‘Godzilla’: Director Gareth Edwards Exclusive Interview

Godzilla Director Gareth Edwards
A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic action adventure “GODZILLA,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo © 2014 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. & LEGENDARY PICTURES PRODUCTIONS LLC)

Easily one of the most anticipated films of 2014, Godzilla will be roaring into theaters on May 14th with hopes high that it will in no way resemble the most recent Hollywood take on the classic creature. Director Gareth Edwards is a self-proclaimed Godzilla geek (at the 2014 CinemaCon he called himself the second biggest Godzilla fan on the planet, with the #1 spot held by the film’s producer Thomas Tull) and he made sure the new addition to the long line of Godzilla films is worthy of its predecessors.

Edwards was on hand at the 2014 WonderCon to talk about the upcoming release of the Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures film that has moviegoers who haven’t been into gigantic creature features looking forward to checking out his vision for this new Godzilla movie.

Gareth Edwards Interview

Can you talk about the pressure of directing a new Godzilla film and how did you decide on the scale of this Godzilla?

Gareth Edwards: “As much pressure as I guess you get put on by the studio and especially the fans to do the best that you can, probably both of them combined probably didn’t equal the pressure I put on myself. I’ve always wanted to make films; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you’ve got to do it right. I put myself under a lot of pressure and was trying not to paralyze myself with it, but you also have to ignore it. I felt like that became the solution was to block it out and just, in a weird way, be very selfish and just make a film I really wanted to see because you can’t really… I find you can’t approach filmmaking by doing things for other people. You’ve got to do what’s going to give you goosebumps when you sit in the cinema and watch something.

And then it was like we got into whole design of it. Talking about the height, our Godzilla is 350 foot, which is the tallest Godzilla, I think, that there’s been. There’s a reason for that which is we had a model of Godzilla, we had a model of the city, we animated him walking around doing his thing, and then we filmed him in the computer from a rooftop, from the ground, different sizes of Godzillas. Then we sat and watched all the footage and there was one where we were like, ‘Okay, that’s the perfect balance. He’s tall enough to be omnipresent and he’s small enough to be hidden so we can have fun.’ And that was 350 feet. I think the reason it was that was basically because of the height in modern cities. They kind of get taller, obviously, over generations and that’s why I think in the Godzilla films he always gets a bit taller with each incarnation.”

You’ve assembled a terrific cast. What was it like working with this ensemble?

Gareth Edwards: “It’s a bit of a problem because once people ask me about the cast, it’s like a 20 minute answer because you go through each one individually and say what’s so brilliant. It’s a very long answer. But, I was really lucky in that in my mind you can’t help but picture people when you’re working on the screenplay and you think, ‘They’re never going to do it because there’s an assumption about what a Godzilla movie is.’ I think there is this idea that some actors do something personal, then they do something commercial, then they do something personal, and what I would say to them is, ‘You’ve got to view this as your personal movie. Don’t think of it as commercial. This has got to be emotional and moving and all those things that you would put in any other film, and it just happens to have a giant monster in it.’ And so I think they were all excited about that idea and it was very easy to accomplish, because obviously when we’re filming there isn’t really a Godzilla there. He was in a play on Broadway and he wasn’t able to make it to the shoot and so we had to animate him in the end. But it was very easy for us to forget and think that we were doing a disaster movie. And then when we start layering in the Godzilla element, like in the computer when we start doing post-production, you’re suddenly like you’ve made this one bit work hopefully on its own and suddenly there’s this other layer that comes in that you just go, ‘Okay,’ and it elevates the film even more.”

Why didn’t you incorporate any of the existing monsters into this Godzilla?

Gareth Edwards: “We wanted to create our own creature, but I think there are probably legal issues involved for the other creatures that it probably wasn’t even on the table, in terms of an option. But I was most excited about, ‘Okay, we’ve got Godzilla – that’s defined – we sort of think we know who he is, and now we’ve got this infinite canvas and we can create something else.’ That was exciting as well. Like, what do we come up with that he would encounter and why would it be connected to him? I think you get one buy-in with the audience which is a giant monster and so if you’re going to create another, it has to be connected somehow. You don’t get two ‘get out of jail’ cards, I don’t think.”

Watch the interview: