Godzilla is one of those iconic characters that will remain a part of cinematic history for a very long time. Directing this new iteration of Godzilla, the acclaimed King of Monsters, is Monsters director Gareth Edwards. He along with film stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Elizabeth Olson were at Comic-Con to present some footage from the film and share their thoughts with the audience.
During the film’s press conference, the four talked about what makes Godzilla resonate with today’s audiences, tone, visualizing the monster, cosplay, and thoughts on Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. Hit the jump for more.
What is it about Godzilla that resonates with today’s audiences?
Gareth Edwards: I think it’s the fact that you can’t answer that question. Like you can’t just define it in a sentence. When we first tried to figure out the film, what is it that makes Godzilla Godzilla, and 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 that, that’s it’s evolved and changed over the years. ANd I think that’s why it stands the test of time, at least with this film, that a part from having Godzilla in the movie you kind of got an infinite canvas, and it is such a rich universe. Once you accept you got giant creatures, you kind of can do anything you want. I think that’s why it stood the test of time, because it’s so right for revisiting and reinventing, it’s not just a single story, it can be any story to a certain extent.
What are some of the challenges of no revealing the monster to the audience.
Edwards: Without showing you stuff, the audience sits in a theater for two hours, you want to see Godzilla fight something else. I think I can reveal that now because we showed that. If everything is peaking, like a microphone, like everything is at 11 the whole time, it has no effect. So it’s all about contrast. So we tried to build the structure of the movie and the rhythm of the film. We tried to make it in such a way that it climaxes more and more and more, so by the end of the film it’s as powerful as it can be, and when you get all those moments which come throughout the movie, that you feel that you are ready for them. A lot of classic movies you can hark back to Jaws, Jurassic Park, Alien, they don’t actually show the creature.
How did you and the cast deal with the effects of not seeing a monster or knowing that it would be added in post?
Edwards: I think the trick is to not view them as special effects, effects, or anything, you just go “okay this really happened, there are giant monsters,” what would be the best story to tell or to think of and always involves humans, and you come up with those characters and try and create that story. I don’t seperate the two in my mind, and you just picture the movie. What was so refreshing was that we would shoot scenes that had the creature elements in, sometimes it didn’t, and we’re desperately trying to make it work, like from an emotional point of view on its own. We’re painstakingly worrying about the characters and their journey, and on top of that, there is a spectical that’s going to be embedded in the film and it makes you feel really good.
Aaron Taylor Johnson: My idea of a special effects movie is you’re going to be in a studio filming against a green screen all the time. I mean it there was a couple days of that, but a majority of the time we filmed on location, and it gave a whole other depth, and like Gareth [Edwards] said, you forget about it. Like we’d be on location with destruction everywhere, and people injured, and what not, and it came to life, it felt natural and realistic It’s very with you, on the journey, with the handheld, from our perspective, our point of view. So when you do get glimpses of Godzilla, it’s looking out your car window or a helicopter from the military, so it’s from a whole other vantage. So you as an audience feel totally involved in this and you’re on this mad roller coaster.
Elizabeth Olsen: It’s kind of weird, it’s kind of fun. It’s like you’re playing hot lava as a kid, you’re trying to go deep into your imagination like “yeah that’s a monster, yeah it’s going to kill me unless I run fast.”
Johnson: There’d be times as well I think there is a mentality to get into it, but it is a frightening prospect. Sometimes what would be really helpful, Gareth would without knowing, we’d have a scene where we are about to see something happen from one of the creatures, play something on the microphone the sound of Godzilla, or something they have been playing around with the special effects, and that was really great. You’re envisioning it through your own consciousness and hearing something through giant speakers. And sometimes he would do it without you knowing and it totally give a whole other layer.
Elizabeth Olson, can describe how your character is suited or unsuited for what happens in the film?
I feel that my character serves a purpose through hands on interaction and chaos in the city. I think that is the perspective that you get and what ends up happening after these things, and there’s no hospital. So it’s the practical. It kind of references what happens after natural disasters in a city, there’s a real truth to it as opposed a fantastical thing.
What were some of the biggest challenges in the film
Bryan Cranston: Getting Godzilla out of his trailer. He was an ass, a real ass.
Taylor-Johnson: He never came out, we’d have to CGI the whole thing.
Cranston: When he came out, he’d eat all the food at craft service, he would wreck everything, but boy when the cameras rolled, he was good at everything. That’s why they keep making Godzilla movies.
Olson what’s it like to go from indie films to something like this.
Olsen: I was expecting to wait in a fancy trailer for three hours until they were ready for lighting set up or something, but what ended up happening was the moment I ready I was on set from lunchtime until we wrapped. And the crew left really intimate, and I think Legendary [Pictures] does a really good job of creating this incubator of creativity and it keeps people that they trust. And they put them in an incubator and they put their heads together and figure out what they are going to do, what they want to get done, and they are not controlling things. It’s just as a creative process as anything.
Bryan and Aaron, what’s it like to see people dressed as your characters?
Cranston: I’ve seen a few on the floor dressed as Walter White–I mean my character. It’s flattering. It’s a lot of fun to see them.
Taylor-Johnson: I’d say the same. It’s amazing to come to Comic-Con where they’re so passionate and enthusiastic and dress up for the occasion.
Olsen: It must be crazy. Have some guy be like ‘Here’s your face on my shirt, sign it.
Cranston: There’s tattoos of Walter White on various body parts. More than I wanna know.
What sort of tone does this film have?
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.
Gareth, can you please tell me what you thought about Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim?
I think it’s great! I love Guillermo, and he was very supportive of this movie, because obviously throughout the process we did a lot of ‘What are you doing?’ ‘What are you doing?’ He had nothing but crazy support for us, but [Godzilla] is a very different movie. Ours is obviously set in modern, contemporary times. It’s very much a character-driven movie, which I think is a fair thing to say. It’s got an epic spectacle to it, yet – and I have to be careful which words I use – but it’s got somber moments as well. It’s quite haunting and quite moving. We tried to make a blockbuster that harks back to the pace and style of the early ’80s and late ’70s action movies.
Godzilla opens in theaters on May 16, 2014.