Michael Shannon in Talks to Star in Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War Love Story (Exclusive)

The film is slated to co-star Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg

In the midst of a banner year, Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon is in talks to star opposite Sally Hawkins in Guillermo del Toro‘s Cold War love story that is taking shape at Fox Searchlight, TheWrap has exclusively learned.

Rumored to be titled “The Shape of Water,” the mysterious film is described as an other-worldly story set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1963.

Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg will co-star in the period picture, which del Toro is producing with Callum Greene, who worked on both “Pacific Rim” and “Crimson Peak.”

Hawkins is believed to be playing a mute woman who works at a lab where an amphibious man is being held captive. She soon falls in love with him and decides to help him escape, though her actions may have unintended consequences.

Shannon is one of Hollywood’s most interesting leading men — the type of actor who you can’t take your eyes off of when he’s onscreen. Following acclaimed turns in last year’s indie dramas “99 Homes” and “Freeheld,” Shannon turned up as a major scene-stealer in Sony’s holiday comedy “The Night Before.”

He can currently be seen in Jeff Nichols‘ “Midnight Special,” Liza Johnson‘s “Elvis & Nixon” and briefly as General Zod in Zack Snyder‘s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Shannon is poised for a big year, with key roles in Nichols’ interracial marriage drama “Loving” and Tom Ford‘s “Nocturnal Animals.” He also had a pair of films at Sundance — “Frank & Lola” with Imogen Poots and “Complete Unknown” with Rachel Weisz.

Shannon is represented by CAA, Wetzel Entertainment and Morris Yorn.