Michael Dougherty: Godzilla sequel had one of the biggest purposes of all time
Following the success of Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island comes Godzilla II: King Of The Monsters - the next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse. Kerri-Ann Roper talks to director Michael Dougherty and the film's stars about the epic action adventure
She's only 15 years old, but actress Millie Bobby Brown has the world of Hollywood and beyond falling at her feet. Following her role in Netflix's hit series Stranger Things, she is a global name who you imagine could have the pick of any acting project she wanted. But the actress, who was born in Spain and grew up in Britain before moving across the pond, is clear on the type of projects she wants to attach her name to.
And her film debut in Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is indeed such a project.
The film, directed by Michael Dougherty, sees Bobby Brown playing Madison Russell, daughter to scientists Mark and Emma Russell, played by Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga.
She explains: "Going into the film, I wanted to and had an urge to talk to the director about what this film was going to represent. I want to attach myself to projects that have a meaning, that have a real purpose and this movie had one of the biggest purposes of all time.
"I mean this movie represents our planet, quite literally. Our movie basically talks about current issues that are going on now: climate change, conservation for animals and nature and understanding our planet in a better form and respecting animals. That definitely very much appealed to me."
Also in the film is O'Shea Jackson Jnr, who is the son of rapper Ice Cube and is also known by stage name OMG. He plays a soldier but as a lifelong fan of Godzilla said it was a project he couldn't wait to sign up to.
"Personally as a fan of Godzilla, I've been dying for him to get redone with the new technology and everything," he says.
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"So this legendary monster versus really what you've been dying for as a fan - especially as an American Godzilla fan, the American Godzillas have gotten a bad rap - so this one you get to add to the lore, add to the legend and at the same time pay homage to those before us."
It's a message director Dougherty echoes. So much so that his iteration of Godzilla harks back to the original monster form first seen in 1954.
The American director, known for other films including 2015's horror-comedy Krampus, also recognises the 2014 film directed by British filmmaker Gareth Edwards.
Dougherty says: "I think that the design that Gareth came up with in the previous chapter was brilliant. It captured his fearsomeness, his strength but also his soul and so I really just tweaked the design.
"Godzilla changes in every movie, that's what makes Godzilla really special too is that every incarnation is a bit different to the last, he sort of is evolution in the flesh.
"So I tried to bring him back a little closer to the original design by changing his back spikes, so if you look at the back spikes in my incarnation they are identical to the 1954 design because I loved those designs, they felt almost like fossilised fire."
And it seems his path to Godzilla started many years ago.
"I went to Catholic school and sometimes you get bored in class while reading chapters of the Bible and so to make it more entertaining, I would add Godzilla," he says, when asked about reports he used to draw the monster at any given opportunity.
"I'm of the belief if you add Godzilla to anything, it makes it better. So whether it's any movie or chapter of the Bible - you add Godzilla and it makes it way more entertaining."
Entertainment on set was not in short supply.
Farmiga says: "Millie was just a joy, constantly singing and dancing and teaching me Fortnite dance moves."
Something else that has been much-discussed is the cautionary tale Godzilla has carried with it, relating to man's interference in nature and the dramatic effects it has.
It's a current theme, but one Godzilla has carried with it since the character's inception. It's also a message that was central to Dougherty's version of the film.
He explains: "That's a fundamental part of Godzilla as a character, is that message whether you want to believe it or not, it's undeniable.
"That was the intention of the character's creation in 1954 and that's evolved with the times, all the way up to the present day.
"So if you don't include that message, you're not really making a Godzilla film, it's just a giant monster movie, which is fine, but that's what makes him special is that spirit, that heart and that's why he continues to be around from decade to decade because that message needs to be heard."
- Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is in cinemas now