Articles: Becoming Part of the GODZILLA Franchise

This past weekend saw the release of Michael Dougherty’s highly anticipated GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. The film, which is a sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, finds the Monarch agency, with the help of Godzilla, going up against a slew of god-sized monsters such as Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla’s nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. Recently, we got to attend the global press conference for GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS where the cast spoke about what it was like to be part of the legendary Godzilla franchise.

No strangers to the horror genre, Kyle Chandler, who plays animal behavior and communication specialist Dr. Mark Russell and Bradley Whitford, who plays Dr. Risk Stanton, a crypto-sonographer working for Monarch, have faced their fair share of monsters in films such as Super 8 and Cabin in the Woods. When asked what drew them to their respective roles, Kyle remarked, “It’s Godzilla! Ten-year-old me said yes!” with Bradley stating, “The huge attraction for me was that I had never been in anything remotely like this. I wanted to see what it was like to do one of these movies.”

(L-R) Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS | Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden

Besides the monsters themselves, the scientist and military personnel take center stage and are just as important. When discussing his role in GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, Bradley stated, “It feels a little artificial at first but then you realize you are in a Godzilla movie and you just have to shut yourself into it.” Throughout his long career, Bradley has amassed a portfolio of characters that are severely sarcastic and uniquely funny with Dr. Stanton fitting those characteristics. When talking about the characters he plays he declared, “Single, overly sardonic, bitter people who you don’t want to see have relationships, that’s my wheelhouse. It used to be worse when I had done a whole series of just horrible human beings and people would meet me and think I’m Ted Bundy. I don’t know why I get those parts but they’re fun. They’re a lot of fun.”

As for Kyle’s character, Dr. Mark Russell is a man who is angry and out for vengeance not only towards these massive creatures but the group responsible for studying them. When talking about the emotional bridge of his character he stated, “When I was watching the movie [the other night], I could see where my [character] comes off really strong at first. These are big movies and they are big scripts and these big scripts have to be cut down. I don’t remember how many pages the script was originally but things get trimmed down so some of the things you work for don’t necessarily work. In the beginning, my character is big and angry and it was justified to me because, in my back story, I was part of this group [Monarch].” He goes on to say, “Some of these characters I knew intimately. Later on, it changed where I didn’t know them, but originally, Thomas [Middleditch] character I knew from the [first film] and he turned on me to keep my wife involved. When [Monarch] first lands, I know there are bad things going on, but do I know my daughter has been kidnapped? No, but I directly blame the people in [that] room because I knew they were going to cause problems. I knew my wife was going to cause problems and she has my daughter. So that’s where that comes from and [my anger] just carries on. That was the choice that I made – I’m angry at this group, I’m angry at this world, I’m angry at the loss of my child, and I don’t trust any of these people but damn it, I have to go with them in order to find my daughter.”

(L-R) Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell, Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell, Thomas Middleditch as Sam Coleman, Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton, Ziyi Zhang as Dr. Ilene Chen and Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS is the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise and there’s doesn’t seem to be an end in sight with Godzilla vs. Kong scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020. When asked why they think Godzilla has lasted as long as it has Bradley responded with, “I think the reason the story keeps getting retold twice a generation is that in our reptilian brain stems it’s a story about man’s arrogance thinking that they have transcended nature. Obviously, this is an important time to talk about how humanity can disrupt order in the world. It came out of this humanitarian environmental disaster which was the birth of Godzilla and I think that’s why it needs to keep being told.” Kyle agreed stating, “Every decade or so, when these Godzilla fils come out, if you look at whatever is going on in the culture around the world, that’s sort of integrated into the story of Godzilla. Godzilla is basically the wake-up call. When he comes to life something is wrong and he’s telling people to wake up and look at what they are doing.”

With GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS preparing to dominate the box office, there was one question I needed to know before the junket ended. It was clear that both Kyle Chandler and Bradley Whitford were overjoyed to be in such a massive franchise and that they had an appreciation for large-scale monster movies, which made me think of Bradley’s role in Cabin in the Woods (one of my all-time favorite horror/comedies). I rose from my seat and was given the task of asking the last question, so I looked Bradley square in the eyes and asked, “If it came down to it, would you go for Godzilla or Merman?” The room got quiet, Bradley looked down, and then looked back up at me with a slight smile on his face and proceeded to say, “What I had with the Merman was profound, very deep and very personal and it’s not something I’m really comfortable talking about.” It was quite literally the only answer that I could have hoped for and it left me with a huge smile on my face. With that said, if you love monster movies or are a die-hard Godzilla fan, you’ll definitely want to make sure to check out GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, now out in theaters nationwide. Want more Godzilla? Check out our review here


Shannon McGrew
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