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Nuke the Fridge Exclusive: SDCC 2013 GODZILLA Press Conference

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During the GODZILLA press conference, director Gareth Edwards, along with actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen had a good time answering questions thrown at them by the press.  Yes, Nuke the Fridge’s own Namtar was there. It was a fun and an enjoyable event with Bryan Cranston cracking everyone up with his hilarious takes on filming the movie with the giant green guy.  This is a must read for any fan. Many answers actually reveal some details concerning the Godzilla film, but one must cull them out. Points of interest that were brought up concern the film’s story structure, other creatures appearing in the film, challenges for the director, and a career move if a sequel were to be made. Also, if there is a sequel, what would Gareth Edwards like to direct? Find out here and have fun!

Preparing for the Godzilla panel!
Preparing for the Godzilla panel!

Q:  After all these years, what do you think it is about the Godzilla creature that still resonates that people can’t get enough?

Edwards:  I think it’s the fact that you can’t answer that question.  You can’t just define it, in a sentence.  When we first tried to figure out the film, we thought, “What is it that makes Godzilla, Godzilla?”  You go through all these different things, and you actually find, after lots and lots of conversation, that it’s undefinable, to an extent.  There have been so many movies about days of old and change, over the years, and I think that’s why it’s stood the test of time.  When we were doing this film, we found that, apart from having Godzilla in the movie, you’ve got into the canvas and it’s such a rich universe.  Once you accept the fact that there’s giant creatures, you can kind of do then anything you want.  I think that’s why it’s stood the test of time.  It’s so ripe for reinventing and revisiting.  It’s not a single story.  It can be any story you want.

Q: Gareth, so much of the charm of your first film (“Monsters”) was the idea of concealing the creatures in that movie.  How much did that benefit you when you were working on this, which is so much about the spectacle of revealing that creature? How much did that help you? And, how much did that challenge you to go the other way?

Edwards:  With these films, you’re going to sit in the cinema for two hours, and you want to see Godzilla and you want to see him maybe fight something else, and we can reveal that now cause we showed it this morning.  If you just do it straight away, up front, and I think everyone and everything is peaking. Like when everything is up to 11, the whole time, it might as well be at zero because it has no effect.  It’s all about contrast.  We tried to build the structure and rhythm of the movie in such a way that the climax is more and more and more and more.  By the end of the film, hopefully it’s as powerful as it can be, when you get all of those moments, which come throughout the movie, that you really feel you’re ready for that. There’s a lot of classic movies that hark back to like “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park” and “Alien.” They never actually show the creature.

Cranston: I’ve got to see those. I hear they’re good.

Q: You mentioned the fact that you see Godzilla fighting at least one other creature that we saw this morning and there are hints that there are several creatures in the movie. Whether that’s true or not, the creatures or creature that are in the movie aside from Godzilla are they original designs? Are we paying homage to other Toho creatures from that long range of Toho films?

Edwards:  I cannot answer that question.

Q: Will we see that monster that Bryan was going to reveal this morning at the press conference?

Cranston:  Oh yeah! The only Godzilla movie with an X-rating.

Edwards: Which is affectionately known as Godzuki.

Cranston: Godzuki. (laughs)

Edwards: That’s just a British thing right? I kept saying that to the crew, Godzuki… It’s the small Godzilla.

Q: Do you have a vivid memory of the first time you discovered Godzilla, and was your reaction a genuine scare from the monster factor or was it the camp appeal of it. How did you discover Godzilla?

Cranston:  My discovery of Godzilla was back in the ‘50s, when the Raymond Burr movie in ’56 came out, I think, came out.  The year I was born. Watching that on TV, as a kid, it was astonishing, even for its time.  It was amazing to see those special effects that were state-of-the-art, at the time.  I just loved it!  For a boy to watch that, it was great destruction and wonderful use of miniatures.  But, our tastes have become more sophisticated since then, and certainly now.  That’s what’s so great about this version.  There was careful concern to develop the plotlines and intricacies, and the character development.  Without that, without us, as actors and performers, getting into our roles, the audience wouldn’t be invested either.  What makes it more interesting for me is that I believe audiences will truly be invested in these characters, and riding with them through the tensions and fears and anxieties that the characters are going through.  You’ll feel it more, and (it will) ultimately be a better experience for you.

Q: How do you approach the effects for Godzilla?

Edwards:  I think the trick is not to view them as effects.  You just go, “Okay, this really happened.  There really are giant monsters.  What would be the most story that we can think of to tell?”  It always involves humans, so you come up with those characters and you try to create that story.  I don’t separate the two, in my mind.  You just picture the movie.  What was so refreshing was that we would shoot scenes that sometimes had the creature elements in and sometimes didn’t.  We desperately tried to make it work from an emotional point of view, on its own, and then you have the advantage of this creature.  And then, you start reviewing stuff with the visual effects companies, as they start putting the special effects in, and you’re like, “Oh, my god, I completely forgot that there’s this whole other layer going on this.”  We painstakingly worried about characters and their journey, and then suddenly you think, on top of that, there is this spectacle that’s going to be embedded in the whole film and it makes you feel really good.  We really want to get it right, with the whole character side of things.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges on the set with this ?

Cranston:  Getting Godzilla to come out of his trailer.  He was an ass.  He was a real a$$hole.  He really was.

Emmy award winning actor Bryan Cranston shaking hands with the press.
Emmy award winning actor Bryan Cranston shaking hands with the press.

Edwards:  He never came out.  We’re going to have to CGI the whole thing.

Cranston:  And when he came out, he would eat all the food at craft service and he would wreck everything.  But when the cameras rolled, boy was he good.  That’s why they keep making Godzilla movies.  He’s really good.

Nuke the Fridge (Namtar:) Gareth, I know Godzilla’s going to be a hit, but are you scheduled to direct a sequel, when that happens?

Edwards:  Thanks Rich. That’s my agent. I’m glad you brought that up. I had a blast, and it’s not over yet.  What’s so fantastic about Godzilla is that we’ve created a playground that I would love to play in again.  If I was lucky enough to be invited back to the party, I would jump at it. I think It’s such an honor to do one of these movies with this character, and to work with these guys.  I would definitely be interested in doing another film if it was successful. 

Q: What was it like to prepare (have preparation time) and spend so much money?

Edwards:  On day one, you drive to the set and you’re like, “Oh, no!  We’ve picked a really bad time to go to the location.  There’s some kind of convention going on.”  There are 400 cars and all these trucks and you’re like, “Oh, no!  Did no one check this?”  And then, they’re like, “Gareth, it’s your crew.  There are 400 of them.”  And there really were 400.  And you go, “Okay.  All right.”  What was so amazing, and I’m not proud of this, but we wrapped and, if you tested me to name my crew and tell you what they did, I would fail miserably. You never actually deal with these people.  You’re kept in this little bubble. You arrive and get dropped off by the car, and you’re next to the cameraman, and you’re next to the DOP (director of photography) and the actors, and then, at the end of the day, you get picked up and driven off again…  You’re kind of just protected or whatever the word would be, so it felt, to me, like a small, intimate movie.  I was only ever talking to about six people, throughout the whole experience.  You see trees move and lights move, and things that are requested just arrive.  It can get quite addictive in a way.  It’s quite a power trip. I never spoke to these guys. I always go through the AD (assistant director.) “Could you ask Mr. Cranston, if he wouldn’t mind moving to the left a bit?”

Cranston: I didn’t know you were British.  This is the first time I’ve heard this accent.

Q: Is the world aware of Godzilla, prior to him fighting other monsters, is everything new? Are monsters fighting on our side? Or, does he fight for or against us?

Edwards:  It’s an origin story, so that probably says it.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s definitely what you would consider an origin story. 

Q: Gareth, looking at the design of the monster and things that are done with “Monsters” and other movies, a lot of people have strong feelings against the previous ones, what were things you knew that you wanted to get it right that you wanted to do for your vision of Godzilla the most?

Edwards:  Imagine that, in 1954 when the first Godzilla movie was made, this creature really existed and someone saw him, tried to draw him and tried to make a suit, and they did a very good job with it, but when you then saw the real creature, you’d go, “Okay, I totally understand how you got that suit from that creature, but now I see the real thing.  I totally believe it.  It’s completely real.”  That was the brief we gave for all of the designs.  We did hundreds of designs, and never stopped playing with it, until the last minute.  It got to a point where it was like, “Is there anything else you want to change about this design.”  Personally, I was really happy with it. And, Toho was very much a part of the approval process. So, it feels like a Toho approved design as well.

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Q: The original Gojira was a melancholy tragedy in comparison to a more adventurous disaster movie that it eventually transformed into. I guess, how much of this film is going to touch on the nuclear panic or underlying issues of the original movie? How much of this movie will be a glorified disaster/infantry like we would think of now?

Edwards: (to Bryan Cranston) Is it melancholy, would you say?

Cranston:  I think it’s cautionary, actually.  You look at the tale and you see the scope of it, and it’s relevant to today’s times.  It’s about harnessing power, dispersing of waste and messing around with Mother Nature.  Can you actually do that and get away with that?  How long can you get away with that?  Living in that milieu is this creature that emerges from the muck and mire.  It’s very exciting. You kinda have to watch what you say. Does that answer your question?

Q: Toho has had a lot of different monsters that we’ve encountered in the past. Going back to a possible sequel, what other monsters would you like to see, Mothra, Rodan or something?

Edwards: With the exception of the 1954 original, I’d say my second favorite one is “Destroy All Monsters.” Cause I just love the idea of Monster Island and having a world with these creatures in it. I find that fascinating, and I’d like to treat that realistically. I wouldn’t want to live in it… And multiple creatures make better movies in the original era of Godzilla movies.

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Here is a brief storyline for the film.

A giant radioactive monster called Godzilla awakens from eons of sleep and attacks a city.

The action/sci-fi/thriller “Godzilla” is scheduled for a May 16, 2014 release.  The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass,”) Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Richard T. Jones, Brian Markinson, Patrick Sabongui, and Akira Takarada. Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont, and Drew Pearce wrote the screenplay based on the story by Dave Callaham and David S. Goyer. Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) directs.

Source: Nuke the Fridge (exclusive)