With Godzilla now out in cinemas across the UK, we at God Is A Geek were lucky enough to attend a press conference with the film’s cast. While it has its problems we enjoyed Godzilla, awarding it a respectable 7/10.
If you fancy a spoiler free look into the creative process behind Warner Brother’s highly anticipated monster movie check out the highlights below from producer Thomas Tull, actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen and of course – director Gareth Edwards.
[To Thomas] I heard you say that you’ve been waiting your entire life for this Godzilla film. Why was now the right time for you?
Thomas: Well, now is the right time because we had the rights! But, no, I’ve been a Godzilla fan since I was a little kid. We wanted to bring kind of a fresh perspective to that and we were very fortunate to come across Gareth Edwards. If somebody would have said to me a long time ago – “Not only will you get to make a Godzilla movie, but you’ll have this fantastic young director, and you’ll have a cast that could easily be doing Shakespeare here in London”- I would be really excited about that!
What specifically was it about Gareth [that made you want to work with him]?
Thomas: I saw his movie Monsters and I was astounded at what he did. There was no money, but you could tell there was a real talent behind the camera. So I asked to meet him, he came in, and we spent some time together and I was very impressed. We gave him some resources to make a pre-viz and some other things and many of the shots that you see in the movie are directly from the pre-vis. He was the only director we ever talked to about it.
[To Gareth] You once expressed a frustration with working with huge crews so how did you overcome that with this one?
Gareth: I know exactly what you’re on about and thanks for pointing that out! It was when I was working in TV and I think the problem with TV is it’s trying to be a Hollywood movie or a Hollywood quality of film making but it hasn’t got the resources. So when you get to do it for real and you literally have millions of dollars and the best crew in the world it is insane. The thing that I was most surprised about was you do a small film, there’s five of you and then do this massive movie where there’s 300 and you think there’s going to be this massive difference.
But then you’re driving on to set – and as a director you’re in a bubble – and they drive you straight to the camera and you don’t meet anybody, and all you speak to all day long is the assistant director, the camera-man and the actors .. you literally just know five people. The most embarrassing thing is at wrap parties because I don’t know anybody. You smile at people every day and you go, “What does he do?” and you’re like, “I don’t know. Stands near a light? Holds a microphone?” You’re just protected.. so I could kind of convince myself that I was making this intimate movie with just a handful of people that just happened to have 300 spectators around the sides.
[To Bryan] Since Breaking Bad your celebrity status has reached new levels. How has your life and career changed since its enormous success?
Bryan: I was dubbed the new darling of Hollywood… [Laughter] An actor really is only hoping for opportunity and we’ve been very fortunate to have that come to us and if that’s what stardom means then I accept that. That’s what it means to me. That I can work on a greater level of material and to be able to have more say in what we do. When you first start out as an actor if your agent calls and says, ‘They like you to do…’ you say, ‘Yes!’ before they’re finished with what project it was. Because you need the job. That’s why when you first start out you have a lot of product that you’ve done that you’re not particularly proud about but everything was a stepping stone to get to an opportunity where you’re can have more control of your own destiny. For a Breaking Bad or a Kick-Ass you don’t really know how it’s going to be received. You do a project in a bubble and you like the work, you like the people you’re working with and you hope for the best. Breaking Bad became this larger than life mushroom cloud that none of us could’ve anticipated and we’re very grateful for it but it’s certainly not something that we were working towards that becoming. It’s the public, it’s the fans that create a classic film or television show. It’s up to them to decide if it weathers the test of time and so too will be this version of our film. In time people will look back and say, “Godzilla of 2014 was fantastic, except a couple of direction…” [Laughs]
[To Bryan] you said that the script kind of blew your mind. What was it about the script in particular that captured your imagination?
Bryan: I think at first I was thinking that this was going to be just a monster movie, and it really isn’t. The thing that iced it for me – and made me want to be a part of it – was that it has a very strong, character driven narrative to it. A husband, a wife, a father, a son, a multi-generation… And I thought that was very clever. I’ve always thought, ‘Why not? Why can’t you meld those?’ Because you have the great, epic, iconic battles with monsters, in a monster movie, and then you also have this group of people that you follow and care about and root for – and you can have it all. It dove-tailed very nicely into this movie.
[To Gareth and Elizabeth] I wonder if there’s a tradition with films like this, that the female characters always have to be supporting characters? Is that a commercial decision, because it’s mostly men that go to these films?
Elizabeth: Well, in our story, Ford needs a counterpart. I think his journey, correct me if I’m wrong, has to do with figuring out things with his father while trying to become a better father himself. If you need one character to follow through the beginning, middle and end of the film, it makes sense for it to be a lieutenant – someone who can navigate the US military. I feel like I did get to serve some sort of function by also being on the ground as a nurse. Instead of just… I don’t know, I worked with a little boy – maybe if it was a little girl it would have been different. I didn’t feel that, for my character at least.
Gareth: I mean, this is probably a good time to point out that Godzilla’s actually a female. So… [laughter] At the last minute we changed it from “Godzilla: Queen of the Monsters” – that didn’t sound too good…But I know what you’re saying. We had a version of the screenplay with a heroine at the centre of it at one point. You have to pick a hero, and we ended up with a male, and then everything supports the hero in some way. But I understand what you’re saying. My favourite films are Alien and Aliens and… who knows – if we get lucky, and there’s a sequel, then I’ll very much take on board what you said.
The film’s about Godzilla but is also a very human story. Bryan and Aaron could you talk about working on this compelling father and son story?
Bryan: I am a father so it’s easy, and he’s a father too so it’s easy for that relationship to take place. When you sign on to do a piece like this you really are looking at the material, you talk to the director, you agree to it and then you hope that when you get on the set you’ll make a connection. It’s not imperative that you do but the fact that we get along and like each other just made it easier to meld into that relationship.
Aaron: Although we have this kind of feud and I’m supposed to be angry with him all the time – and he’d be cracking jokes a lot!
Bryan: He acted like my son. I would say something and he would roll his eyes… [laughter]. The general disrespect for the elderly!
[To Gareth] We heard from Thomas that even before you’d signed on to do the film, that you had a really clear idea in your head about what you wanted to do and achieve [with the film]
Gareth: I think that’s one of the reasons Godzilla’s stood the test of time. There’s so many different ways that we could have gone with this film… There’s kind of an infinite canvas. It took us a year and a half of playing around to land on the story that we wanted to tell. I think, for me, I grew up with those 70’s and 80’s movies, those early Spielberg type things, and it was before the era of digital technology, and because they couldn’t always show the creature constantly, the first half of the movie would there would be these little glimpses. Your sense of anticipation, with films like Alien, gives you so many chills and goose bumps. I felt like in modern cinema its so easy to throw everything at the screen constantly and we’ve missed that style of storytelling. So, from day one, our constant references were things like Jaws and Close Encounters. [we were] sort of harking back to that era of film making – even though we had these amazing tools to do Godzilla justice for the first time.
[To Gareth] How long did it take you to design Godzilla – and would you change anything about him?
Gareth: The great thing about Godzilla is that if you had a load of images of silhouettes of characters in cinema history and you went around the world and you showed people them, and as soon as someone didn’t recognise them you threw those images away, I feel like the grand final would be between Mickey Mouse and Godzilla. I think what makes him iconic is he has a very strong silhouette, and so when we designed him we literally put settings on the computer so it didn’t have any texture, he was just pitch black against pure white and we just kept rotating him and just pushing and pulling and trying to get the silhouette looking just right. It was like a Rubiks Cube. You get one side good and then you’d turn it and you’ve ruined the other side – but this time you couldn’t cheat and peel the stickers off. It took nearly a year to get it to a place where we could rotate it 360° and go, “I don’t wanna change anything”. I don’t think you’re a filmmaker if you don’t always think, “I could’ve done this or that”, but one thing I do feel is I don’t really want to change anything, I am very happy with how we got him.