Godzilla vs King Kong, Bryan Cranston weighs in

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston on why Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is something really special

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Godzilla
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Godzilla

Breaking Bad fan-favourite Bryan Cranston gets all the serious drama in Gareth Edwards‘ epic reboot of Toho’s original Kaiju Godzilla, and he’s not nothing but praise for the rapidly rising director that Ken Watanabe already described as “the new Nolan”

Can you tell us about your character?

My character is a physicist working as an independent contractor at a nuclear power plant. He’s all about the science of it, so when there is an anomaly of data that is being recorded, he thinks it might be an earthquake at first, but then the patterns are too regular, so there is something happening here which he can’t seem to find a scientific explanation. Then he realiaes that it has nothing to do with physics, but it has to do with biology. Then he’s like, “Wait a minute! I’m looking at it from a different point of view here,” and he adjusts. Then he sounds the alarm and tries to warn everybody, even though he doesn’t know what it is.

And your character is at odds with his son, right?

The relationship between my son [played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson] and I is a typical one: there is an over-worked dad who probably regrets the amount of time spent at work and missed opportunities with his son at home, and as he gets older, that creates a rift that we have to figure out how to bridge and work together to battle this demon, so to speak.

What was the first time you discovered Godzilla and what was your reaction?

My discovery of Godzilla was back in the ‘50s, when the Raymond Burr movie came out. Watching that on TV, as a kid, it was astonishing, even for its time. It was amazing to see those special effects that were state-of-the-art, at the time. I just loved it!

For a boy to watch that, it was great destruction and wonderful use of miniatures. I loved Godzilla more than say, King Kong, because Godzilla didn’t apologise, he just crushed things. That was the best. As a boy, I thought King Kong got soft and there were tears… no, just crush things, and there was the fire and everything. It was just more dramatic for me, more exciting.

Director Garenth Edwards on set with Cranston
Director Garenth Edwards on set with Cranston

How is this movie different from that?

Well, our tastes have become more sophisticated since then, and certainly now. That’s what’s so great about this version. There was careful concern to develop the plotlines and intricacies, and the character development. Without us, as actors and performers, getting into our roles, the audience wouldn’t be invested either.

What makes it more interesting for me is that I believe audiences will truly be invested in these characters, and riding with them through the tensions and fears and anxieties that the characters are going through. You’ll feel it more, and it will ultimately be a better experience for you.

How is working with Gareth Edwards?

That’s another reason I am here. I saw his movie, Monsters , and it was impressive not only from a suspenseful point of view and from its storytelling, but that he showed terrific restraint, very much like Spielberg did in . It wasn’t like, “Here it is! Here it is!” “Oh right, there it is.” And there was also very strong character development in it. I really loved it. And it really is another reason why I am here.

He asked me to see that movie and I did and we talked a lot, and he was very open to ideas and suggestions. He has a great combination for a director, and that is having a clear vision of what he wants, but at the same time, being willing and able to be malleable, to be flexible in that. He can change and adjust to what he thinks might be a better idea or a better way of telling that specific point in the story.

I said to him, “It’s remarkable. You did a $200,000 movie, and now you are doing a $200 million. You have every right to be freaking out of your mind!” And yet he is calm. He hasn’t taken on any external pressure. He is not freaking out. He’s handling it quite well.

Finally, why do you think Godzilla is back?

The story of Godzilla resonates. For it to be able to go for 60 years, there is something about it that means you can recreate it, retell it in different ways, and it still has some resonance to it, that for some reason, people are drawn to it, generation after generation. At first, I think what it is, is the resiliency of the story, that it could be about imperialism, about oppression, and in this story, I think it’s cautionary, actually.

You look at the tale and you see the scope of it, and it’s relevant to today’s times. It’s about harnessing power, dispersing of waste and messing around with Mother Nature. Can you actually do that and get away with that? How long can you get away with that? Living in that milieu is this creature that emerges from the muck and mire. It’s very exciting.

Godzilla is due in cinemas 16 May 2014. You can buy the 1954 Godzilla on DVD for £10.83 at Amazon.co.uk.