Bryan Cranston brings humor to the set of the serious 'Godzilla'
When a group of fellow journalists and I were invited to visit the massive Vancouver set of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.' upcoming "Godzilla" reboot last year, it happened to coincide with Cranston's last day of principal photography. As a sign of his gratitude to the cast and crew, the Emmy winner rented a local ice cream truck for the day. With a picture of Heisenberg adorning the side of the truck, Rocky Point Ice Cream dished out Godzilla-themed flavors.
If that was any indication, the new "Godzilla" seems to be headed in the right direction, with many fans in awe of the film's trailers and promotional materials.
"Godzilla" is the latest take on the classic nuclear age Japanese monster, and the studio is hoping to eradicate any lingering memories of Hollywood's last attempt at the creature feature -- 1998's dismal Roland Emmerich-directed effort.
To that end, director Gareth Edwards ("Monsters") has assembled a formidable cast, led by Cranston.
Playing Joseph Brody, a nuclear physicist who travels the globe along with his soldier son Ford (played by "Kick-Ass" star Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Cranston finds himself uncovering a vast conspiracy involving Godzilla, and several other monsters, as well as smaller-scaled creeps dubbed "Mutos."
The scene we witnessed being filmed found father and son exploring the decrepit ruins of a house in Japan (is that a Godzilla footprint in the floor?), before a loud noise startles them. "Something happened at the plant near their home" in the past, Cranston told us, with an air of mystery. Joe assumes it's part of a larger cover-up, while Ford is initially skeptical when it comes to the idea of giant monsters.
While the film refers to events from the original 1954 film, it's not specifically a sequel. Taking place in different locales, over several decades, the film has a through-line from 1999 to today, observing the Godzilla phenomenon through the eyes of the Brody family.
Cranston was, naturally, careful not to give too much of the plot away, but explained that this "Godzilla" is a globetrotting adventure, and revolves around his character's family's run-ins with the creature through the decades.
It starts in 1999, "when [Taylor-Johnson’s] character of ‘Ford’ is a boy, when this eruption starts to happen, 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 [Ford] is a grown man with his own family."
With action in Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco, we were told several times that this "Godzilla" will be a gritty, "boots-on-ground" look at the mythos, more "Blackhawk Down" than Toho fantasy.
It also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe.
Like most mega-budget studio tentpoles, secrecy reigned on the set, even to the point where the word "Godzilla" was at times verboten.
"I haven't said the word," Cranston revealed conspiratorially. "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 [immigration] 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.’ Even he knew!"
The big, green guy has apparently always captured the imagination of Cranston. "I love Godzilla!" the actor enthused. "What I loved as a boy was Godzilla more than King Kong, because he just destroyed everything without any apologies. I loved it!"
The jovial Cranston was constantly looking for a laugh. When asked about whether his character is involved in the film's epic-looking action, he promised that we'd see "some ‘hot scientist’ action! Some ‘scientist on scientist’ action. You can’t miss it! Sometimes there’s some ‘three-way’ scientist action. Oh yeah!"
He also joked that the "Malcolm in the Middle" family would adopt Godzilla if they met him. "We would honor Godzilla, as the alpha of the group."
The lovely Oscar winner Juliette Binoche plays his wife, and Cranston cracked that he "rewrote a lovemaking scene, and submitted that. It didn’t make it into the script, so then I suggested, ‘You wanna work on the scene outside of set?’"
Go to page 2 to read what Cranston thinks of Godzilla's new design, and working with director Gareth Edwards.