Federal Judge Percy Anderson has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Guillermo del Toro over his Academy Award-winning film ‘The Shape of Water.’ The suit was filed by the son of playwright Paul Zindel, claiming that del Toro’s story plagiarizes his 1969 play ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper’.
According to Deadline, Zindel’s play “describes a lonely janitorial cleaning woman who works the graveyard shift at a scientific laboratory facility that performs animal experiments for military use. There she becomes fascinated by a fantastic intelligent aquatic creature [a talking dolphin], held captive in a glass tank. When she learns of plans to kill the creature, she liberates it in a rolling laundry cart and releases it at a dock that feeds into the ocean.”
The judge not only dismissed the suit, but ruled that del Toro and Fox Searchlight were entitled to counter-sue to recover their legal fees from this case.
Del Toro stated emphatically:
“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.
“I have been at this 25 years and have an unimpeachable reputation. I have always made it an element of my career to talk about my influences in every single movie I have made, in the comment track of DVDs, on Twitter, in my museum exhibitions. I have been open about the things I love, and I have had no problem discussing them and how they were transformational in my movies. This 25 year trajectory should come in handy. I have written or co-written about 24 screenplays. I am a writer/director who has generated TV series, books, movies and an enormous amount of screenplays through the years. Without a single complaint.”
The lawsuit was filed on a very high-profile day for Hollywood– when Academy voters were preparing to fill out their final ballots for the major categories at the Oscars. The suit failed to damped ‘The Shape of Water’ though. It went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for del Toro.