Bryan Cranston brings humor to the set of the serious 'Godzilla'
'Breaking Bad' star on film's family drama, special effects, and 'hot scientist action'
Although he hadn't yet seen the final design (and had to react to empty green screens standing in for Godzilla), Cranston had an idea of what the beast will look like in the film. "The new design is basically back to an old design," he explained. "The scale surprised me. The extreme size of it compared to the MUTOs that they are fighting. When you see the MUTO it’s enormous, but it’s not nearly as big as Godzilla."
While we also didn't get to see Godzilla on the set (the completely CG creation was added in later), the creature's scale was immediately apparent. Likewise, Cranston and the other interviewees were tight-lipped about the film's other giant monsters (the allegedly insect-like MUTOs are apparently spawned by radiation on a Filipino military base), but signs of destruction were everywhere, with Edwards presiding over the whole gigantic operation.
Cranston found working with Edwards a breeze. "He’s remarkably calm," the actor explained. "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.
"So before I even signed on, I had two very lengthy conversations over the phone when I was still shooting ‘Breaking Bad,’ he continued. "At first I was a little reticent...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 largesse of it, the uniqueness of it, and the fun! 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."
While Max Borenstein ("Seventh Son") is credited with the screenplay, but work was also done by David Callaham ("The Expendables"), David S. Goyer ("Man of Steel"), Drew Pearce ("Iron Man 3") and Frank Darabont ("Shawshank Redemption").
Cranston was able to inject some of his ideas into his character's scenes, however. "As you know, there are a lot of writers on this. I don’t know who did what, and whose sensibility was woven through," he said. "There were some minor things, just points of view. For instance there was a thing where my character assumes that my son is going to go with me on this dangerous excursion, and I just thought that was wrong. It was an easy fix. And then I proposed a couple of things, like more (of a) broad stroke kind of sentiment."
Working with the absentee Godzilla was another story altogether.
"It’s like a laser pointer," Cranston said of the imaginary beast. "‘OK, see where the laser is now on the green screen?,'" he laughed. "That’s part of an actor’s bag anyway, just imagination. I think it was probably easier for my generation too, because we got bored easily in the back seat of a station wagon and there was nothing to do and you had to just daydream. I never thought that my extensive daydreaming catalogue would actually come in handy someday, and it really has. It’s interesting, because I wonder if this new generation that has instant entertainment at every turn will in a sense fully develop an imagination, or will it be derivative of what they see that’s hitting them all of the time, because they don’t have a chance to wonder on their own?"
"Godzilla" opens May 16.