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A Winnipeg actor is looking back fondly on his time on the set of a Golden Globe winning film.

Marvin Kaye played the part of the “Burly Russian” in Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy drama, The Shape of Water, which received Golden Globe awards for Best Director and Best Original Score this past Sunday, Jan. 7.   

Kaye is well known for creating the television show Less Than Kind, a comedy-drama about a boy growing up in Winnipeg.

Kaye was born in Winnipeg and went to Garden City Collegiate before moving to Vancouver to study theatre. He eventually moved to Toronto to pursue his career in acting.  

He says working on a film with a director like del Toro was a completely new but fulfilling experience.

“He is so friendly and so relaxed,” Kaye said over the phone from Toronto. “The brief time I spent on set with him was so pleasurable, even when I screwed up and he got mad at me, it only lasted a second or two and then he’d pat me on the back and tell me everything was going to work out.”

“He’s just such an artist,” Kaye continued. “He’s so precise and his crew, everyone who works on movies with him, is so loyal because he’s such a good guy. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a film set.”

The Shape of Water centres on the relationship a mute cleaning lady builds with an amphibian-humanoid creature at a secret government lab during the Cold War period. In the film, both the Russians and Americans want the creature because they believe it can help them gain an advantage over their opponent.  

The movie was shot in Hamilton, Ont. and features a litany of A-list actors, including Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins.

Kaye’s character is a henchman for one of the movie’s antagonists. His appearance in the film included speaking roles, which were all in Russian.

“I had to learn Russian and take part in full on conversations that were all in Russian,” he said. “Most of my lines were simple, like ‘Are you going to finish that?’ ‘Can I have some cake?’ or ‘Do you want some milk?’”

“We had eight to 10 sessions with a Russian speaker and we just learned our lines of dialogue until we were comfortable with them.”

The movie has received widespread critical acclaim since its release in 2017 and led the Golden Globes with seven nominations.

Kaye says he hopes to work with del Toro in the future, who is known to shoot a lot of his movies in the Toronto area.

“The people he works with often work with him over and over again,” Kaye said. “I’m crossing my fingers I can be one of those people.”

Unfortunately, Kaye says he didn’t get to meet actor Doug Jones, who donned a detailed rubber suit to play the creature.

Kaye isn’t the only Winnipeg connection to The Shape of Water. Winnipeg born Sidney Wolinsky edited the film, and has worked on a number of popular television shows in the past, including House of Cards, The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire.

Kaye also played a small role in this past season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the Golden Globe for Best TV Drama Series.