Set Visit Coverage: Actor Bryan Cranston Talks Godzilla from the Set!
Last June we sat down on the Vancouver set of the then-shooting Godzilla with actor Bryan ‘Walter White’ Cranston to chat about the titular irradiated lizard, his lead character of ‘Joe Brody’ and more; and with the film’s embargo now lifted, here it is: Heisenberg talks the ‘Big G.’
Part reboot and part direct sequel to director Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original of the same name, the 2014 Gareth Edwards-helmed Godzilla features actors Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy), Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe, in a script by Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham and Frank Darabont, which pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent and Brian Rogers produce, alongside executive producers Alex Garcia, Patricia Whitcher, Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.
(Writer’s Note: Spoilers ahead, so proceed at your own discretion).
Just prior to engaging in a lengthy interview with Godzilla director Edwards (you can read that here), Cranston, decked out in a costume familiar to fans of his role in the television series “Breaking Bad” (a HAZMAT suit), convened with us between takes and proved to be entirely and unsurprisingly engaging.
“He’s a nuclear physicist,” stated Cranston of his outfit, and of his character ‘Joe Brody’ in Godzilla.
“He works at this nuclear power plant as an independent contractor, who is brought in to oversee the structural significance of the building itself, and then he notices (that) there’s an anomaly to some recordings that are happening, (some) seismic activity. It’s baffling, because it’s not irregular as an earthquake would be random. This is steady and pulsating. So he starts to investigate and he’s just trying to wrap his head around it when all hell breaks loose.”
Having just witnessed via monitor an apparently pivotal scene in which Cranston and actor Taylor-Johnson investigate the dilapidated remains of their characters’ abandoned home in Japan (Cranston portrays Aaron’s estranged father in the film), we pressed the actor for details, particularly as to whether his character was at that moment aware of the existence of the titular beast. (Note: Talent had clearly been instructed by the production’s producers to remain rather secretive of the flick’s plot.)
“I go into my old office searching for something specific, something that’s alive,” he answered. (Note: Okay, I’ll wildly speculate that what Cranston’s character was looking for was his son’s childhood pet in an effort to ascertain the effects of radiation upon it, a pet that’s fled its aquarium, an aquarium with the name ‘Mothra’ written on it).
As for Godzilla itself, “That’s the furthest thing from his mind right now,” stated the prolific and versatile actor, whose past credits additionally include the wholesome television series “Malcolm in the Middle,” the Oscar-winning feature Argo, and dozens more.
“He thinks it’s a geological phenomenon, and then he comes to realize, but too late, that it’s not, and that it’s biological,” Cranston expounded.
Given Godzilla’s lineage and the 2014 film’s old-school, 1950’s inspired set-up, we queried him in regards to what for him not only drew him to the material, but of what also contemporized it.
“The reason I’m here is because this story is interestingly driven by strong character motivations,” answered the three-time Emmy-award winner.
“If you saw Gareth’s movie Monsters, which is one of the things that got me involved in (initial) conversations, it was like a character-driven monster movie, and I’m much more attracted to character-driven pieces, from the ‘old school’ perhaps, where you actually want to care about and invest in the characters, and root for them or hate them or whatever, and there is a very strong father-son component to this, and my character makes huge, sweeping decisions that reverberate throughout the rest of the story, that are emotional as well, which is really what brought me here.”
As for the narrative of Legendary’s Godzilla, the film takes place in three separate time periods; the 1950’s (in which the U.S. Navy discovers the last surviving member of an ancient radioactive amphibious species surviving under the waters near the Marshall Islands, and metes out a failed attempt to kill it with nuclear weapons), the 1990’s (in which the creature arises to smack the crap out of Japan, and in the process destroys the previously mentioned home) and in 2014, in which the appearance of creatures known as ‘M.U.T.O.’s’ (kaiju who look vaguely reminiscent of the creature at the center of the feature Cloverfield) appear, which in turn elicits the return of Godzilla from the depths of the ocean.
At its center however is the estranged relationship between Cranston’s character, a scientist obsessed, and his son, ‘Ford,’ an explosive ordinance disposal expert in the U.S. Navy, whose lives are displaced emotionally and geographically by the appearance of Godzilla, and the ramifications of such.
Cranston expounded on this, and on his character’s fragmented relationship with his son.
“He’s, especially at this time, experiencing a frustrating anomaly happening in his work that he just can’t give a scientific answer (for). As a scientist you are compelled to always go back to the science of things, that there’s a logical answer for every cause, you know, and with this there doesn’t seem to be, and it’s just driving him crazy. The consequence is that he has (dived) into his work, so there is that sense of missing out on some of the upbringing of his child, and then you learn to regret it afterwards.”