Guillermo del Toro blames plagiarism charges against The Shape of Water on Oscar season

Guillermo del Toro claims that neither he nor anyone involved in the making of The Shape of Water ever heard of or read Paul Zindel's 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper, after the playwright's estate sued the filmmaker for plagiarism.

Guillermo del Toro blames plagiarism charges against The Shape of Water on Oscar season

Guillermo del Toro has vehemently denied borrowing his idea for his Oscar-nominated film The Shape of Water from any other sources, after he and other parties involved in making the film were sued by the estate of Paul Zindel, claiming that The Shape of Water plagiarized the playwright's 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper.

In a statement to Deadline, the decorated filmmaker said,"I have never read nor seen the play. I’d never heard of this play before making The Shape of Water, and none of my collaborators ever mentioned the play." Del Toro had previously revealed that his associate producer Daniel Kraus gave him the idea for the play seven years ago.

Renowned attorney Marc Toberoff filed the lawsuit on behalf of Paul Zindel's estate in US District Court, claiming that the play that was allegedly plagiarized was "a beloved work of fantasy/science fiction by an esteemed author, making the glaring similarities between the Picture and the Play too egregious to ignore."

Guillermo del Toro, Getty
Guillermo del Toro at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills, California (Getty Images)

However, Del Toro revealed that Fox Searchlight, that was named in the lawsuit along with Del Toro and Kraus, has "ultimately decided that rather than succumb, they felt let’s take it to its ultimate realm, which is a court where we can defend ourselves."

Fox Searchlight also released a statement that read, "These claims from Mr. Zindel’s estate are baseless, wholly without merit and we will be filing a motion to dismiss. Furthermore, the estate’s complaint seems timed to coincide with the Academy Award voting cycle in order to pressure our studio to quickly settle. Instead, we will vigorously defend ourselves and, by extension, this groundbreaking and original film."

Del Toro agreed with the statement, saying, "I really cannot stomach the timing of this accusation. It's pretty transparent what is happening here. To me, it’s actually a relief to take something from the arena of opinion into the arena of fact and law."

He added, "“The way the play has been described... it seems to be undoubtedly about a dolphin... being freed from a lab." He continued, "The Shape of Water is... not about an animal, it’s about an elemental river god. These ideas are not interchangeable... this would be tantamount to saying that E.T. would be the same story if you substituted the alien for a hamster."

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