Beneath the Monster

Doug Jones is a famous creature actor who happens to be my youngest brother. I am understandably proud of what he has accomplished, but I also find myself genuinely moved by his performances. His is a gentle, empathetic soul, and this shows even beneath the prosthetics and make-up he must endure wearing in front of the camera. By subtleties of bodily motion and facial expression, he can express genuinely powerful emotions. I believe that this is why his fans are so devoted to him. Also, and in keeping with his nature, he treats them very well during personal appearances.

I grew up watching my brother develop his portrayals - first, doing walking caricatures of various family members (nobody was immune). They rang true then and continue to do so now. In high school, he participated in school plays and talent shows. I remember thinking, even then, that he had an unusual ability to emote and to make one care about what was happening on the stage, Then again, there was his infectious humor, which he was able to project effectively. In college, he took up mime, being trained by a guy who was trained by a guy who was trained by Marcel Marceau. This - combined with his 6'4" frame, thin physique, coordination, and flexibility - was of considerable help in preparing him for the roles for which he is best known. At family gatherings (and a couple of funerals) he has performed a symbolic mime routine which never fails to make the rest of us cry.

Doug first entered national prominence with his role in the Mac Tonight commercials in which he wore an oversized moon face and shark skin suit while playing a grand piano on top of a two-story Big Mac. This is amusing to our family since he based his performance on an old routine (called Saloon Music) which he used to act out in our living room (Although he couldn't really play at the time, he did a surprisingly passable and very humorous impersonation of a saloon piano player from an old western.). This campaign unfortunately came to an end when MacDonald's was sued by the estate of Bobby Darin, but his stint as Mac Tonight brought him into professional contact with people who worked in prominent creature shops. Many creature roles were to follow.

His first fairly prominent screen role came in Batman Returns, in which he played the Thin Clown alongside Danny DeVito's Penguin. A bigger role for which he is still recognized is that of Billy Butcherson (the dead ex-lover of Bette Midler's character) in Hocus Pocus. As stated elsewhere on this site, I teach biology at a small college, and I never fail to find multiple students in my classes who remember this character. Other roles for which Doug is now famous are Abe Sapien in the Hellboy franchise, the fawn and the pale man (pallido hombre) in Pan's Labyrinth, and the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I suppose it would be tedious to list all of his roles, so I encourage you to browse his web site, The Doug Jones Experience, for more information about his career, his life, and his fans. For an intimate personal portrait, also view There's Love, the documentary that has been made about him. Be sure to catch Doug playing the alien, Cochise, in the last season of Falling Skies (summer of 2015, TNT network). I have also posted a blog about Doug and Pan's Labyrinth on my other blog site, PNEUMYTHOLOGY (appearing on July 20, 2015).

In closing, I include a couple of pictures of my brother and me which were taken at a recent family vacation in Utah. As can be seen, it is difficult to maintain a sense of dignified composure when having one's picture taken with Doug.