Acting Raves

Doug Jones aka a Tall Drink of Water: Horror Edition

As mentioned the other week, Star Trek: Discovery has begun its final season. One of the highlights of the series for me has been the character of Saru, played by Doug Jones.

There are a lot of actors whose mere presence bodes well for a production, but Doug Jones is one who historically has done so with his physical presence. In fact, one one level, he’s harder to spot than Gary Oldman, because while Gary Oldman will disappear into a role he does not, for the most part, do so with prosthetic makeup. Doug Jones does. Gloriously so. In fact, his first big break on TV screens was pure nightmare fuel.

100% unadulterated terror… with cheese.

Luckily his subsequent performances have been for far less disturbing characters, like the lead Gentleman in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth. However, with Saru, he has been able to bring his wonderful physicality to a Trek archetype: the non-Human character who comments on humanity from a distance. Beside his physicality, Jones imbues Saru with a wisdom and gentleness matched with strength and resolve in a vital and engaging manner.

To get a better idea of the performer, you can check out this Buzzfeed profile from November 2017 by Adam B. Vary. The premiere of Star Trek: Discovery and soon-to-be Oscar-winning The Shape of Water are a focus, but the article also goes through Jones’ career. Liz Shannon has a piece for IndieWire from 2018 that goes into the work necessary to deal with all the prosthetics of Discovery — and more recently, Doug Jones reflected on the character of Saru in an interview with Anthony Pascale for from February of this year.

Of course, since I’ve been talking about his physicality, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a video interview, which you can check out below in the form of the first episode’s of this season’s “Ready Room.” It’s worth it just to see Doug Jones give host Wil Wheaton a primer in how to walk like a Kelpien.

Runs just over 15 minutes.

The character will be missed.

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