A different ‘Godzilla’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


We wanted great, truly great and grounded actors. We wanted actors who would feel real and not make the audience go, ‘Oh, that’s movie star so-and-so in a Godzilla movie,’” said “Godzilla” producer Thomas Tull.


The 2014 reboot of the Japanese monster film franchise stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass,” “Savages,” “Anna Karenina”) as Ford Brody, the son of nuclear engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and a Naval officer who specializes in disarming bombs; Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Old Boy,” “Silent House”) plays Ford’s wife Elle who is a nurse.


“Elizabeth has such a human… you feel for her and you connect with her. We were so blown away. For Aaron, I was astounded by how he went from his role in ‘Kick Ass’ to ‘Anna Karenina,’ to playing John Lennon. He disappears into his roles,” Tull pointed out.



The two leads are caught in chaos and catastrophe, and are forced to make difficult choices throughout the film.


But on the morning we met them at a hotel in New York’s Upper West Side, they looked nothing like their tortured characters. With Elizabeth’s bright red nails and a long-sleeved satin top that created the illusion of a cape, and Aaron’s dark jacket, boots and full facial hair, they looked more like the slick superheroes they are set to play in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which will hit theaters next year.


Aaron said: “It’s funny that Lizzie’s my sister in ‘The Avengers.’ She’s a great actor. I can’t think of anyone better to be working with. She’s cool. I think she’s talented.”


Elizabeth noted: “It’s fun for Aaron and I to hash out our character’s backgrounds. We’re on the same page because it’s a shared history. I enjoy that.”



For “Godzilla,” they also made sure they knew their characters’ backgrounds well. “We have a history that exists before we’re even onscreen and you can have the presence of that history when we’re onscreen,” said Elizabeth.


In this roundtable with Super, they talked about working together and with director Gareth Edwards, their future as superheroes, and why they think “Godzilla” isn’t just a monster movie.


Elizabeth Olsen


IT TOOK months before they perfected the design of Godzilla. PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PHILIPPINES

Why did you want to make this movie?


I’ve never really experienced a “Godzilla” film before, it’s not something that I grew up with. There was no Godzilla in my house. My first experience was meeting Gareth and he showed me a teaser that they played for Comic Con the year before. It made me think, if this is a piece of the story that you want to tell and this is how you want to tell it, then I’m all in. He discussed what “Godzilla” represented in the original film and how it’s changed and transformed, and how they want to tell this story, how it’s going to reflect what we’ve been noticing so much in the past five years on the planet Earth, its relationship to nature, controlling nature and ignoring it as well, feeding the monster, essentially. I also wanted to work with Legendary Pictures and the cast it’s pulling together. It seemed like a good idea.


What was the most surprising thing for you about this iconic monster?


ELIZABETH and Aaron share a tender moment as Elle and Ford Brody. PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PHILIPPINES

I had no idea that Godzilla was anything other than just a monster. I didn’t realize that it represented something. It’s a metaphor. That was the most surprising to me.


What’s it like being one of the more emotional characters in the middle of the catastrophe in the film?


I think you’re trying to create a relationship and a family that is an emotional rooting of this film. You always want to connect to someone. You can watch the news and hear stories about riots in Ukraine, but if we were to hear a story about one woman’s family’s experience, that’s far more heartbreaking and compelling and scarier than statistics.


What was it like working with Aaron?



It’s good, it’s really fun. He’s very diligent at trying to make sure that we have everything about our past, about our family all worked out. It was all very collaborative with Gareth. We met for a week before we started shooting. We worked through scenes, and if a dialogue didn’t make sense, or we didn’t think something felt right or real, we just changed it. Everyone was really honoring that process.


Does having this familiarity with Aaron make it easier to play siblings in your next film, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”?


Totally. It’s awesome. It’s better for us to have met before. If it was the other way around, it would be different. Now that we know each other, it’s a lot more fun to play twins.


How do you like the CGI-loaded filmmaking process?


SCHOOL kids come face-to-face with Godzilla. PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PHILIPPINES

I really wanted that experience. I was like a child on the playground and yet you can’t touch the floor because it’s lava or there’s a shark. I love make-believe. It’s not just make-believe, it’s very technical. I’ve never worked with a green screen, I got to do very little CGI work in comparison to everyone else, but it was a great stepping stone to doing something like “The Avengers” which is so technical. It’s really a muscle that some people have just perfected and know how to do. I can watch Robert Downey Jr. fight anything make-believe because he’s awesome. It’s something that I get to learn from. It’s a new skill to try and discover.


What’s it like having fans react to every little thing including your costume?


I think it’s hilarious. I’m excited to see how people respond to “Godzilla” because I love it. I think it’s really cool and something new. With something like “The Avengers,” it’s funny to see how obsessive people get. And it’s really cool to create a character that has never been played before except in a cartoon. I actually care about doing things for fans because it’s decades before me. I do care and respect it.



Is there anything you are obsessive with?


If someone were to tell me they were going to do a remake of “Gone With The Wind,” that would be a sin in my book (laughs).


No obsession for anything when you were younger?


I was the kid who saw that my friends had an obsession with Harry Potter, with American Girl dolls, or had that one doll they fell asleep with at night. I always wanted that and I faked it but I never made it. But I loved Michelle Pfeiffer. I was 10 and I ripped out pictures of Michelle Pfeiffer from magazines and I put them in picture frames. I think she’s born in April and in my calendar there was a photo of her. I really tried hard to have an obsession but I never really had one except for musical theater and playing in my backyard.


Would it be strange for you if, after “The Avengers” comes out, people would have you on their calendars?


I have friends who have young children who are boys and they’ve made comments like, “You know, Scarlet Witch, the second female Avenger, there are going to be boys loving her.” And that’s a little odd. But then I also think it will make me cooler. I’m really excited to be cooler in their eyes.


Are you prepared for Comic Con?


I think that’s going to be so much different than being there for “Godzilla.” This movie had the most magical reaction. That’s only with genuine anticipation for the film. People love the trailers that we showed and there’s a crazy reaction and that was so cool—people pumping their fists and standing and screaming. You mix that with all the cast of “The Avengers” and you don’t know what you’re going to get. That’s going to be nutty.


What was your reaction after seeing the movie?


I loved it. I was with my best friend and we looked at each other and said, “It’s a good one!”


How difficult was it to shoot the scene with your son and your coworker?


That was my favorite scene to shoot, actually… Playing mother for the first time was one of the reasons I wanted to do it. Working with a four-year-old is very fascinating and difficult and fun. You never know what you’re going to get.


Are you going back to independent films after this?


Yeah. I’m always searching, always trying to get the next job and sometimes you don’t and you just move on to the next one. You’re always potentially trying to get something going. A lot of times things don’t get made because of money and that’s annoying.


How do you deal with rejection?


I just recently had to deal with that and it was really hard because I had already imagined everything. If you ask me maybe a year ago, I’d be like, oh whatever, that’s how the job is. If I’m rejected from something, that’s fine, that happens all the time. But if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for a year, that’s when it’s painful. But it’s so out of your control, you always have to remember that there are things that are in your control and things that are not… You can only focus on the things in your control.


Were your sisters surprised that you are in action movies now?


I don’t know. I’ve not asked them yet. Probably not, considering my childhood of films and backyard hooligans.


Did you ever play superhero games?


No. We did “3 Ninjas”; I’m Tum Tum.


Did you have a super power?


Tum Tum? No. He eats licorice and tries to do karate. I don’t know if you’ve watched those films but they’re really good.


You studied in Moscow? Why?


I went to college at NYU (New York University) and wanted to go abroad; the reason I fell in love with theater and decided that it was what I wanted to do was because I had a teacher who introduced me to Russian theater and its history. It was fascinating and beautiful. There was an opportunity to go with another school and I seized it. That was five years ago; it was a different world then.


Aaron Taylor-Johnson


Does having to fight enormous monsters require a lot of imagination?


It does require a little bit of imagination. But you know, with artwork, there’s pre-vis, so much to be informed by that there’s not much left to the imagination. You can visualize it. A lot of it was more interaction with people. It wasn’t a whole movie with like a pet animation thing—that would be a bit of a nightmare.


Gareth was a fan and Elizabeth had never seen “Godzilla” before. What was your relationship with the monster?


I didn’t see anything other than the original 1954 version only because Gareth said he was going to embrace that as the original story. They’re brand-new characters. For my character, I didn’t need to see any more Godzillas than that.


Were you familiar with “Godzilla” before this movie?


I knew of “Godzilla.” I never really knew the significance, of what it originally meant which was really moving, a metaphor. I think that’s what Gareth wanted to embrace. Godzilla represents nature and the MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial organism) represents our abuse of nature and what man created through nuclear power and radiation and how we pollute the planet.


How did you react when you were first offered the role?


I said, “Okay, cool. Who else is there?” It wasn’t really what I was thinking of doing next. But I sat down with Gareth. There was no script yet. I was supposed to be there for half an hour and it turned into six and I just walked out and said, “I’ll do this movie.” Legendary is a great studio of creative and smart people. Whereas a studio could have gone, “Why? What’s wrong with this script, this is great. Let’s just make another monster movie.” Never at one moment did it (Legendary) want to make another remake; they had a motivation, an understanding. They wanted an emotional journey, they had aspirations. It was quite a structure.


Are you the type of actor who likes watching himself onscreen?


Once or twice is definitely enough for me. Sometimes I don’t go and see it but it’s rare. Sometimes I just had a bad experience on the film and know I won’t work with those people again and I have no interest in seeing it and promoting it. Life’s too short in that aspect.


I’m proud of the movie. I think it’s a great thriller and action monster movie with heart and soul. Bryan (Cranston) and Juliette (Binoche) in the first 15 minutes get me welling up, I’m already lost in it, I’m already intrigued. They’re just brilliant, you know. Everyone’s gonna get drawn in because it’s Godzilla and then they’re gonna walk out feeling a lot of things.


What’s it like working with Bryan?


Brilliant. He’s very cool. He’s a phenomenal actor. It’s hard because I’m always supposed to be pissed off at him but you can’t be pissed off at Bryan. He’s so humble and modest and so funny. He’s a comedian, really. I just saw him onstage—brilliant, just mind-blowing.


How important is it for you to click with the director?


Ninety-nine percent of a movie, I believe, is the communication that you have with your director.


Is it more important than the script? And the money?


Money has never really come into it. It never really has. If you go by the money, if you pick jobs that way, you’re just gonna be out the f***ing door. It’s not why I’m interested. I started at such a young age that I genuinely have a passion for acting. People say script, script, script. I used to follow good scripts … but it’s all about the filmmaker in my opinion and what I can do as an actor for that character. I read a couple of things recently with great directors, but I just can’t find a way in or I can’t see myself playing that [role]. If it don’t feel right, it don’t feel right. I’d be telling myself, why are you turning this down, you’ve been wanting to work with this guy. But my instincts… I don’t just do things for the sake of it because if I do that, [I make] big, f***ing mistakes.


Did you join “The Avengers” also because of the director?


Yeah. I think Joss (Whedon) had one of the toughest jobs—to have more than one superhero in a movie and give them all moments and also make it work. It was a Rubik’s Cube, you know. When I watched it, I was entertained and impressed. We sat down with Joss just before “Godzilla.” It took over a year before any contracts, just back and forth, talking and talking, and him telling me about the character. Again it was me going, why would you add another superhero to “Avengers”? I said if you are, I have to ask to be really unique. He has to be different. He has to be someone worth doing.


Godzilla is now playing in cinemas nationwide.





Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.