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Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen share 'Godzilla' stories

Elizabeth Olsen, Gareth Edwards, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston at 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego
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The 2014 “Godzilla” 3-D movie reboot goes back to the original concept of the Japanese “Godzillamovies as a classic horror story that does not fall into the pitfalls of campy humor but instead has a serious tone with an underlying social commentary about the dangers of humans messing with nature. The 2014 reboot also differs from previous “Godzilla” movies because the Godzilla monster doesn’t appear until at least halfway through the film and the full-frontal reveal of the monster comes even later. The trailers to this “Godzilla” also went to great lengths not to fully reveal what Godzilla looks like.

In the 2014 “Godzilla movie” (directed by Gareth Edwards), Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Naval officer Ford Brody, who specialty is disarming bombs. Ford’s wife, Elle Brody (played by Elizabeth Olsen), is a nurse. When Brody is goes to Japan to help his estranged scientist father, Joe Brody (played by Bryan Cranston), Elle is left behind in San Francisco, as Godzilla and new predatory alien monsters cause destruction and mayhem. Sneak-preview footage of “Godzilla” was shown at 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego. Here is what Taylor-Johnson, Olsen, Cranston and Edwards said at the Comic-Con press conference for “Godzilla.”

Why are we still fascinated with Godzilla?

Edwards: I think it's the fact that you can't answer that question. You can't just define it in a sentence When we first tried to figure out the film, we thought, 'What is it that makes Godzilla, Godzilla?' You go through all these different things and you actually find, after lots and lots of conversation, that it's undefinable to an extent. There have been so many movies that it's evolved and changed over the years and I think that's why it's stood the test of time.

We felt when we were doing this film we found that, apart from having Godzilla in the movie, you've got an infinite canvas and it's such a rich universe. Once you kind of accept the fact that there's giant creatures, you can kind of do then anything you want. I think that's why it's stood the test of time. It's so ripe for reinventing and revisiting. It's not a single story. It can be any story you want.

How challenging is it to keep from revealing the creature too early?

Edwards: With these films, you're going to sit in the cinema for two hours and you want to see Godzilla and you want to see him fight something else. If you just do it straight away and everything is all the way up to 11 the whole time, it might as well be at zero because it has no effect. And so it's all about contrast.

We tried to build the structure and rhythm of the movie we tried to create in such a way that the climax is more and more and more and more. By the end of the film, hopefully it's as powerful as it can be, when you get all of those moments, which come throughout the movie. In classic movies like “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park,” they don't actually show the monster [early].

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

Cranston: My discovery of Godzilla was back in the '50s when the Raymond Burr movie in '56, I think, came out the year I was born. 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 a wonderful use of miniatures.

But our tastes have become more sophisticated since then and certainly now. That's what's so great about this version of Godzilla is that 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 audiences wouldn't be invested either. That's 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.

What was it like to have to work with the effects for this “Godzilla” movie?

Edwards: I think the trick is not to view them as effects. You just go, “OK, this really happened. There really are giant monsters. What would be the most story that we can think of to tell?” It always involves humans, so you come up with those characters and you try to create that story. I don't separate the two in my mind. You just picture the movie.

What was so refreshing was that we would shoot scenes that sometimes had the creature elements in and sometimes didn't. We desperately tried to make it work from an emotional point of view on its own, and then you have the advantage of this creature.

And then you start reviewing stuff with the visual effects companies, as they start putting the special effects in, and you're like, “Oh, my god, I completely forgot that there's this whole other layer going on this.” We painstakingly worried about characters and their journey, and then suddenly you think about this spectacle that's going to be embedded in the whole film and it makes you feel really good. We really want to get it right with the whole character side of things.

Taylor-Johnson: The thing that I found really interesting about a film that's a special effects movie, my idea was that you're going to be in a studio filming these green screen monsters. There was, maybe, a couple of days of that, but the majority of time we would go film on location. It gave it just a whole other depth, and you forget about it.

We'd be on location with destruction everywhere and people were injured, and it came to life. It felt natural and realistic. The way we shot it, it's just kind of with you on this journey, from our perspective point of view. When you do get a glimpse of Godzilla, you're looking up from a car window or from a military helicopter, so you really feel, as an audience, that you're totally involved in it. That you're on this mad roller coaster journey with us.

Olsen: It's kind of funny to go, “OK, so in that corner up there is this thing. Is it like a unicorn or like a spider?” So, you know, it's kind of a weird. It's fun. It's like you're playing hot lava as a kid or something. You're trying to go deep into your imagination, like, 'Yeah, that's a monster! It's going to kill me unless I run fast!' So, it's fun.

Taylor-Johnson: There were times as well that it's hard to get the imagination of something, but it is a frightening prospect. It was really helpful … We'd have a scene where we'd see something happen from one of the creatures and Gareth would play something on the microphone so we'd get the sound of Godzilla, or somebody playing around with the special effects.

That was really great, to kind of hear something. You're envisioning it through your consciousness and then you're hearing something through the giant speakers around you. Sometimes he would do it without you knowing it and it would give a totally different layer.

Edwards: It was on my iPhone. I would desperately try to get to this clip with this sound and go, “That's not it. That's not it. That's not it.” And they'd go, “You're wasting camera time.” And I'd go, “I’ve got to find that noise!”

Taylor-Johnson: There was one time where it was like a walrus meets a tiger meets a hippo farting. It was so bizarre.

Edwards: You just gave it away … that sound effect.

Cranston: And also the other monster in the movie.

For more info: "Godzilla" website

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