When the world needs the King of the Monsters, the King of the Monsters needs his entourage!
This week, the cast of Godzilla: King of the Monsters came out in full force to discuss the next epic installment of Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Monster-Verse franchise with members of the press, and The Nerds of Color were there to bear witness! Present at the event were stars Millie Bobby Brown, O’Shea Jackson, Thomas Middleditch, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, Ken Watanabe, and director and co-writer Michael Dougherty. The ensemble got together, to discuss monsters, fandom, and the fun and challenges of putting together the $200 million action-monster spectacle.
“So… About last night…” Brown jokingly began to laughs within the crowd.
She was asked to speak about preparing for her character and what it was like to work with something that wasn’t there. “There was not much preparation… if you guys have seen the movie, when you watch the movie you do a lot of running. And running takes a toll. And I needed to prepare emotionally so I could run up a hill, and make sure I wouldn’t be out of breath before I got to the top of the hill. The first time around, I was like [she mimicked gasping for breath]. So you know, I kept practicing. I was training every day… so I trained physically for the role. And how was it to perform with something that wasn’t there? You just do it! You just get there, and you just do it. You imagine something’s there, and you go ‘[gasp]’! Then you film that part all over again.”
When asked about his affection for Godzilla, Jackson stated, “I love Godzilla! I’ve loved Godzilla since I was a kid. Watching it on the SyFy channel with my dad, my brother, and my uncle, playing the video games, the action figures (using them to destroy my Legos). And when I did my first film, Straight Outta Compton, I listed my five heroes that weren’t my father, and Godzilla was one of my top 5. So I’ve been waiting for this my entire life. I just happened to be lucky enough to get this audition and knock it out!”
On the topic of working with Dougherty, who has contributed as much to genre films as possible, Middleditch was asked what the experience was like. “He’s a guy with a vision. He had everything so specifically dialed in. And you knew that wherever you were going, he knew where you were going way before you ever did. And so the whole time you’re like ‘I trust whataever you’re putting together,’ because there’s a lot of pieces in there. You see how much special effects, how much pre-vis, how much planning that needed to go into it, you’re like ‘ok, this thing’s been thinking and breathing for years before we even showed up.”
Later during the interview, Chandler was asked what it was about Godzilla: King of the Monsters that made them say “yes!”
“He’s Godzilla!” Chandler joked in admiration. “The 10-year old me said ‘Yes! It’s Godzilla.'”
Given a great deal of the film is about family, he was also asked if the idea of family is something he actively looks for in the scripts he chooses. “There’s got to be heart to the story. If there’s no heart to the story, the monsters don’t mean anything. And as far as playing [in families], I understand family. I have a family. And those dynamics are really nicely played. Millie Bobby Brown’s a wonderful actress. Vera Farmiga — I got to work with! It all just worked in that way. It was wonderful.”
Both Chandler and Whitford were veterans of previous horror/monster movies, with Chandler being in JJ Abrams Super 8, and Whitford being in both Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, as well as Jordan Peele’s Get Out. When asked about what it was about monsters and horror that creates such a lasting appeal, Whitford had this to say:
“I think monster movies and horror movies are a ways for us to process stuff that are really scary to talk about. And we sort of process these things in entertaining ways. They are about fundamental existential fears. And horror movies are about [things] we can’t talk about; death, sexuality, race. They’re a very effective cultural way of dealing with questions we can’t talk about directly.”
Later on, Director Michael Dougherty was asked how it felt building upon the world Gareth Edwards started in the first Godzilla (2014). Dougherty stated:
“I loved what Gareth did in the first film. It felt like the most realistic, grounded Godzilla film that I’ve always wanted to see. As a kid I always fantasized about Godzilla showing up to destroy my school. I used to fantasize about Godzilla ripping off the roof of my church when I was sitting there bored. So I have a habit of just imagining Godzilla entering the real world, and that’s what Gareth’s film felt like… it was very grounded, but I realized there was still room to grow it from there. Gareth presented this wonderful vision of what Godzilla in the real world would feel like. What if we threw King Ghidorah into it? Or what if you threw in Rodan? What were the most grounded, realistic versions of those creatures, who are very fantastical. Once you start getting into 3-headed dragons and giant moths, you have to embrace some of the more mystical, fantastical qualities of it. It stops being pure science fiction and starts to become science fantasy. So at the same time though, again Gareth’s template was the perfect springboard for that, so I just dove right in.”
Oscar-nominee Watanabe was then asked about his role as, Dr. Serizawa, and how he got involved with this latest iteration in the franchise.
“The last movie was the first Godzilla movie in my career. It was a really good taste of Godzilla; however, after the first one, I heard about this project from my agent.” Watanabe described that he was initially skeptical about doing a second one at first, then continued saying “But after I read the script, it was so great! And because it changed the story from me being a scientist to part of the [Monarch] corps, then touched on civilization and humankind and how it could coexist with nature. This Godzilla story had a deeper theme and underlying message. Each Godzilla movie has a different kind of theme… Cold War, after World War II, the atomic bomb, nuclear power… and I’m thinking about this Godzilla as a natural disaster in the world. And how we cannot control a natural disaster — it’s the same thing as we cannot control the titans. Then I heard about the great vision from Michael, and I joined.”
As the conference wrapped up, the smiling faces of the audience indicated their level of satisfaction about the opportunity to speak with Godzilla’s pet humans! Through the cast and director’s lively discussions, we learned about the fact that these movies are more than just giant kaiju movies. The human component does indeed matter, as Godzilla has always been a metaphor for escapism, satirical commentary, and humanity’s relationship with nature and with one another. Should you want proof of that, all you need to do is glance at the statements above.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters roars in theaters everywhere May 31, 2019!