Meet the director and star of Godzilla Minus One in our exclusive interview.
Crafting any movie can be a monumental task, but when you're forging a flagship film starring one of the most iconic characters in fiction, it's downright Godzill-ian. That's why, when we sat down with Godzilla Minus One screenwriter, visual effects supervisor, and director Takashi Yamazaki and star Ryunosuke Kamiki before the film's Hollywood premiere, we had to find out exactly what it was like to work with Godzilla. Read on for insights into their creative processes and… toy collections? Yes. We had to ask.
GODZILLA.COM: Yamazki-san, you worked on multiple aspects of Godzilla Minus One. You’re the director, screenwriter, and also visual effects supervisor — so you had a lot of creative control over the film. How did you know that Kamiki-san was the right star for Godzilla Minus One?
Takashi Yamazki: Kamiki-san’s character (Koichi Shikishima), when he appears to us in the first scene in the movie he’s really weak — obviously he has PTSD — and he runs away from whatever he feels. And then he goes through this entire journey until he’s able to have a showdown with Godzilla.
So I needed an actor who had a lot of range, and Kamiki-san definitely has that. And in his body of work, he does play a lot of more sensitive roles, so I was a bit curious as to what he’d be like as a fighter. “How can he portray someone who is going to battle Godzilla?” And I thought he was right for the part and his schedule allowed it, so we were really lucky to have him.
G.C: I like that answer in Hollywood. “His schedule allowed it.”
G.C: You mentioned PTSD. Godzilla Minus One is an intense film and it comments on history and serious issues that are a threat to the world. Were you still able to have fun while you made the movie?
Yamazaki: (Laughs). The whole fun was making a Godzilla movie! There is nothing more fun than making a Godzilla movie.
Ryunosuke Kamiki: He was like a kid in an amusement park. Like, “We’re doing Godzilla!” So you could almost feel it seeping out of his pores, he was so excited.
G.C: That’s appropriate since Yamazaki-san worked on Godzilla The Ride for an amusement park.
G.C: Every artist adds a piece of themselves to the work that they do — intentionally or sometimes unintentionally. What part of yourself do you think you added to Godzilla Minus One?
Kamiki: For me, I gave my soul to this movie. When I was cast, I was 28 years old. I’m 30 right now. I’ve been an actor for over 20 years and with this role, I really wanted to give my soul to the movie but also give it my all to battle Godzilla and to capture that.
Yamazki: For me, as soon as I saw my first kaiju film as a kid and I realized that there was such a thing as making kaiju films, I knew where my life would lead. It’s been over 50 years on that path and I do feel it has been satisfied. I gave a lot. So perhaps I gave more than a little piece of myself. (Laughs) I gave a large part of myself.
I have a big hole in my heart and it’s like “Oh. It’s people who have made Godzilla movies who are left with this feeling.” While I film I don’t anticipate any of this, but after the movie is done, when it’s out in the world, I feel this little empty place.
G.C: Yamazaki-san, I read that you used a model kit to design your first Godzilla in ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET-2 and you brought a Godzilla Minus One figure to the premiere in Japan. All Godzilla fans collect Godzilla toys. How many do each of you have?
Kamiki: I have two. I actually got those two after I went on Godzilla the Ride.
Yamazaki: I don’t have a lot. I have about four or five figures, between the ones that I have at home and at the office, but there’s this one figure that was made by a renowned sculptor that is so good that it sold out instantaneously, so that’s one to keep an eye out for, actually. So for Minus One’s Godzilla, keep an eye out for that one. Also, for lighting purposes and things like that, we did have a Godzilla 3D-printed, but it was also kind of a setup because I just wanted a 3D-printed Godzilla from Minus One.
G.C: I would’ve done the same.
G.C: Thank you very much for the interview.
Yamazaki & Kamiki: Thank you.