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On the Set Interview: Bryan Cranston vs. Godzilla

bryan-cranston-1Some actors really know how to say "thank you" to their crew. I've seen all signs of appreciation in my time visiting various productions. Some actors offer gifts to key crew members. Milla Jovovich, the last we checked in on a Resident Evil film, brought in a taco truck every week or so.

Bryan Cranston catered to his Godzilla team's sweet tooth with an ice cream truck. And not just any ice cream truck. This ice cream truck features flavors nicknamed after Godzilla. What a guy…

It's by this ice cream truck that this writer, sipping on a shake, continues the Godzilla set tour (which began here) and joins Cranston, eating a treat himself, to discuss the film.


Question: Even though your character is a scientist, do you get to see any action scenes at all?

Bryan Cranston: Oh, I see some action. Some "hot scientist" action!  Some "scientist on scientist" action. You can’t miss it!  Sometimes there’s some "three-way" scientist action.  Oh yeah.

Question: Do you get close to Godzilla at some point in the film, or is it always from a distance?

Cranston: He’s in his trailer.  That guy, such an asshole.  I have to tell you, when he gets on the set he delivers, though, so I see why he keeps coming back to make movie after movie, because he’s good.  He’s just a prick.

Question: In terms of the story, are we cutting back and forth in time to a larger military presence between two different stories?

Cranston: It’s more linear.  It goes up to, when [Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s] character of ‘Ford’ as a boy, when this eruption starts to happen, and the scientific discovery, and then there’s a big situation that happens that catapults us to the next jump in time, and that’s when we pick up the story in 2014, and that’s when he’s a grown man with his own family.

Question: In the original 1954 film, the scientist character almost has sympathetic feelings towards Godzilla.  Does your character have any feelings about what to do about him?

Cranston: Curiosity is insatiable.  The militarist point of view is, “Kill it! I don’t understand it!’  But we have a different point of view which is fascinating, that is fascinating to us.

godzilla2014-gareth-edwards-bryan-cranston-on-setQuestion: Here Gareth Edwards obviously has a lot riding on his shoulders technically, but how is he with actors?

Cranston: He’s remarkably calm.  I always look for someone who has a clear vision, and yet is malleable, so that the vision isn’t set in stone, rigid, ‘my way or the highway’ kind of thing, which you do run up against sometimes.  I think it would be shooting yourself in the foot, because the triumvirate of writer, actor and director is what you want.  You want everybody working at that level, so by having a director who welcomes dialogue, in this case from the actor to director, ideas, input and that sort of thing, and embraces it, then it just spawns more of that.  It gives actors a sense that they are valued.  Not just that, ‘You know, you can do this and step here,’ but that your opinions are valued coming in.  So, before I even signed on, I had two very lengthy conversations over the phone when I was still shooting Breaking Bad.  At first I was a little reticent, just because of the overall nature of it, and I think I was also feeling a little bit of, ‘Oh, I have to protect this now,’ because I was coming off of a very well-written show with a very compelling storytelling, that it’s going to be compared, whatever I do.  Then I thought that I didn’t want to be a prude about it either.  I want to be able to embrace the largness of it, the uniqueness of it, and the fun!  I don’t want to say, ‘Oh no no, that’s not high-brow in any regard!’  But what won me over is the story-line and Gareth’s commitment.  He came after me, we talked, and I told him the initial problems I had with the script, and then we started talking some more, and then pretty soon, if you are not careful, as an actor you start to take ownership of it, and then you are sunk.

Question: We asked Gareth if the word Godzilla was actually ever uttered in the film, and he said that they were going to try it on for size and to see if it fits.  Have you done it yet?

Cranston: I haven’t said the word.  I’m not allowed to.  What’s funny is that there was a lot of secrecy about the whole thing, and early on they were calling it Nautilus, so I’m going through Canadian immigration, and trying to get my paperwork, and the guy was very efficient. ‘What are you working on?’ ‘A movie.’ ‘What’s the name of the movie?’ ‘Nautilus.’ And that’s when his eyes went up.  ‘You mean Godzilla.’  And I go,’ Yeah.’  But he even he knew!

Question: Is there’s something exciting or fantastic for you that you are in a Godzilla movie?

Cranston: I love Godzilla!  What I loved as a boy was Godzilla more than King Kong, because he just destroyed everything without any apologies.  I did. I loved it!  And then later on, I heard the story about the [American producer Joseph E. Levine] who bought this Japanese film [1954’s Godzilla] and was going to release it in the States but he knew it wasn’t going to fly, so he hired writers and Raymond Burr as a reporter and they shot a bunch of stuff and just inserted him throughout the movie and they released it and that’s how he made his fortune.

Question: How do you feel the human dynamic of the story is working with the man vs. nature element?

godzilla-ukCranston: I think that kind of contrast can exist together.  I always thought that when you saw a movie that had one element that they focused on and ignored the human element, I thought they were just lazy.  I just always do.  It’s not really my thing.  And if this move didn’t have a character component to it, I wouldn’t be here.  It just doesn’t interest me.

Question: We know that Elizabeth Olsen plays the wife of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character.  Do you have any interaction with her, and does she share his bitter feelings towards you?

Cranston: He has a great bit of resistance towards me, because of our past, and she plays the peace-maker.  You know, ‘He’s your father, you have to do the right thing.’  So we have that kind of a relationship, and it’s good.  And Juliette Binoche plays my wife, and I rewrote a lovemaking scene, and submitted that.  You know, just back-story.  Let’s be as honest as we can.  It didn’t make it into the script, so then I suggested, ‘You wanna’ work on the scene outside of set?’

Question:  What do you think about the new design of Godzilla? Were you pleased by it?

Cranston: My God, yeah!  Actually, the new design is basically back to an old design, I think.  The scale surprised me.  The extreme size of it compared to the MUTOs that they are fighting.  Even that!  When you see the MUTO it’s enormous, but it’s not nearly as big as Godzilla.

  • Edmundo

    Sounds like this is going to be one of those perfect alignments of story, spectacle and star performances that will absolutely take the focus off Superhero, vampire and YA flicks for a change. Realism is what Godzilla should be all about, the sheer terror of what a rampaging reptile born of atomic fire can unleash.
    Great interview with the always professional Bryan Cranston!