Hollywood’s most memorable monster is back when “Godzilla” hits the big screen this Friday. The first film, released in 1954 (nine years after the bombing of Hiroshima), introduced the world to Godzilla, a sea monster mutated by nuclear radiation who terrifies Japanese residents with mass destruction. The fire-breathing creature would go on to be featured in 28 more films, television series, and video games.
In this 2014 update, British director Gareth Edwards brings the thrills and chills when Godzilla makes his way to American soil to battle another mutation of nature. We caught up with Edwards to discuss the challenges of helming his first big-budget feature, criticisms from Japanese fans and if we can expect Godzilla to do do battle with a certain other iconic movie creature.
TUD: Can you recall the first time you ever watched a Godzilla movie?
Gareth Edwards: I’d never really seen one before growing up, just the cartoon from Hanna Barbera. Then we had a “Creature Feature” on television, so that’s how I watched them all. As an adult, I watched the 1954 version, and I was surprised at how serious it was, since it was really one big metaphor for Hiroshima.
This movie has quite the international cast – can you talk to us about casting Ken Watanabe and keeping the themes of Hiroshima in this updated version?
Ken was the first and only choice for us. What’s great about Ken is that from a performance point of view, he’s like the man of a thousand faces. I just really loved giving him a close-up and watching him think and react to things. We invented a backstory for his character where his family was involved in Hiroshima and I really liked that because it gave this story some weight. The military wants to use nuclear weapons to destroy Godzilla and it’s really a dilemna for Ken’s character, because of the suffering his family went through with the atomic bomb dropped on Japan.
Can you walk us through the creative process of designing the creature – when did you decide this was the ideal version for this remake?
There was no real Eureka moment, we would play with it, walk away, come back and say “The eyes aren’t right.” We kept refining it over and over again, the majority of the design done by WETA, Peter Jackson’s company. They did over a hundred different designs and it became a Rubik’s cube where you get one part right, look on the other side and fix that. I thought it was going to take a few days, but it took close to a year.
Moviefone recently ran an article claiming that Japanese moviegoers think this version of Godzilla is too fat. What are your thoughts?
I feel really bad because I know Godzilla reads the forums. He’s already got an image complex and he’s a really lonely guy. If people want to see him in a sequel, we need to learn to accept him the way he is. Don’t be too critical.
You mentioned that WETA Workshop created Godzilla’s new design. Seeing as Peter Jackson, who owns WETA, also directed the “King Kong” remake, can we we expect a King Kong vs. Godzilla showdown down the line?
You’d have to speak to Thomas Tull, the producer, he owns the rights. No comment is all I’ll say.
WATCH: “King Kong vs. Godzilla” battle it out in 1962 film
There seems to be a trend with Hollywood studios hiring indie directors – like Marc Webb for “Amazing Spider-Man” and Christopher Nolan for the Dark Knight trilogy- to helm their blockbusters. What do you think indie directors like yourself bring to bigger budget movies?
I’ve thought about this and come up with a bunch of answers. I think when you’ve only made one film, the potential of your career is that it could go anywhere. When you’ve made a whole bunch of films that haven’t done very well, moviegoers tend to lose faith. With a first time director, there’s more faith because they haven’t screwed up yet. It’s a very strange thing, but I’m very lucky on how this project turned out. I mean there’s lots of great directors out there, maybe they all got the call before me and I’m happy they either said “no” or lost their number or something.
Why should moviegoers check out “Godzilla”?
We tried to do something different, it’s not your normal popcorn movie, there’s a lot of heart and soul and suspense in this film. I want to give the audience goosebumps.
“GODZILLA” opens in theaters nationwide May 16th!
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