“Godzilla definitely represents a force of nature”: Gareth Edwards

What was your first thought when you found out you would be directing Godzilla?

Gareth Edwards- Can you bleep things out? “Holy fuck!” Yeah, I think it was something like that. Yeah.

Is this a dream gig for you?

Gareth Edwards – It’s kind of a dream, and a bit of a nightmare gig, in that whoever does this movie– You can’t screw it up. There’s a lot of pressure. And to be honest, I was nervous about doing it. But it was just one notch less nervous than I was about not doing it. Like, the idea of living your life and now walking around a city, and seeing billboards and going, “Aw, I got offered that and I said no.” I couldn’t have lived with myself, really. It’s such a great opportunity.

How excited were you to work with a budget of this size?

Gareth Edwards-  I mainly spent my time on set– There were many sets. Every time we’d come on set, I’d go, “How much did this set cost?” And they would go, “Uh–” And there was one set we were on that was nine hundred thousand dollars. And I made my last film for less than that. And so it was more like a price tag, with a barcode reader going– “How much was that?” And you go, “You can make a movie for that.” And after a while you get bored of doing that and you just carry on with the movie. But it was definitely– There was an adjustment at the start, where it was kind of like, just add two or three zeroes to everything. And to sort of get used to this new currency that we’re spending when you do a big movie.

In order for the monsters to be believable, how pivotal is the human story?

 Gareth Edwards-  I personally feel that if you don’t believe the humans, you don’t care about them, then everything’s kind of pointless. And so they became, really, the key for me to making the movie work. And it was important that we found characters where their journey intersects with Godzilla’s journey in the film, in such a way that whatever he does has an impact on them and what they do has an impact on him. They’re not just slapped together. That somehow they intertwine. But yeah, it took us about a year and a half to find the characters and the storyline that we felt could pull that off.

gareth-edwards-3Was it difficult for your actors to work opposite Godzilla?

Gareth Edwards- It’s funny, because everyone says that. Everyone says, like, “What is it like to try and act when something’s not there?” And you go, “Well, every single shot in every movie, they’re usually looking at something that’s–” There’s a camera here, a microphone here. There’s a light here. And you can’t see the actor that you’re supposed to be talking to. And so every movie is full of this thing that they do where they have to imagine. And in a weird way– So Godzilla’s no different, in that sense. But the main thing for me was the– There was a word that kept appearing on the set when we were talking about the film. We obviously used the word “epic” a lot. That was, like, one of our main goals. But the other key word was “emotion.” And we wanted to try and create moments within the film where you’re feeling a lot. And it’s something people maybe don’t associate with Godzilla, but all the actors were all trying their hardest. And there are certain moments in the film that I think they knocked it out of the park. I don’t want to give them away for the audience, but they’re very effective.

 

 

Do you hope audiences get involved and cheer and scream during the movie?

Gareth Edwards- That was me. I just go to every screening, and I just, like, shout out things and clap just to kind of– No, I heard that. Someone said that, and I– That’s amazing. That’s what you hope for. There are certain “cheer moments.” And even Thomas, the producer, he would reference the film like that. He’d say, “We need a ‘cheer moment’ here and a ‘cheer moment’ there,” and, “We have to get this ‘cheer moment.'” And I always thought, “Oh, it’s a bit presumptuous that people are going to cheer.” But he was dead right. Every time we hit those moments, whenever we show it, people cheer. And you go, “Oh, cool. This is good. This is why people make films. This is a nice feeling.” All that pain is kind of worth it.

Why is seeing a monster in a city exciting to audiences?

Gareth Edwards- Yeah. I think it feels right because– We’ve evolved. It’s only in recent years we’ve had cities. For millions of years, we’ve lived in nature. And there were animals– every day there was this fear the animals would attack. Now we’ve built these giant cities, I think those fears have become giant as well. And it’s hardwired in our DNA to expect the animal. And so there’s– Even though it shouldn’t work, there’s something visually true about our homes, these cityscapes and this kind of representation of nature, coming to attack. It just kind of– It just feels right. There’s something strange about it.

Would you say Godzilla is a metaphor for nature rebelling, or taking revenge on us?

Gareth Edwards- Yeah, I think it’s– Godzilla definitely represents a force of nature. Or nature, in our movie. And the other thing that he confronts, without giving too much away– They represent man’s abusive nature. And I think, probably, the film is really about the fact that the more we try and contain and control nature, the more we’re going to get hurt. And the best thing we can do is accept the fact that we don’t control nature, nature controls us, and try and live as part of it. And that’s probably the hidden, deep message of our movie. But on the surface, it’s just a good monster movie, I hope.

How much are you hoping the surprises in this movie stay unspoiled?

Gareth Edwards- Nothing’s a surprise to me anymore. I’ve seen the film, like, three hundred times. And it’s only when other people tell you, like, “Oh, I was surprised at that,” you go, “Oh, yeah! I guess you would be.” And I hope– in this day and age, it’s so hard with the Internet. People can’t– How they say things and things get out. But I think most people are probably exposed to the trailers, and that’s kind of it. And the people who lurk and try and find things out are hardcore fans that are going to do that anyway. And I look forward to people seeing the movie that haven’t watched any trailers, don’t know anything. I feel like that’s– As soon as you decide to go, I think you should stop watching stuff and just wait until you see it at the cinema. I know, I know. I’m as bad as anyone else, because I look online to see what everyone’s saying. You can’t help it. You just want to know what everyone thinks.

How did you know when you found the perfect roar?

Gareth Edwards-  It was never really a eureka moment. Erik Aadahl, he was the sound designer, he used the scientific microphones that record at slow motion. So tiny little creaks of a chair when slowed down are like– So we used this new technology. And he recorded hundreds of things to build Godzilla’s roar out of those. And it’s a secret what it was. He told me on the very last day when we finished, and I’m not allowed to tell the press. But, yeah, when we first played it in Dolby Surround, it was– Everything shook, the lights flickered, and it was like, “Yeah, okay, that’s it.”

How do you hope audiences experience this film?

Gareth Edwards- Yeah. I mean, there’s obviously lots of different ways of seeing it. I recently had the privilege of “approving” the 3-D IMAX® version. And it was very impressive. It was kind of– I felt like, “Okay, I wouldn’t mind going–” I’d pay myself to go back and see it in IMAX®, I think.

Interview Courtesy- Warner Bros India

 

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