Something of a Legendary Pictures stalwart thanks to his work with Christopher Nolan on Inception and Batman Begins, Ken Watanabe nonetheless brings Japanese cinema’s seal of approval for Legendary’s Godzilla reboot, playing Dr Ichiro Serizawa. But, as the actor exclusively reveals to SciFiNow, he had more than a few reservations about taking the nuclear menace back to Hollywood…
What does this version of Godzilla mean to you?
In Japan, this year is the 60th anniversary of Godzilla since the original 1954 film, and we’ve had 28 different Godzilla movies since then. But Asian people know that the 60th anniversary is a very special one, because we have 12 animals for a year, and there are five cycles of the 12 for a ‘life’, and so 60 means being reborn.
So this is like Godzilla is being reborn, back to the original, and Gareth [Edwards] knows about that.
Were you worried about redoing something so quintessentially Japanese?
If you are telling the Godzilla story, you cannot separate it from the nuclear element, and the first thing I asked was whether there was going to be the nuclear element, as that now, in Japan, is a really sensitive problem. I was worried about how I could use that and how I could make that okay, but Gareth understood those feelings.
But with this I was really nervous. I obviously have so many Japanese friends, and all of them were saying, “A Godzilla movie? In Hollywood? The last one was…” But I trust Gareth.
How was working with Gareth?
Before I met Gareth, the producers at Legendary said to me, “He’s the next generation’s Chris Nolan. I said, “Really?” They said yes. And I trust them. After this.
Are you ever worried about being typecast in Hollywood?
No. I think I play lots of different types of characters. They’re just Japanese.
Godzilla is due in cinemas 16 May 2014. You can buy the 1954 Godzilla on DVD for £10.83 at Amazon.co.uk.