Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) had quite the task ahead of him when he was hired to helm not only a significantly bigger-budgeted movie than his debut but play obstetrician to “Godzilla” – reborn after a decade-plus break on the big screen. Claudia-Janet Kaller reports.
When and where did you first discover Godzilla?
It was in the UK and I might have my facts wrong because I was very young, so probably I am a little inaccurate with some of this. But on Channel Four, on a Friday night they started showing all these originals from the 1960ies and 1970ies from Toho Studios Japanese Godzilla movies. And it took me a couple of films to realize that they were dubbed. You here in Germany are probably used to this maybe, but in the UK when we get American films we are always left alone, so it was odd seeing movies with really bad lip-sync. I though that was really terrible filmmaking that they could not get the audio properly connected to the mouth. Ha Ha. So I finally realized, hey hang on, they are Japanese movies, of course they would speak in Japanese! And that was my first exposure!
Years later, when they re-released the 1954 black-and-white classic version – the 60th birthday of which is coming up – I bought a copy. In fact, I was watching it when I got the call from Legendary Pictures offering me the opportunity to make this film. It was a dream come true.
60 years on, why do people still love Godzilla?
I think this is a brilliant question. When we first sat down to talk about the movie, we asked ourselves What are we gonna do? What is Godzilla? What does it represent? Who is Godzilla? What are Godzilla movies? And we went round and round. And the fact is, and I think the reason why it survived for 60 years is because to some extent all those different movies evolved so much that Godzilla became so many different things to so many different generations. And so it has always been that icon that managed to stand the test of time. Originally it was obviously a metaphor for the events in Hiroshima and Nakasaki. It’s a very serious film the first one. Then it became a bit more camp and for kids.
For me, when we talked about the idea of making a Godzilla movie, for me he is like the ultimate physical manifestation of a force of nature. We don’t really own the Planet, it’s Godzilla’s planet. And we borrow it from him. Sometimes he gets pissed because of the way we treat it.
The cast is amazing! Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen…Sally Hawkins. I understand you didn’t even have to beg any to be in it? They simply wanted to do it?
We had a wish list of all the actors when we wrote the screenplay – one starts to picture the characters with actors in mind, happens all the time – and I knew I was going to be depressed if it didn’t work out with one of these guys, but we offered it to them and they all came back with ‘yes!’. I think the reason for that is everyone’s a closet Godzilla-fan! Nobody can resist the idea of doing a movie like this. And I think this version works so well because the idea is so strong, so primal.
Your debut “Monsters” was a low-budget effort; “Godzilla” has an immense budget. How did you deal with the pressure?
I’d love to say there was no pressure! It was fun, fun, fun all the way. But the reality is, this is such a big deal, you have to get it right! As much pressure as the studio could put on me, the budget could put on me or the fans could put on me, it was nothing compared to the pressure I have put on myself because this is my one shot. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have to get it right. So we worked very, very hard – in fact, this is my first day off from working on the movie – if you can call doing PR a day off? – for two years on it.
”Godzilla” is now showing.