part of the winning film ensemble at the SAG Awards for that film and the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures.” Her true-life role in that NASA/astronaut-themed movie brought her a second Oscar nomination earlier this year along with additional bids at the Globes and SAG Awards.