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Elisa Esposito is the main protagonist in the 2017 science fiction romance film The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro. She is a mute janitor at a secret research facility and also falls in love with a captured amphibian creature named the Asset.

She was played by Sally Hawkins.

Her Story

Elisa Esposito is mute but can hear, having neck wounds since infancy and being raised as an orphan. She communicates using American Sign Language.

She works the night shift as a janitor at a secret government laboratory in Baltimore during the Cold War in the early 1960s and lives in an apartment above a movie theater.

Her two closest friends are her next door neighbor, Giles who is an artist and closeted gay man and Zelda, an African-American co-worker who serves as her sign language interpreter.

The facility receives a creature in a tank, called "the Asset", which has been captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland. Fascinated, Elisa snoops, discovering that the creature is an amphibian-humanoid.

She begins visiting the Asset in secret, feeding him and teaching him rudimentary sign language, and the two form a close bond.

General Frank Hoyt wants to dissect the creature for research in space travel technology. One scientist, Robert Hoffstetler, who is actually a Soviet spy, pleads to keep the creature alive for further study.

His plea is dismissed, but Elisa has overheard the entire conversation. Robert's Russian spymasters instruct him to euthanize the creature, to stop American researchers from gaining an advantage over Soviet scientists.

Elisa convinces Giles to help free the Asset, and Robert decides to help them after discovering Elisa's plot. Elisa reveals the Asset's existence to Zelda as she and the creature escape with Robert's and Giles' assistance.

Elisa submerges the Asset in her bathtub, keeping him alive using salt and water conditioning chemicals smuggled out by Robert.

The next night, Strickland interrogates Elisa and Zelda, but he turns his suspicions elsewhere due to their menial jobs. As Giles watches the creature in the bathtub, he dozes off.

The Asset then partially eats one of Giles's cats, but alarmed at being discovered, runs off after slashing Giles's arm with his claws. He takes refuge in the movie theater where Elisa finds him and they return to her apartment.

She and Giles both discover that he can become luminescent when touched. After Giles is touched by the amphibian man on his balding head as well as on his arm, he wakes up the next morning to discover that his hair has grown back and the wound on his arm is healed. Elisa and the Asset have sex for the first time.

Realizing the Asset cannot remain in her apartment, Elisa plans to release him within days into a canal on a rainy night. Elisa floods her apartment and again has sex with the Asset.

Meanwhile, Hoyt threatens Strickland's life if he does not recover the missing Asset within 36 hours. At the same time, Robert's spymasters tell him that he will be extracted two days later.

Without the water conditioning chemicals the Asset needs, his health deteriorates, forcing Elisa and Giles to act. The time of the release approaches as heavy rain arrives.

Strickland follows Robert to his meeting with his spymasters. They shoot him, but before they can finish the job, Strickland kills them and tortures Robert. Robert implicates Elisa and Zelda, and is left to die of his wounds.

Strickland forces his way into Zelda's home and threatens her while seeking more information, causing her terrified husband to reveal Elisa's connections. Searching Elisa's apartment, Strickland finds a calendar note revealing her location.

At the canal Elisa and Giles bid farewell to the Asset, but Strickland arrives, gunning down the Asset and Elisa. The Asset heals himself before killing Strickland.

As Zelda and the police arrive on the scene, the Asset pulls Elisa into the canal.

The Asset heals Elisa and transforms her neck scars into amphibian gills. An epilogue from Giles reveals that Elisa and the Asset escaped together.


  • She was based on Belle since the story is kind of similar to Beauty and the Beast.
  • She's very similar to Belle from Beauty and the Beast : both are in love with monster, both live in a small town, both stand up to the main antagonist and both end up with their true love. The only difference between her and Belle is that Elisa is mute while Belle talks.
  • She's also similar to Ann Darrow, Naomi Watts' character from the 2005 movie King Kong. They are both in love with a being who is a remaining of a classic movie monster (King Kong, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon). They both have trouble speaking to other people (Ann because she's shy, Elisa because she's mute). They are both pawns of a manipulative man they work for (Carl Denhman and Richard Strickland). Both of their romances end in tragedy (Kong dies, while Elisa is implied to die).