When a monster comes calling: Godzilla

When a monster comes calling: Godzilla

Elizabeth Olsen who plays Elle Brody in this weekend’s release Godzilla on the experience of working on the epic action adventure flick.

By (Agencies)

Published: Tue 13 May 2014, 10:25 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:14 PM

She’s the lesser known Olsen sibling - or rather the less famous for being famous one in the family. After making her mark in a series of indie projects, including Spike Lee’s thriller Old Boy (2013), biographical drama Kill Your Darlings and Very Good Girls alonside Dakota Fanning, Olsen went on to star as Juliet in a critically acclaimed off-Broadway presentation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. In Godzilla she plays a nurse, trapped in the city when Godzilla zeroes in on San Francisco. Her husband Ford Brody (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a Naval officer specialising in disarming bombs, who has just reunited with his wife and young son in San Francisco when he is called away to help his troubled father in Japan.

Elle is forced to make tough choices to both cope with the human toll of the disaster and to protect their four-year-old son, Sam, played by newcomer Carson Bolde. “Elle’s story is heroic in that she has a job to do, but she is also desperate to protect her own child,” Olsen details, adding, “Their story and Ford’s journey to try to get back to them is part of what I love about this film—how the value of family is at its core, and how moments of crisis bring out the courage and heroism that lies within everyone.”

Excerpt from an interview:

What was the draw for you to join this project?

Ironically, when I was asked, ‘Do you want to take this meeting for Godzilla, I thought, ‘Really, Godzilla?’ Then I met with Gareth [Edward] and he showed me the teaser. I thought there was something so grounded and terrifying, and it made Godzilla something to be feared, not some silly cartoon. They had a script but they wanted it to be a project that we could all kind of chip in and create together. So it felt very nice to work with Aaron (Taylor-Johnson) and Gareth in trying to root our characters’ family in something that we could really get behind, and still tell this larger monster story.

Tell us about your character, Elle Brody, and what about her journey in the film resonated with you?

One of the biggest draws was the idea of playing a mother. She is basically a single mom and the moment she gets her husband back, he has to leave, and the disappointment of that, but also the understanding of being a good partner knowing that it’s something he needs to do in order to be a better man and to be a better father and husband. In terms of Elle’s situation, people who work at a hospital have a responsibility to all of these people, yet they also have their child. The bit that was the biggest struggle was this character trying to figure out what to do and how to balance that in such a high stakes situation.

The way we approached everything was that it wasn’t a monster—it was a national disaster; it was something terrifying. As Americans, we don’t always see this stuff, but we read about it in other countries, so we wanted to tell that story of whatever images you’ve seen or read or watched in documentaries about people going through moments of terror.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of working with Aaron Taylor-Johnson to create Ford and Elle’s relationship?

We really didn’t want it to be generic. We wanted it to be something that like we’d craft together. Aaron is a father himself, so he has an understanding of going off to do a job, and then coming home, and being with kids at certain ages, and what it’s like when you have to be apart from them. So we incorporated a lot of that understanding, and the language and the dialogue we chose was all based off us just kind of improvising in a room with Gareth.

Given that Godzilla and some key aspects of the film are being created digitally, how did Gareth communicate to you what your character would be experiencing?

Well, he had the previs [animated previsualisation] to show me and it’s pretty hilarious. But he’d just tell me, ‘This is what is coming around this corner and this is what’s coming around this corner.’ Or, ‘All of this is smoke and broken glass.’ He’d tell me practically what was going to be there. And then I, knowing whatever they’re going to put in digitally, would just interpret it to whatever I would fear, rather than what’s going to be in the movie.

You’re looking so high up at a building, and it’s just pouring rain, and you’re thinking about a path—you have to walk seven steps backward, turn, look, and then the camera’s going to pan to the right.’ You’re thinking about the camera moves, and it’s raining, and the only thing I could think about was, ‘What if there were snipers on the building or something?’ Something that was tangible—not a big monster. Because if I was imagining a big monster, I’d be like, ‘Wow!’ as opposed to being scared. [Laughs]. So, that’s how we adjusted and communicated.

Can you recall any particularly memorable sequences or moments while making this film that stuck with you?

Actually, it was when we did a bunch of improvising with Carson [Bolde], who plays our son, Sam. And it’s this whole dinner where we’re talking about his daddy coming back. It was so enjoyable to get a little boy to not understand what he’s improvising and to try and get him to talk about school, but hopefully he doesn’t bring up his real mommy and daddy and his sister. That was just such a fun experience.

Working with a kid is such an interesting challenge. It really exercises patience and it’s something that I really want to do again. It’s a technique just to work with a little boy.

Japanese fans say local-hero Godzilla too fat in Hollywood movie

Japanese fans of Godzilla say the newly-unveiled monster, set to star in the Hollywood reboot of the post-war classic, is too fat and has been “super-sized” by a country used to large portions.

The latest version of the giant beast will hit 3D screens in the United States on May 16 and in Japan two months later, in the year the huge Japanese lizard marks its 60th anniversary.

“Only the silhouette of the new Godzilla had been seen before,” said Fumihiko Abe. “When I finally saw it, I was a bit taken aback”.

“It’s fat from the neck downwards and massive at the bottom,” said the 51-year-old, who said he has seen every Godzilla movie ever made.

Abe said the 1998 Hollywood version was more “like a fast-moving dinosaur” instead of a big-footed monster.

The computer-generated creature’s rampage through New York was dismissed in Japanese cult circles as no match for the behemoth that terrorised Tokyo for decades.

However the new version was more promising, said Abe.

“I can feel the mightiness of Godzilla from this new one. I’m interested in seeing how the heaviness is expressed in the new film,” he said.

But other fans gathering online were less-than approving, with one saying the creation looked more like a seal and another dubbing it “marshmallow Godzilla”.

“It’s done a ‘super-size me’,” one person commented, a reference to the larger meals available at US fast-food restaurants.

“It’s true that you gain weight in America. It’s a calorie monster,” one said.

“It’s Godzilla Deluxe,” quipped another, a reference to a heavy-set transvestite on Japanese television.

Godzilla dates back to 1954’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the first of a series of ground-breaking monster flicks made by Tokyo’s Toho studios.

Back then he was a 90 kilogramme latex creation that left the actor inside breathless and soaked in sweat, with special effects relying on piano wires, pulleys and firecrackers.

From the moment Godzilla rose out of a roiling sea and began his swim to Japan, it was clear he was a product of the US atmospheric hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific in the 1950s.

The creature born of the nuclear age became a symbol of a pacifist Japan and the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II.

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