Godzilla Production Notes
The world’s most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic action adventure “Godzilla.” From visionary new director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) comes a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless.
The film stars an international ensemble cast led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), Oscar® nominee Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Inception”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Oscar® winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” “Cosmopolis”), and Oscar® nominee Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), with Oscar® nominee David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Bourne Legacy”) and Emmy® and Golden Globe Award winner Bryan Cranston (“Argo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”).
Edwards directed “Godzilla” from a screenplay by Max Borenstein, story by David Callaham, based on the character “Godzilla” owned and created by TOHO CO., LTD. Thomas Tull produced the film, along with Jon Jashni, Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Patricia Whitcher and Alex Garcia served as executive producers, alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar®-nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC (“Anna Karenina,” “The Avengers”); production designer Owen Paterson (“The Matrix” trilogy); film editor Bob Ducsay (“Looper”); Oscar®-nominated costume designer Sharen Davis (“Dreamgirls,” “Django Unchained”); and Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel ( “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy). Allen Maris is the visual effects producer. Dave Jordan was the music supervisor. The score was composed and conducted by Oscar®-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat (“Argo,” “The King’s Speech”).
Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures present a Legendary Pictures production, a Gareth Edwards film, “Godzilla.” The film will be presented in 3D, 2D and IMAX® in select theatres and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it is distributed by Toho Co., Ltd.
Legendary Pictures is a division of Legendary Entertainment.
About The Production
The Legacy Of Godzilla
“The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control, and not the other way around.”—Dr. Serizawa
In 1954, Japan’s Toho Co., Ltd., released Ishiro Honda’s groundbreaking monster movie “Godzilla” in a country still reeling from the devastation of World War II. The film became a massive hit in Japan, and, 60 years later, continues to resonate around the world for distilling the fears and horrors of the atomic age into an awe-inspiring force of nature...Godzilla.
“‘Godzilla’ is the benchmark of monster movies,” says Gareth Edwards, the British director at the helm of the epic new vision for Toho’s iconic creation. Edwards grew up on Japanese monster movies before discovering Honda’s 1954 masterpiece on DVD and was fascinated by its stark allegorical subtext and continuing relevance in contemporary times. “If you went around the world with the silhouette of a giant dinosaur looming over a city, everyone would know exactly who it is—whether they’ve seen a Godzilla movie or not. But what many people don’t realize is that the original Japanese ‘Godzilla’ is actually a very serious film. I think that’s the reason it was so embraced by Japanese culture—because not only is it a great monster movie, it was also very cathartic for people to see those images brought to life on screen in such a visceral and real way.”
Partially reshot, softening some of its metaphorical bite, and dubbed into multiple languages, the film was released abroad two years later and a legend was born. For the past six decades, the towering “King of the Monsters” has cut a swath through pop culture, spawning numerous sequels, an army of toys, and incarnations in everything from comic books to video games. A whole new genre of movies emerged—kaiju eiga—and Godzilla became one of the most beloved and recognizable movie heroes of the 20th and, now, 21st centuries.
Bryan Cranston, one of the stars of the new film, has vivid memories of being enthralled as he watched the monster rampage across his childhood TV screen. “Godzilla with his fiery breath...he just destroyed everything in his wake,” Cranston remembers. “It was actually a man in a suit stomping through a miniature Tokyo, but it was marvelous to a young kid. There’s a part of me that will always be that boy, but the whole sensibility of how to make a movie like this has matured; the audience has evolved. It’s not just about Godzilla smashing things up. People are still going to root for him, but you also want to be connected to what’s happening and root for the characters to make it through.”
Like Cranston, Legendary Pictures’ Thomas Tull grew up devouring monster movies, but the crown jewel of Toho’s legion always reigned supreme in his mind. “From his signature roar to the outline of those dorsal fins to the radioactive fire that he breathes, Godzilla is an absolute global icon,” he says. “Over the years, Toho has examined the character in different ways and pitted him against a whole menagerie of giant creatures, but my favorite will always be the Japanese original, which was at once a terrifying monster movie and a profound cautionary tale.”
Tull, who produced Edwards’ “Godzilla” along with Jon Jashni, President of Legendary Pictures, veteran producer Mary Parent and British filmmaker Brian Rogers, long harbored a passion to bring the titanic leviathan to the big screen in a summer spectacle with all the heart and human stakes of the original. “Our intention has always been to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain relevant for as long as it has,” Tull explains. “Our plan was to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see—a movie that didn’t feel like a thrill ride for its own sake, but to take it back to its roots and create a human story within the context of today’s world. I’ve been waiting for this film my whole life.”
Inherent in the challenge of reinventing such an iconic property was putting at its helm a director who could offer a fresh perspective and keen cinematic aesthetic while remaining true to Godzilla’s integrity and legacy. They found all those qualities in Gareth Edwards, an emerging filmmaker who took the independent film world by storm with his award-winning “Monsters.” Edwards not only wrote and directed the film, but designed and shot it as well as singlehandedly creating all the visual effects on his laptop.
“From our very first conversation with Gareth, you got that sense that he was a passionate Godzilla fan,” Tull notes. “And after seeing ‘Monsters,’ which he made on an absolute shoestring budget, we came away with the feeling that if he had more resources and a bigger canvas, he could do something extraordinary.”
Jon Jashni adds that the young director struck the perfect balance between invention and human truth. “Just because you can throw a ton of digital resources at the screen doesn’t mean you should, as that doesn’t really aid audience immersion in the world you’re trying to create,” says the producer. “On ‘Monsters,’ Gareth had to suggest a lot more than he could afford to show. He came from a character-based perspective, grounded in the real world, and then layered otherworldly elements into that world. ‘Monsters’ was microcosmic of what we hoped to create with our new Godzilla movie: something real and true.”
Producer Mary Parent was also impressed with Edwards’ indie hit, noting that both his storytelling sensibilities and filmmaking background inspired confidence in everyone that Godzilla would be in good hands. “We knew that Gareth would channel all his vision as an artist and storyteller, along with his command of visual effects technology, into making a film that’s worthy of putting this character on screen in the way that he deserves and hasn’t been seen before," Parent says. “But we also knew that he could create characters that we can relate to and care about, and take the audience into the experience of ‘Godzilla’ through the eyes of the people living through it.”
Knowing he was being handed the reins to a legend, Edwards turned for inspiration—as Ishiro Honda had before him—to the world he saw around him. “I know it sounds impossible, but imagine for a moment the arrival of a great creature that mankind can’t even communicate with, much less control...what would that be like to live through?” he posits. “How would the world react? We’ve all seen or experienced incomprehensible disasters, natural or otherwise, that would seem like a scenario from a movie if they didn’t actually happen. So the challenge of making the ultimate Godzilla movie was to reflect that reality, which gets back to the heart of what Godzilla is really about.”
Tull says, “One thing we wanted to do with the film, which was a goal shared by our partners at Toho, was to set part of the story in Japan and maintain Godzilla's connection to nuclear energy, but to also do so with respect and sensitivity in light of current events."
Producer Brian Rogers adds, “The parallels that existed in the 1954 film, dealing with the balance between man and nature, and all the potential ways it could be pushed over the edge, is still as relevant today as it was back then—maybe even more so in this day and age.”
Working out of London, Edwards embarked on marathon Skype sessions with the film’s Los Angeles-based screenwriter, Max Borenstein, to shape a story that would both hint at Godzilla’s origins and unravel the mysterious events that herald his emergence in the context of the today’s world.
Though cast-member Ken Watanabe grew up in Japan, he did not see the 1954 film until recently, and appreciated Edwards’ meticulous care to honor it. “The original ‘Godzilla’ weighs the provocative question that Japanese society was grappling with at the time—nine years after the bombs—when the emotional and physical scars were still very present,” the actor reflects. “Gareth has a deep understanding of that film, and I responded to his courage in reviving those ideas again.”
Borenstein wrote the screenplay, from a story by David Callaham, after immersing himself in research, which included taking in all 28 “Godzilla” movies produced by Toho Co., Ltd., encompassing the Showa, Heisei and Millennium series. “Our ambition was to treat this story as if this was a terrifying, real incident happening today, with all the gravity of a real disaster, while still making a big, spectacular monster movie that’s fun to watch,” Borenstein details. “The original film is an amazing tale of humanity’s insignificance in the face of nature, but with the human strength and resilience to rise and survive a disaster of that magnitude.”
Before a single frame of “Godzilla” had been shot, the director and producers created a 90-second teaser to express the mood they wanted to bring to the film, which they debuted at the annual Comic-Con International before nearly 7,000 screaming fans. The grainy footage revealed a city reduced to rubble, with the great creature materializing through the smoke and dust, and issuing his deafening roar. Over the imagery, Edwards played the haunting words of Robert Oppenheimer, “father” of the atomic bombs that reduced the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki to radioactive ash, quoting the Hindu scriptures to describe the incomprehensible Pandora’s Box they’d opened: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Godzilla has always had a mystery and duality about him—a being of pure instinct that moves not in concert with humanity, but towering over it as he rises implacably from the sea. “Monsters have always been metaphors for something else,” Edwards notes. “They represent the darker aspects of our nature and our fears of what we can’t control. In a way, Godzilla almost embodies a kind of ‘wrath of God’—not in a religious sense, but rather nature coming back to punish us for what we have done to the world. In our film, we are definitely tapping into those ideas.”
The Story And Characters
“Godzilla” unfolds across multiple continents and spans several decades, tracing the impact of a series of mysterious and catastrophic events through the eyes of a handful of people caught at the epicenter. “Our film doesn’t tell this story from an omnipotent perspective,” Tull explains. “In the midst of this crisis are people whose lives are irrevocably changed by it. These aren’t super heroes, but regular human beings caught in extreme circumstances, which made casting such a vital component of our film.”
In this spirit, Edwards wanted to populate the film with actors who could deliver a level of performance that brought truth to the characters’ extraordinary journeys. “In a film like this, you get one buy, which is that there are giant monsters in the world,” he says. “The rest has to be as believable as possible, which is one reason I feel incredibly lucky with this cast. They were able to take what was on the page, bring it to life, and create an emotional reality that helps you believe everything else.”
For the cast, the combination of a cinematic icon and Edwards’ vision for his epic rebirth made “Godzilla” an irresistible prospect. “When Gareth and I first talked about the film, he told me to forget that it was a big monster movie,” recalls Aaron Taylor-Johnson. “I loved what Godzilla meant to him, and that he wanted to bring him to the screen in a big disaster spectacle, but to tell the story with a high level of artistry and emotion. That’s what made me want to do this project, and Gareth made the experience incredibly special.”
The actor takes on the central role of Ford Brody, a Naval officer specializing in disarming bombs, who has just reunited with his wife and young son in San Francisco when he is called away to help his troubled father in Japan.
“Ford is the hero of our film and sees a lot of action,” Edwards comments. “And because so much of the storytelling is visual, it was critical that we understand what he’s thinking and feeling, so we needed an actor capable of communicating a lot in a single look. I’d seen ‘Nowhere Boy,’ in which Aaron played John Lennon, and it was such a soulful performance. There was so much intensity and emotion behind his eyes. I knew from that moment we’d found the guy.”
Ford’s expertise at disarming bombs draws him to the frontlines of humanity’s united defense against the greatest threat it has ever faced, but he's torn between duty and the need to find and protect his young family. “He’s the kind of specialist the military needs and it’s all hands on deck,” Taylor-Johnson explains. “At the same time, his mission is to get back to his family, and his work in the military becomes the only way he can maneuver himself closer to San Francisco. But it’s heartbreaking because he knows he might not make it home at all.”
Trapped in the city when Godzilla zeroes in on San Francisco is Ford’s wife, Elle Brody, played by Elizabeth Olsen. A nurse at a busy hospital, Elle is forced to make tough choices to both cope with the human toll of the disaster and to protect their four-year-old son, Sam, played by newcomer Carson Bolde. “Elle’s story is heroic in that she has a job to do, but she is also desperate to protect her own child,” Olsen details, adding, “Their story and Ford’s journey to try to get back to them is part of what I love about this film—how the value of family is at its core, and how moments of crisis bring out the courage and heroism that lies within everyone.”
For Edwards, her feel for the emotional material made her riveting to watch in the role. "Elizabeth has this documentary style to her performance—It just doesn’t feel like acting at all. With her, it was like doing some serious drama that just happened to have giant monsters in it."
Olsen got her first taste of the level of realism Edwards wanted to bring to the film when she first saw the evocative teaser piece he’d made. “Gareth’s approach to it is what hooked me, and how it reflected some of the imagery of disasters we’ve seen around the world,” she notes. “What Elle deals with in this film taps into what it’s like for the people caught in these kinds of events, and the lengths you’d go to in order to save the ones you love.”
This same impulse drives Ford throughout his journey, and Taylor-Johnson admits that even amid the film’s tremendous action, the physical demands of the role were trumped by the emotional challenges his character faces. “Ford is really put through the ringer over the course of the film, both internally and externally,” he says. “When we meet him, he’s a husband, father and son, and is trying to do all those things correctly under the weight of some serious emotional baggage. He has unresolved issues with his father, and his efforts to try to mend their relationship places him far from home when his family most needs him.”
Ford carries with him the weight of an incident from his childhood that tore his family apart 15 years earlier, when he lived with his parents in Japan. But the events leading up to that fateful day in 1999 originate farther south, in the Philippines, where the film begins.
A remote mine in a Philippine jungle collapses, revealing beneath it the fossilized, highly radioactive remains of something very big and very old. A pair of scientists from a secretive government organization, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Dr. Vivienne Graham, arrive on site to examine the bizarre relic.
Ken Watanabe plays Serizawa, a Japanese scientist who has devoted his life to the search for Godzilla and hopes to find in the cave evidence of the mythical creature’s existence. “His quest goes deeper than scientific curiosity,” Watanabe describes. “He is concerned about the kinds of terror that could exist in the world, and has his own theories about what he calls the ‘Alpha Predator’ and the role it plays on the planet.”
In the film, Godzilla’s origins are linked to an alternate take on recent history, a dark legacy that haunts Serizawa, who is both named for and inspired by a key character in the original Japanese film. “Dr. Serizawa is the scientist with the deepest insight into the creature, and Ken brought so much complexity and depth of feeling to this character,” Edwards says. “We used to joke when we were filming that no one’s got more different looks than Ken. He is such a fascinating actor to watch because you can see all of his internal thoughts on his face. When we were shooting, he would always do another look or take a breath or go to leave the room and you’re saying, 'Oh no, don’t stop, don’t stop.' The takes would just go on and on because you’d never want to yell 'cut.'"
Watanabe responded to Edwards’ desire to draw upon the thematic threads of the original within the context of the contemporary world. “I feel that Japan and, really, the entire world, are facing similar challenges today as we were at the time the first film was made,” Watanabe reflects. “Godzilla cannot be separated from the nuclear element, and serves as an urgent reminder that we have to look to the future and think about what kind of world we want to have. So, when I read the script, I was impressed that Gareth’s film maintains Godzilla’s connection to the consequences of trying to harness forces we barely understand.”
Sally Hawkins, who plays Serizawa’s colleague, Dr. Graham, adds that Edwards’ passion for the project illuminated every creative decision on set. “He had so much else to contend with, but really showed care towards the actors and the story, always emphasizing the need to keep the heart and truth in it.”
With all her scenes done in partnership with Watanabe, the two formed an immediate connection. “Graham and Serizawa are on this journey together because it is both their life’s work,” Hawkins shares. “When we meet them, you see that they’re almost telepathic in how they communicate. And I think Ken’s brilliant. He’s got such a presence, and working with him to convey their relationship was a real pleasure.”
As Graham and Serizawa move deeper through the mountain, they discover that the entire cave system once encased the carcass of a giant creature, but that it also held something else. And at its end, they are shocked to discover that the mountain has been blown out from within, giving way to a pulverized trench etched through the forest, leading straight to the ocean.
North through the East China Sea, a series of tremors rock the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant near the Tokyo district where Ford, played as a youth by CJ Adams, lives with his parents Sandra and Joe Brody, played by Juliette Binoche and Bryan Cranston. In 1999, both are scientists at the power plant, and the morning after tremors hit, his father is the first to raise alarm bells. Cranston details, “Joe is a nuclear engineer and very good at his job. He has detected anomalous sound patterns in these tremors that others are trying to write off as mere earthquakes, but his data doesn’t support that. He knows there’s something more here and wants the nuclear plant shut down, but nobody listens. And when they finally do, it’s too late. He’s a whistleblower in all the good ways that one can be, and that troublemaker streak follows him into the present.”
Though Cranston is best known for bringing to life the thrilling, tragic arc of Walter White on TV’s “Breaking Bad,” Edwards remembered him as the father in the series “Malcolm in the Middle” and envisioned him as Joe from the start. “I was an avid fan of that show. I think it’s often harder to be a good comedic actor than it is to be a good dramatic actor, and Bryan can nail the joke every time, but he’s also able to convey so much emotion in everything he does. So the whole time we were writing this part, Bryan was always Joe in my mind, and, fortunately, he said ‘yes.’”
For his part, Cranston, in spite of his stated affection for Godzilla movies, never imagined that he’d be in one. “But, as Gareth said to me, this film is different,” the actor relates. “It’s steeped in character, which makes the fantastic elements of the story more fulfilling because, as you follow these people through this adventure, you see good and bad decisions being made and relationships being pulled apart and brought together. All the elements of any good drama are here, wrapped up in big, epic monster movie.”
Juliette Binoche agrees, noting, “Monsters have an enormous power for catharsis. These stories help us to understand something about ourselves and to see our emotions on a big scale, and Gareth as a storyteller understands that instinctually. He’s a great talent, and I was thrilled to work with him on this film.”
Binoche’s character Sandra Brody is, like her husband Joe, also a dedicated scientist, but on the morning of the accident, Sandra’s instincts as a mother override all other considerations. “When the situation at the plant escalates into a crisis, she has to make a choice,” Binoche relates. “These situations can often be moments of total truth, and in that moment, her actions are driven by her love for her son and her husband.”
Fifteen years later, when Ford travels to Japan for his uneasy reunion with his father, he finds Joe still consumed with the accident that destroyed the plant and shattered his family. Cranston comments, “Joe has spent his life trying to unravel the mystery of what happened that day, but the greatest casualty of his obsession is his relationship with his son.”
Even as his son arrives to take him home, Joe is on the cusp of proving that the powerful forces that destroyed the Janjira Power Plant in 1999 are happening again, and that reports of leaking radiation are lies the government has concocted to hide the truth. With one last plea, he persuades Ford to venture back to their ruined home to retrieve evidence that the disaster was anything but natural. But after being ambushed by security forces, what they discover inside the quarantine zone is much worse.
Within the hollowed-out relic of Janjira itself, they are confronted with the enormity of the government’s secret: something has been feeding on the plant’s nuclear reactors, and after 15 years, it’s finally awake. Mary Parent remarks, “In our film, we introduce a destructive force that is, in some ways, a consequence of humanity’s hubris in the face of nature. And how that conflicts with Godzilla’s agenda is what draws us into a massive conflict that plays out against our planet.”
In the terrifying events that follow, Ford and Joe are swept away with Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham to the Navy vessel that will serve as a command center for the rapidly escalating crisis. Heading the multi-force tactical operation formed to defend the planet in the face of a terrifying new paradigm is Admiral Stenz, who tracks Godzilla across the Pacific toward the continental U.S.
Acclaimed actor David Strathairn, who plays Admiral William Stenz, offers, “No one on Earth has encountered anything of this magnitude before, so Stenz is a little out of his depth in postulating ways to deal with it. You can’t take down monsters with normal munitions, so what do you resort to? A nuclear device? That’s the military's last resort, but it ups the ante dramatically, and as the officer in charge of the joint task force, Stenz is strategically at odds with Serizawa.”
Strathairn relished exploring this philosophical conflict with Watanabe. “Serizawa is a very passionate and deeply committed scientist; he also carries deep sadness and fear about our arrogance as a species in the face of nature,” Strathairn observes. “Stenz has some very crucial decisions to make, which conflict with Serizawa’s ideas of how to resolve the situation, and Ken brought such grace to these very intense moments between them. Serizawa is the heart of this story’s compassion.”
Like his fellow cast members, Strathairn was impressed with Edwards’ acuity for capturing the human dimensions of the Godzilla story. “I feel that this film is basically about how we, as a fragile, too often environmentally irresponsible creature, respond to the symbol of Godzilla, a metaphorical construct for so many things that we are still working on as a species. Gareth had a monstrous task with this film, so to speak, and I'm really impressed by the way he’s held this franchise, this dinosaur, in his hands while still respecting and honoring the human aspect.”
After witnessing Godzilla’s earth-shattering entrance at the Honolulu Airport, Ford joins up with a military unit headed for the mainland, following a colossal wake of destruction through towns and cities that have been leveled by forces of unimaginable power and menace. Seizing his only chance to secure his family, Ford volunteers himself for what may end up being a suicide mission to plunge into the heart of a besieged San Francisco in a desperate bid to save the city from imminent nuclear annihilation.
With its skyscrapers shattered like broken toys, and its underground shelters overflowing with terrified refugees, the fragile human city has become a monster-sized arena where the Alpha Predator closes in on his malevolent prey, unleashing the full weight of his fury in an epic battle for dominance, with the future of humanity hanging in the balance.
“We made a choice about how to reveal Godzilla to the world in this film,” says Edwards. “It was a difficult choice, but it has to do with the question of whether Godzilla is good or bad. I think he represents something entirely different. It’s like asking if a hurricane is good or bad. Godzilla is a force of nature, but its more violent, unpredictable side. What he’s up against in our film very much represents our abuse of nature, so when Godzilla rises, it’s to set things right.”
Breathing New Life Into A 60-Year-Old Legend
For the filmmakers overseeing such a complex operation, there was perhaps nothing more challenging or exhilarating than the creation of its main event. “Toho had given us their blessing to re-envision the character, but it was equally important to us as well as Toho that Godzilla look like Godzilla,” Tull says. “We wanted to bring him into contemporary reality while not steering too far from the classic silhouette that so many of us grew up with, and Gareth and the entire team walked that line with passion and inspiration.”
The effort to make Godzilla live onscreen with as much detail and realism as possible engendered a broad coalition of creative minds, incorporating the talents of lead creature and concept designer Matt Allsopp, and Weta Workshop, Ltd.’s creature designers Andrew Baker, Christian Pearce and Greg Broadmore, as well as storyboard illustrators, keyframe animation and texture artists at Moving Picture Company (MPC), and specialists in sound, movement and performance, all unified through Edwards’ vision for the character.
“Everybody chipped in,” the director remembers. “What we were trying to find was what Godzilla would look like if you actually saw him in the real world. One of the conversations we’d have quite often was asking, ‘If this was a person, who would it be?’ And after thinking about it for a while, what we came up with was the idea that he was like the last Samurai—a lone, ancient warrior that would prefer to not be part of the world if he could, but events force him to resurface. We did lots of illustrations and concepts, and it took us over a year to really get it right.”
Standing 355-feet-tall—the largest of any big screen incarnation—Godzilla was conceived from the start as an entirely digital creation that would maintain the character’s classic form and identity. A bipedal, amphibious, radioactive leviathan with armored dorsal fins spiking menacingly all the way down to his long, sweeping tail, Godzilla belongs to the imagined species Godzillasaurus, which paleontologists have jokingly linked with the Tyrannosaurus Rex or Ceratosaurus families, only much larger.
The filmmakers’ efforts to capture the essence of Godzilla ultimately took them back to 1954—to the iconic latex suit designed by Toho’s Teizo Toshimitsu, which he built with Eizo Kaimai, Kanju Yagi and Yasue Yagi. Worn to great effect by actor Haruo Nakajima, the inspired costume was transformed through Ishiro Honda’s lens into a nuclear disaster made flesh, breathing a visible atomic blast upon a decimated Tokyo. Though these early effects were groundbreaking for their time, the filmmakers knew that 60 years later they had the tools to make Godzilla truly live.
“It was incredibly exciting to take inspiration from those early movies, but Gareth’s edict from the beginning was that everything we were creating had to look absolutely real,” confirms visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel. “You want to believe that there’s this 355-foot beast crashing through the streets of San Francisco.”
Early in production, Rygiel screened for the filmmakers the first complete tests of the creature in motion. “You heard this gasp go through the room,” Tull recalls. “Gareth and the visual effects team did an amazing job giving the character a level of detail and natural movement that wasn’t possible even five years ago. It felt almost like you were seeing Godzilla in the flesh for the first time.”
But beneath the skin, what has always set Godzilla apart is his unique persona and presence. “He has an amazing effect on people in that you’re both terrified and drawn to him, which is part of the reason the character has endured for so long,” says Mary Parent. “Godzilla is clearly a badass, but there’s also an innocence and an integrity to him. On a primal level, you never quite know what he’s going to do. At the same time, he’s also got very heroic elements, and that dichotomy is what makes him so interesting and compelling.”
Like his human co-stars, Godzilla’s soul is etched in his face. While the new incarnation hews closely to the dimensions of his short, steep skull, broad snout and carnivore’s mouth, to imbue it with a full range of expression in battle, the filmmakers studied the faces of dogs and bears, while also incorporating the nobility of an eagle.
To direct the character on the subtleties of performance, Edwards had a powerful assist from Rygiel’s “The Lord of the Rings” collaborator, performance capture pioneer Andy Serkis, who has brought his unique art form to digital characters like Gollum, Caesar and King Kong, and helped shape the title character’s emotional arc.
“At the start of the process, I felt that in some way we could decide and control who Godzilla was,” Edwards reflects, “but, as we went along, we started to realize that Godzilla was going to tell us who he was, just like actors who have their own take on their characters. We couldn’t totally dictate what it was going to be; it was more about just trying different ideas and permutations. And, slowly, he revealed himself to us."
The final element in the alchemy of Godzilla is not his look but his sound. Akira Ifukube, who composed the haunting score that accompanied Godzilla’s 1954 introduction to movie screens, had an idea to create the famous roar by taking a resin-covered leather glove and dragging it along the loosened strings of a double bass instrument, with the final effect being achieved by sound and musical effects designer Ichiro Minawa, using playback speed to personalize each utterance.
“Godzilla’s roar is not something you can fake or shortchange,” says Tull. “There is only one sound, and it is nearly impossible to recreate, no matter what you try.”
Long before production had even commenced, the filmmakers enlisted Oscar®-winning sound designers Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn (“Transformers”) to experiment with different techniques with the ultimate goal of recreating Godzilla’s chilling, heartrending roar, as well as a whole universe of sounds that would give the action a visceral, theatre-shaking feel. "If you imagined that Godzilla was real, then what we hear in the 1954 film is just what it sounds like on 1950s tapedecks,” Edwards describes. “We wanted to capture that live sound in its full power with all the fidelity we’re capable of today.”
The sound designers employed a variety of different techniques, even trying out a pine tar-coated leather glove on a double bass, to achieve the seemingly impossible. “That roar is probably the most famous sound effect in film history and we wanted to pay homage to it while creating something new," Aadahl says. “We wound up recording hundreds of different sounds that had the same qualities and timbres as the original and finally stumbled upon the combination that gave us all goose bumps. Ultimately, we wanted for it to convey all of the power and ferocity of Godzilla as a force nature, for people to close their eyes, hear it and instantly know, 'That’s Godzilla!'”
Breaking the original sound into three parts—a metallic shriek, followed by an earth-shattering wail and a bellowing finish—the sound designers conducted extensive experiments with a wide variety of sounds until they achieved a combination with all the texture and earth-shattering drama of Godzilla's original roar. Tull offers, “What they produced will send chills up your spine. It was the huge, awe-inspiring roar that Godzilla has always deserved.”
The film's plethora of otherworldly sound effects were recorded at a high resolution 192-kilohertz 192 kHz sample rate—beyond the range of human hearing—which they then slowed down to a range that's audible to the human ear. The "Godzilla" soundscape also encompassed realistic environments in which the story unfolds, and Aadahl and Van der Ryn traveled on location to record within tunnels and on aircraft carriers. "Gareth is a visionary and a perfectionist, and always pushed us to experiment and go farther," Van der Ryn remarks. "Working on ‘Godzilla’ was a truly special adventure that we all took together, and one of the best experiences of our career."
One of their goals was to bring Godzilla's roar into the real world, so the sound designers set up a 12-foot-high, boulevard-wide sound system on a street on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. Blasting the roar through 100,000-watt speakers lined in an array, they recorded the reverberations from a number of angles, such as inside cars, behind store windows, in alleyways. It not only rattled pipes and rooftops but could be heard up to three miles away.
In the animal kingdom, a roar can express a spectrum of emotions, but is perhaps most effectively used as an assertion of dominance when the Alpha Predator is threatened, “which definitely happens in our film,” Edwards hints. “In our story, Godzilla isn’t the one trying to destroy the world. He is completely unaware of our presence; we’re just like ants to him. But we do share a home, and our actions play a role in manifesting this enormous threat to the planet and to Godzilla himself. We wanted to build the ultimate nemesis for Godzilla, and hopefully, in the process, we’ve created something brand new for the audience.”
Capturing A Changed World
With a background in DIY filmmaking, Gareth Edwards plunged into the mammoth production with the same level of inspiration and resourcefulness he brought to his indie film “Monsters.” Gathering together artists whose work he’s long admired, the director found a team of inspired collaborators that both shared and enhanced his vision.
“When you get to make a movie like this, you can write a wish list of the best people in the world whom you’d like to work with, and I’ve been really lucky in that I got everybody at the top of my list,” he says. “All our department heads have changed cinema in their own way, and were all committed to making a profound, emotional, epic cinematic experience in the tradition of the films we grew up with. Those films are the reasons that we got into filmmaking in the first place. Everyone has been brilliant and incredibly supportive. This is my first big movie, and I kept asking, ‘Is this normal?’ It’s just been fantastic.”
Elizabeth Olsen notes that in spite of overseeing a huge cast, seven filming units and a 500-strong crew, Edwards never lost his cool. “He was able to talk to the actors about story, and then, because of his background, really command the technical aspects of the production with his crew. I think it’s a unique characteristic in a director who, on his first big film, was able to balance all of that and not get overwhelmed. His steady leadership and sense of calm really set a tone that helped everyone do their best work.”
Guiding the director was a desire to treat “Godzilla” as a story first. “It was really important to all of us that the audience cares about what’s going on and why, so I didn’t want it to just be spectacle after spectacle,” he explains. “Instead, the idea was to use some restraint to draw out the tension and suspense and really build up to that moment when we finally reveal Godzilla in all his glory for the first time.”
This approach informed every creative aspect of the film and helped carve out a visual language that brought verisimilitude to even its most jaw-dropping onscreen moments. “I don’t like putting a camera anywhere a camera can’t go, so I didn’t want to engineer any camera moves that would be impossible in real life,” Edwards says. “We shot some of the big monster scenes with the kinds of pans and effects you'd see in footage of a sporting event. Those cameramen aren’t psychic, so the footage is never perfect. They set up cameras where they think they will capture the best footage and be ready, and that’s the effect we were going for.”
Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey had seen Edwards’ first film when it played at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and was impressed at his eye for human interaction even amid extreme circumstances. “With ‘Godzilla,’ you’re dealing with a mythical monster, and what’s interesting visually is the juxtaposition of the tiny moments that people experience, and then pulling back to witness the scale of the great monster behind them,” McGarvey relates. “When you see a person against this 350-foot-tall creature, that clash of the micro and the mega, it draws your breath.”
To orchestrate the broad integration of live action and CGI elements, the entire film was mapped out using previsualization (previs), which helped guide editor Bob Ducsay in piecing together sequences, which often involved merging previs with completed shots. “It’s a very complicated movie, but it was great to watch it come together,” Ducsay remarks. “Gareth shoots a tremendous amount of film, which gives us the opportunity to bring a lot of nuance to the most complex sequences.”
The ever-evolving previs was also a vital tool for Edwards to communicate his vision to the entire filmmaking team. “Even watching the previs was edge-of-your-seat tension, and that doesn’t usually happen when you’re looking at rough, blocky animations,” Tull reveals. “There was this sense of foreboding and mystery that made us all really excited to see the finished film.”
Edwards also showed it to the actors prior to big sequences to guide their imaginations and help inform their choices when reacting to their absent mammoth co-star. And with cameras rolling, Edwards used a loudspeaker to narrate the action, like an announcer at a sporting event, often punctuated by an explosion rigged by special effects coordinator Joel Whist, or the roar they'd created for the full effect.
“I'd put the microphone against the iPod speaker, so all these roars would come out at the right times, and it was actually really effective," Edwards remembers. “You can really tell the difference, I think, between the takes where there was no sound being played on set and the ones where we had Godzilla’s roar blasting out, because there’s something really primal about it, and I think you can’t help but respond to that.”
With extensive stunts in the midst of the chaos—orchestrated by stunt coordinators John Stoneham, Jr. and Jake Mervine and 2nd Unit Stunt Coordinator Layton Morrison—the process was exhilarating for the actors. Aaron Taylor-Johnson observes, “Being in the midst of it, chaos is going on all around you, and the camera is right there in the middle of the action, so you have the same feeling watching it as you have experiencing it,” he describes. “The way Gareth is shooting this movie, you’re actually inside that car or on the top of that building, and it’s extraordinary to witness, even without special effects.”
Engineering the film’s alternately emotional, action-packed and haunting sequences using both available light sources and dark, atmospheric lighting design, McGarvey created another layer of visual contrasts by placing C Series anamorphic lenses from the 1970s on state-of-the-art Arri Alexa® digital cameras. “We are at the cutting edge of visual effects and digital cinematography with this film, but the idea was to make the technique invisible so that it won’t be heavy handed but have a vivid quality that will let an audience sense that what we’re seeing is really happening,” McGarvey shares. “We’re using older glass on modern cameras to replicate the classic flares and attributes that Gareth and I both love from the movies of the era. We consciously employed a lot of handheld in a very visceral way, almost as though the cameraman was witnessing these things live. At the same time, we’re shooting in anamorphic and have huge monster moments in the film, so it’s got the big CinemaScope feel you’d expect from a movie of this scale.”
“Godzilla” unfolds across two primary time frames: 1999 in Tokyo and the Philippines, and the present day. Production designer Owen Paterson relished capturing the motifs of different locations and eras that ran the gamut from normal life to total devastation. “We did a massive number of illustrations to concept out our environments, and then ultimately built and dressed nearly 100 sets—which is a lot for a single film—some of which were quite expansive. The idea was to make it both interesting visually and believable in terms of time and place.”
Costume designer Sharen Davis likewise turned to the film’s eras to create costumes that did not call attention to themselves but emerged naturally from the characters and their lives within the story. “We have a major military presence in this film, which involved sourcing or creating everything from 1950s officer attire to late ‘90s Japanese security personnel to the modern U.S. Army and Navy, and it was important to get it all right,” Davis confirms. “But what was equally fascinating was tracing the evolution of these characters. For example, Joe Brody goes through quite a dramatic change over 15 years. Every look in the film was designed not to stand out but to be part of the fabric of everyday life, the kinds of clothes that you sometimes see in news footage of ordinary people who suddenly find themselves in the midst of extraordinary events.”
Maintaining the illusion of the unimaginable pervading the everyday, Paterson designed and built the film’s diverse environments with an eye for what was most natural and real. “Gareth is introducing a very interesting way of telling a story like this,” he attests. “I think he would like to make us feel like a nature documentarian standing in the long grass in Africa watching a Rhinoceros feed, when suddenly it comes charging at you ... except with huge monsters. He’s a terrific storyteller, so it was great to try to create environments for him that felt true while also incorporating the existence of these rather exotic digital characters. He wanted to capture as much in-camera as possible, which translated into detailed sets with a foreground and a mid-ground that could then be extended or fused with visual effects to add scale and relevance.”
The director, who honed his visual effects acumen during his early years in British television, relished collaborating with visual effects pioneer Jim Rygiel, who brought Middle-earth to life in “The Lord of the Rings” films. He also got the opportunity to work on some additional visual effects with John Dykstra, whose legend in the industry goes all the back to “Star Wars.”
“Gareth knows how to create 3D monsters on his laptop, which made my job easier and a lot of fun,” says Rygiel. “With other projects I might have thrown up green screen everywhere, but Gareth wanted to shoot entirely against black to better relate to Seamus’ atmospheric cinematography. Visual effects people hate smoke and dust because we have to paint it all out and put it back in, but when you look at the finished shot, you feel the depth and layers, rather than seeing everything clearly in a brightly lit scene.”
The film’s visual effects demands were split among two effects houses, with the London-based Double Negative enhancing environments, and Canada’s Moving Picture Company handling the creature work. The challenge lay in creating seamless, believable interaction among the digital elements and the real world. Rygiel states, “In our film, we have big monster battles, the destruction of cities, a tsunami, intense military operations, and many unusual elements, and each component had to be absolutely based in reality.”
The final element was the film’s score, which Edwards began conceptualizing prior to enlisting Alexandre Desplat to compose it. “When you work on a film like this, the most inspiring thing to draw on is music,” Edwards says. “The first thing I ever do is create a playlist on my phone with the soundtracks that I’ve loved that I think have the right tone and quality for this film, the haunting emotion of the movie, as well as the sinister horror and darkness that was going to come into play, and Alexandre definitely got a high score.”
Having seen “Monsters,” Desplat appreciated Edwards’ focus on the emotional underpinnings of the characters amid the spectacle, a sensibility that ultimately informed his score for “Godzilla.” “Even though there’s danger, you only share the danger if you empathize with the characters,” the composer states. “With ‘Godzilla,’ what was important to me was emphasizing the great sense of loss surrounding Ford and Joe from the beginning of the film, and that we still feel the trembling of that moment as we follow these broken souls into the present.”
With the great force of Godzilla propelling the action, Desplat also relished the opportunity to make a big sonic impact with the music as he recorded the final score with the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. “I’ve never done a monster movie before, so coming to this with more than a hundred musicians—double brass, double horns—allowed me to open the frame of my imagination to another territory, and that’s very exciting,” Desplat describes. “Gareth is very sensitive to music and that was fantastic for me. When I played back music for him in my studio, I could see him watching the images and listening at the same time. I tried to always keep the tension high, but the trick was knowing when to release the pressure. For example, a scene of people in the streets can be very mundane. Nothing is happening, but instead of letting the tension slip away, you keep it going. That structure is something I tailored with Gareth as the movie and the score were taking shape, so there’s a great sense of continuity between what you’re seeing and hearing.”
The director marvels, “Alexandre is a bit of a hero of mine musically, and the score he created for this film is just stunning. I’m really excited. I can’t quite believe not only that Alexandre composed the ‘Godzilla’ soundtrack, he’s done my soundtrack. It’s the most amazing gift I think I’ll ever get.”
Godzilla Makes Landfall
Like the title character, the story told in the film begins in Japan. “That’s the birthplace of Godzilla, so we thought it would be an appropriate place to begin our story, which takes us half-way around the world, ultimately reaching San Francisco, where the big battle plays out,” Tull says.
The film was shot on location on the Hawaiian island of Oahu; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Vancouver, B.C., in Canada, with additional shooting in San Diego, California, and Tokyo, Japan. Paterson and his art department—led by supervising art director Grant Van Der Slagt, along with art directors Dan Hermansen, Ross Dempster and Kristen Franson, and set decorator Elizabeth Wilcox—designed and created complex, detailed interior and exterior sets on soundstages and backlot space at the Canadian Motion Picture Park (CMPP), in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.
One of the first sequences to be shot was at the Vancouver Convention Center, with the cavernous structure transformed into both the Honolulu and Tokyo International Airports.
A number of key Canadian locales became ground zero for some of the film’s most dramatic scenes of devastation. “A giant creature is never going to come and smash up our cities, but probably every human being on this planet has either lived through events that create that kind of destruction or seen their effects on TV,” Edwards notes.
The streets of downtown Vancouver were transformed into San Francisco’s besieged financial district for a number of evocative sequences. Elizabeth Olsen was present for one such scene, which placed her among a flood of refugees fleeing in terror from the monster-sized clash tearing up their city. “One of the coolest experiences for me was being a part of these scenes of people trying to find their way to safety,” Olsen remembers. “I was part of this massive group of people all going in the same direction. I had never been involved in a scene with so many extras before, but there’s something about being a part of a body of people that hits you at a primal level. It felt very real in the context of what’s going on in the scene.”
San Francisco was also pieced together on the backlot at CMPP. On one backlot set, Paterson redesigned an existing cityscape set to portray a small Chinatown street, and also built the entrance to a giant sinkhole beneath Chinatown, which is Ford’s target when he plunges with a HALO [High Altitude - Low Opening] team into the city.
The chaotic sinkhole set itself, which Edwards called the “Dragon’s Den,” was built inside a soundstage, and dressed to overflow with crashed cars, chunks of buildings and other debris. After shooting was completed on this sequence, the set was repurposed to portray the massive cavern beneath the collapsed Philippine mine where scientists Graham and Serizawa gain their first insight that something massive and unknown has been released into the world. “We discover that this cave isn’t really a natural cave—it’s a giant ribcage, with bones that loom 25 feet in the air,” Paterson describes. “It’s a good place to start the story, in a sense. The genie has been let out of the bottle.”
“That set was beyond amazing, just extraordinary,” raves Sally Hawkins. “Even though we were working with some green screen, a lot of the time we didn’t have to imagine anything. It was there. We were inside this giant structure, and the detail was phenomenal. It made it very easy for the cast to have these incredible worlds for you to step onto.”
Edwards observes that shooting both sequences within the same soundstage reflects some of the symmetry woven into the film’s DNA. “What Graham and Serizawa observe within the giant ribcage at the beginning of the film, and what Ford sees in the Dragon’s Den near the end are linked in the story,” he says. “So in a way, it felt like going full circle.”
Another exterior set Paterson built on the CMPP backlot was a 400-foot stretch of the 8,980-foot-long Golden Gate Bridge, where Edwards, aided by veteran second unit director E.J. Foerster, staged some of the film’s exciting climactic moments, with the city’s famous skyline looming in the background.
To achieve this effect, Rygiel dispatched teams to the tops of some of San Francisco’s skyscrapers to shoot high-end panoramas from multiple angles that took in the entire 360 degrees of the skyline, which, using photogrammetry, they were able to merge into a 3D city. “This technique gives you a real city that is accurate down to every piece of mortar in a brick building,” he says. “So, using that, we were able to composite the live action shots with the keyframe-animated monsters destroying digital buildings into a seamless whole.”
Another key site for the production was Finn Slough, a century-old unincorporated Finnish fishing settlement along the Fraser River in Richmond, B.C. Now nearly abandoned, Finn Slough’s few residents live in crumbling wooden shacks, both floating and built on stilts, along the marshy river bank. Edwards used the unique site, as well as pockets of New Westminster dressed to appear reclaimed by nature, to portray the Tokyo quarantine zone Ford ventures into with his father to locate his childhood home.
Two other significant Vancouver locations were chosen to portray the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant: the abandoned and decayed Catalyst paper mill for the exteriors; and the Annacis Island wastewater treatment facility south of Vancouver for its interiors, augmented by an evocative soundstage set of the nuclear chambers.
Other Vancouver locations included the banks of Lake Alouette in Golden Ears Provincial Park, where Edwards staged a helicopter rescue amidst a landscape of destruction; and the boat docks of Steveston, Vancouver, which became San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf.
Once the Canadian portion of production concluded, the company shipped off to the most populous of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu, to shoot a variety of locations, from Waikiki Beach to a rock quarry that provided the entrance to the collapsed mine.
To capture shots for the film's main title sequence, production traveled to the Windward (or East) side of Oahu to recreate a Pacific Atoll where hydrogen bomb tests were conducted in the early 1950s and, in fact, resulted in a tragic loss of life the same year the original “Godzilla” was released.
The company next touched down on a part of existing World War II history at Pearl Harbor, which serves as both a working naval base and a somber memorial for those lost in the event that precipitated America’s entry into war. Here, Edwards staged three scenes onboard the USS Missouri, with the historic “floating memorial” standing in for the massive USS Saratoga battleship that tracks Godzilla across the Pacific. Moving to the adjacent Hickam Air Force Base, Edwards shot Aaron Taylor-Johnson within an actual C-17 aircraft to depict the moments just prior to his HALO plunge into San Francisco.
James D. Dever, the film’s military technical advisor, had participated in HALO jumps, and worked with HALO Jump stunt coordinator JT Holmes to bring the highest degree of authenticity to the dramatic free fall. “The stunt performers were HALO-trained and did an outstanding job,” Dever says. “In this movie, you’ll see the Air Force moving ICBM missiles, the Navy running an aircraft carrier, and a lot of moving parts from Huey helicopters, destroyers and flying F-35s. My job was to make sure it was all accurately represented.”
In addition to consulting on military arcana, such as chain of command, terminology, gear, weapons, and environments, Dever also liaised with the Department of Defense to help secure the film’s array of military assets, as well as a full complement of U.S. and Canadian servicemen to portray the majority of forces seen in the film. “It turns out that a lot of people in the Department of Defense are massive Godzilla fans too,” Edwards smiles, “and I think they got a kick out of participating in this movie.”
A retired Sergeant Major in the U.S. Marine Corps, Dever also worked with Aaron Taylor-Johnson to ensure his Navy bearing was up to snuff. “I had three days of working in boot camp with him, teaching him how to use his weapon, how to put his gear on, how to move and present himself as an officer in the U.S. Navy,” Dever says. “And Aaron was like a sponge for information because he wanted to get it right, and he did. It was a pleasure working with him.”
The production also took over a stretch of the popular Waikiki Beachfront for two days to complete sequences tied to the arrival of a tsunami that destroys one of the beach’s most recognizable landmarks, the Hilton Rainbow Tower. The production accomplished the near-impossible by closing Waikiki’s most popular commercial shopping strip, Lewers Street, for fifteen hours to capture footage of hundreds of extras fleeing the giant wave.
“Our intentions with this environment and all the scenes of devastation in the film was absolute reality,” says Paterson. “Gareth wanted the sets to feel so real that people would walk out of the cinema after seeing the movie and actually not expect to see buildings still standing.”
“It’s that much more thrilling, intense and ultimately, I think, a more satisfying movie experience if you believe it,” adds Parent. “Godzilla deserves to have his story told within a movie that’s worthy, and Gareth was able to put together a group of people at the top of their game with the skills and artistry to do it in a way that has never been seen before. It’s a good match, and gives you a front row seat for an epic adventure, with the iconic Godzilla at the center of it.”
Says Rogers, “I am so proud to be a part of the talented team responsible for bringing Godzilla back in time for his 60th anniversary, and re-introducing him to all the faithful fans of the franchise, along with all the new audiences that have not yet experienced meeting the ‘King of the Monsters.’”
“Observing scenes being shot on set or watching dailies doesn’t really compare to watching considered, cut sequences that absolutely verify that your filmmaker has achieved a certain tone, scale and quality,” Jashni observes. “I remember sitting in the editing room and watching Gareth show us a sampler of four or five sequences early on and realizing he had ‘done it’—he had somehow made this movie his own. I felt excited for him and for us, as he was clearly well on his way to achieving what we'd all aspired to.”
“Those of us that grew up on Godzilla feel so much affection and nostalgia for this character that we can’t wait to see him stomping across cinema screens again,” says Tull. “The first movie came out 60 years ago. That’s a long time for a fan base to continue to grow, and now there’s a whole new generation that hasn’t really had its Godzilla. So, our hope is that we give existing fans and this new generation the movie they’ve been waiting for.”
With the culmination of his own epic journey to deliver on that promise, Edwards likens the experience to the moment when the film’s central character, Ford, finally locks eyes on the legendary dinosaur. “Before I started, there was this ominous and intimidating threat hanging over me,” he reflects. “But then, towards the end of the process of making the movie, I started to realize that Godzilla has become my savior. I had the benefit of a lot of incredibly talented people that worked all hours to deliver this thing and make it look flawless, and they did it. I’m so proud to have directed this film. If I were going to be known for a genre, I’d happily be trapped in the world of monsters, and there’s no better monster in the world than Godzilla.”
About The Cast
AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON (Ford Brody) is currently working on Joss Whedon’s action adventure “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” in which he joins the super hero ensemble as Quicksilver. The film is slated for release in 2015.
Taylor-Johnson came to prominence in the title role of Sam Taylor-Wood’s 2009 feature “Nowhere Boy,” portraying future Beatle John Lennon during the musician’s turbulent teenage years. His riveting performance earned him a London Critics’ Circle Film Award nomination for Young British Performer of the Year, a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor, and the Empire Award for Best Newcomer. Screen International also named the young actor as one of its “Stars of Tomorrow.”
Taylor-Johnson followed this triumph the following year, starring in Matthew Vaughn’s hit movie “Kick-Ass,” for which he earned another Empire Award nomination, this time for Best Actor. Based on the Mark Millar comic, the film also starred Nicolas Cage, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The director and cast reteamed for the sequel, “Kick-Ass 2,” which hit theaters in the summer of 2013.
His recent film work also includes starring roles in Oliver Stone’s “Savages”; Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” with Keira Knightley and Jude Law; and Rodrigo Garcia’s “Albert Nobbs,” alongside Glenn Close. His earlier credits include Shana Feste’s “The Greatest,” Neil Burger’s “The Illusionist,” Richard Claus’s “The Thief Lord,” and David Dobkin’s “Shanghai Knights,” with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
He also appeared on several British television series, including “Feather Boy,” “Family Business,” “Nearly Famous” and “Talk to Me.” He was also seen in such telefilms as “Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars,” “The Best Man” and “The Apocalypse.”
Born in the UK, Taylor-Johnson began acting professionally at the age of six and attended the prestigious Jackie Palmer Stage School. His early theatre work includes playing the son of Macduff in the 1999 West End presentation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” starring Rufus Sewell, and the National Theatre staging of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” in 2000.
KEN WATANABE (Dr. Ishiro Serizawa) made his American film debut in Edward Zwick’s “The Last Samurai,” opposite Tom Cruise, for which Watanabe received Oscar®, Screen Actors Guild Award®, Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globe Award nominations. Since then, the actor has collaborated with some of most significant filmmakers of our time. In 2006, Watanabe portrayed the courageous Japanese General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in Clint Eastwood’s award-winning World War II drama “Letters from Iwo Jima.” Watanabe first worked with director Christopher Nolan on the 2005 blockbuster “Batman Begins,” and subsequently on “Inception.” For Rob Marshall, Watanabe starred in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” the lush screen adaptation of Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel.
Later this year, Watanabe begins work on “Sea of Trees” for director Gus Van Sant. “Sea of Trees” is the story of a suicidal American (Matthew McConaughey) who befriends a Japanese man (Watanabe) lost in a forest near Mt. Fuji. At the end of the year, Watanabe stars with Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s acclaimed novel “Silence.” Set in the 17th century, “Silence” follows two Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity.
Last year, Watanabe starred in, and received a Japanese Academy Award nomination for, “Yurusarezaru mono,” Sang-il Lee’s Japanese language remake of Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.”
In 2006, Watanabe starred in and executive produced the Japanese film “Memories of Tomorrow,” for which he won a number of Best Actor awards, including the Japanese Academy Award and the Hochi Film Award. In 2009, he starred in“Shizumano Taiyô (The Unbroken),” for which he won his second Japanese Academy Award, as well as the Hochi Film Award for Best Actor. His Japanese film credits also include the international hit comedy “Tampopo,” directed by Juzo Itami, as well as “Ikebukuro West Gate Park,” “Space Travelers,” “Oboreru Sakana (Drowning Fish)” and “Shin Jinginaki Tatakai/Bosatsu (Fight Without Loyalty/Murder),” an updated version of the popular Yakuza movie series.
Watanabe began his acting career with the Tokyo-based theater company En. His lead performance in the company’s production of “Shimoya Mannen-cho Monogatari,” directed by Yukio Ninawara, caught the attention of both critics and Japanese audiences. In 1982, Watanabe made his television debut with “Michinaru Hanran.” His formidable screen presence in the subsequent Samurai drama series “Dokuganryu Masamume” led to additional roles in the historical series “Oda Nobunaga” and “Chushingura,” and the film “Bakumatsu Junjou Den.”
Last year, Watanabe returned to the Tokyo and Osaka stages in the comedy "Dialogue with Horowitz" by Koki Mitani. The critically acclaimed productions were sold out and later broadcast on television.
ELIZABETH OLSEN (Elle Brody) follows “Godzilla” with a starring role in Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” in which she joins the team as the Scarlett Witch. The action adventure is slated for release on May 1, 2015.
This year, Olsen co-starred with Jessica Lange and Oscar Issac in the thriller “In Secret.” The film is set in the lower echelons of 1860s Paris and centers on Therese Raquin, a beautiful, sexually repressed young woman, who is trapped into a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille, by her domineering aunt, Madame Raquin. The film was released in limited theaters on February 21, 2014. “In Secret” also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013.
In 2013, Olsen appeared in three very diverse independent film projects. She co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson and James Brolin in Spike Lee’s thriller “Old Boy,” which was released in theaters on November 27, 2013. Olsen also starred in two films that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival: “Kill Your Darlings,” a biographical drama set in the early days of Beat Generation legends Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster); and “Very Good Girls,” with Dakota Fanning.
Olsen was also seen in two films that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival: “Liberal Arts,” written and directed by Josh Radnor, who also starred with Olsen, Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney in the film; and the thriller “Red Lights,” with Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver.
Olsen’s breakout came in the title role of the acclaimed indie feature “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” which was an Un Certain Regard selection at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Her performance as a young woman who escapes from an abusive cult brought her Independent Spirit Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for Best Actress. She was also named Best Actress by a number of critics’ organizations, in addition to winning Breakthrough Awards from the Chicago Film Critics and several others. Also in 2011, she starred in the independent film “Silent House,” a re-imagining of the Uruguayan psychological horror thriller “La Casa Muda.”
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Olsen also had formal training at the Atlantic Acting School and the Moscow Art Theatre School. While attending NYU, she understudied both in the off-Broadway play “Dust” and the Broadway play “Impressionism.” Last fall, Olsen kicked off the Classic Stage Company’s 2013-2014 season, starring as Juliet in their critically acclaimed off-Broadway presentation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
JULIETTE BINOCHE (Sandra Brody) is an Academy Award®-winning actress who has been recognized internationally for her work on the screen. She has the distinction of being the only person to win Best Actress honors at all three of Europe’s premier film festivals, most recently including the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for “Certified Copy.” She previously won both the Volpi Cup and Pasinetti Award for “Three Colors: Blue” at the 1993 Venice Film Festival, and the Silver Bear at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival for Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient.”
Binoche won her Oscar®, for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance in “The English Patient, for which she also won a BAFTA Award, a European Film Award and a National Board of Review Award. In addition, she garnered Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations in the same category, and a second SAG Award® nod as part of the nominated cast.
In 2001, she received a second Oscar® nomination, for Best Actress, for her role in Lasse Hallström’s “Chocolate,” for which she also gained Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations, as well as two more SAG Award nods, one for Best Lead Actress and another shared with the ensemble cast. She later received another European Film Award nomination for her performance in Michael Haneke’s “Caché” (“Hidden”) and a British Independent Film Award nomination for 2006’s “Breaking and Entering,” which reunited her with Minghella.
In her native France, Binoche won a Best Actress Cesar Award for her performance in “Three Colors: Blue,” which is part of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s trilogy, also including “Red” and “White.” She has received seven more Cesar Award nominations for her leading roles in André Téchiné’s “Rendez-vous”; the Leos Carax-directed films “Mauvais sang” (“Bad Blood”) and “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf” (“The Lovers on the Bridge”); Louis Malle’s “Damage”; Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s “Le hussard sur le toit” (“The Horseman on the Roof”; Patrice Leconte’s “La veuve de Saint-Pierre” (“The Widow of Saint-Pierre”); and Danièle Thompson’s “Décalage horaire” (“Jet Lag”).
Among her more recent credits are the French-language films “Camille Claudel, 1915,” “A Coeur Ouvert” (“An Open Heart”) and “La vie d'une autre” (“Another Woman’s Life”). Binoche’s long list of film credits also includes David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis”; Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours” and “Paris, je t’aime”; “Dan in Real Life”; Abel Ferrara’s “Mary”; Abel Ferrara’s “Mary”; “Bee Season,” with Richard Gere; John Boorman’s “In My Country”; Haneke’s “Code Unknown”; Diane Kurys’ “The Children of the Century”; Téchiné’s “Alice and Martin”; “Wuthering Heights,” opposite Ralph Fiennes; Philip Kaufman’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”; and Jean-Luc Godard’s “Hail Mary.”
She reunited with Olivier Assayas on the upcoming “Clouds of Sils Maria,” and recently finished filming “The 33,” for director Patricia Riggen, which is based on the events surrounding the collapsed Copiapo copper mine in Chile.
Born in Paris, Binoche embarked on her stage career after studying at Paris’ Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique. She has frequently returned to the theatre, where her credits include the 1988 production of Chekov’s “The Seagull,” directed by Andrei Konchalovsky at the Théâtre de l’Odéon in Paris; “Naked,” at the Almeida Theatre in London; the 2012 modernized version of August Strindberg's “Miss Julie,” at London's Barbican; and Akram Khan’s 2008 dance-drama piece “in-I,” at the Royal National Theatre in London. She made her Broadway debut in Harold Pinter's “Betrayal,” for which she earned a 2001 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress.
SALLY HAWKINS (Graham) received an Oscar® nomination earlier this year for her work in Woody Allen’s hit “Blue Jasmine.” Her performance as Ginger, the sister of the title character, played by Cate Blanchett, also brought her Golden Globe, BAFTA Award, Empire Award, and Independent Spirit Award nominations.
She first gained international attention for her portrayal of the optimistic Poppy in Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky,” for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical, an Evening Standard Award, and the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. In addition, she was named Best Actress by the New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and National Society of Film Critics, among others, and won the Hollywood Breakthrough Award at the 2008 Hollywood Film Festival. She also received British Independent Film Award, Empire Award and European Film Award nominations for her work on the film.
Hawkins had made her feature film in 2002 in Mike Leigh’s “All or Nothing,” and then reunited with the director for “Vera Drake.” Her subsequent film credits include Matthew Vaughan's “Layer Cake,” John Curran’s “The Painted Veil,” Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream,” and Lone Scherfig's “An Education.” She received consecutive British Independent Film Award nominations, in 2010 and 2011, for her roles in Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham” and Richard Ayoade's “Submarine.” Her credits also include Cary Fukunaga's “Jane Eyre,” Mike Newell's “Great Expectations,” and the holiday film “All is Bright,” with Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti. Upcoming, she stars in “Paddington” and “X Plus Y.”
On the small screen, her performance as Anne Elliott in the ITV production of Jane Austen's “Persuasion” brought her Best Actress Awards from the 2007 Monte Carlo TV Festival and the Royal Television Society. Her television work also includes leading roles in “Tipping the Velvet”; David Yates’ “The Young Visiters”; “Byron,” in which she played Mary Shelley; “Fingersmith”; Simon Curtis’s “20,000 Streets Under the Sky”; and Marc Munden’s “Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole In My Heart.” She also starred in two seasons of the BBC’s comedy series “Little Britain.”
Born in London, Hawkins trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and is an accomplished stage actress. In 2012, she received rave reviews for her performance in Nick Payne's two-character play, “Constellations,” at the Royal Court in London’s West End. She was previously seen at the Royal Court in “The Winterling,” directed by Ian Rickson, and “Country Music,” directed by Gordon Anderson Her West End credits also include the Howard Davis production of ”House of Bernarda Alba,” at the National Theatre. She has also been seen in productions of such plays as “The Way Of The World,” “Misconceptions,” “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Perpalas,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “The Dybbuk,” “Accidental Death Of An Anarchist,” “Svejk,” “The Whore Of Babylon,” and “As You Like It.”
DAVID STRATHAIRN (Adm. William Stenz) earned an Academy Award® nomination for his performance in George Clooney’s acclaimed drama, “Good Night, and Good Luck.” His portrayal of legendary news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow in the film also brought him the Volpi Cup at the 2005 Venice Film Festival, as well as Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®, BAFTA Award, Independent Spirit Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations. Additionally, the cast of “Good Night, and Good Luck.” received a SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast. Strathairn has shared in two more SAG Award® nominations in the same category, for Curtis Hanson’s “L.A. Confidential” and, most recently, for Steven Spielberg’s epic 2012 biopic “Lincoln.”
He has enjoyed a long association with director John Sayles, whom he met when they were students together at Williams College in Massachusetts. Their first film was “The Return of the Secaucus Seven,” which marked Sayles’ directing debut and Strathairn’s feature film debut. Strathairn later won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Sayles’ “City of Hope,” and also garnered Spirit Award nominations for his work in “Passion Fish” and “Limbo.” They have also collaborated on “The Brother from Another Planet,” “Matewan” and “Eight Men Out.”
Strathairn has more than 70 other films to his credit, including a wide range of both major studio releases and independent features. He has starred in two installments of the “Bourne” action franchise, Paul Greengrass’ “The Bourne Ultimatum” and Tony Gilroy’s “The Bourne Legacy.” His recent film work also includes “The Whistleblower,” Julie Taymor’s screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “The Uninvited” and Mark Waters’ “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” Also counted among his many diverse credits are “Fracture,” with Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling; “We are Marshall”; “The Notorious Bettie Page”; Philip Kaufman’s “Twisted”; “Harrison’s Flowers”; “A Map of the World”; Michael Hoffman’s screen version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; “Simon Birch”; Jodie Foster’s “Home for the Holidays,” joining an all-star cast; Taylor Hackford’s “Dolores Claiborne”; Curtis Hanson’s “The River Wild”; Sydney Pollack’s “The Firm”; Phil Alden Robinson’s “Sneakers”; and Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own.”
On the small screen, Strathairn won an Emmy Award and received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the 2010 HBO biopic “Temple Grandin.” He gained a second Emmy nomination in 2012 for his work in the HBO movie “Hemingway & Gelhorn,” directed by Philip Kaufman. His previous television work includes a recurring role on “The Sopranos” and such longform projects as “Paradise,” “Lathe of Heaven,” “The Miracle Worker,” “Freedom Song,” Christopher Reeve’s “In the Gloaming,” “The American Clock,” “O Pioneers!,” “Son of the Morning Star” and “Judgment.” He also starred on the series “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.”
Strathairn has also maintained a high profile in the theatre world, recently returning to Broadway to star with Jessica Chastain in “The Heiress.” He had made his Broadway debut in 1981 in “Einstein and the Polar Bear,” and went on to star in the plays “The Three Sisters,” “Dance of Death” and Salome.” He has also been seen on the stages of such venues as the Manhattan Theatre Club, the New York Shakespeare Festival, SoHo Rep, the Hartford Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Seattle Repertory.
BRYAN CRANSTON (Joe Brody) won three consecutive Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” giving him the honor of being only the second actor in history, and the first on a cable series, to win three Best Actor Emmys in a row. For his portrayal of anti-hero Walter White on the series, Cranston has also been honored with two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards® and a Golden Globe, as well as additional Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations. He also shared in a SAG Award in the category of Outstanding Drama Series Ensemble and was honored by the Television Critics Association.
Cranston is currently making his Broadway debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in “All the Way,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan. The play depicts the early period of LBJ’s presidency and his relationship with key political figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr., J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Richard Russell. Cranston received rave reviews for his performance, which just finished a sold out run at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On the big screen, Cranston recently essayed the role of CIA operative Jack O’Donnell, in Ben Affleck’s Oscar®-winning Best Picture “Argo,” for which he shared in a SAG Award® for Outstanding Motion Picture Ensemble. He will next begin production on Jay Roach’s “Trumbo,” playing the title role of Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters whose career came to an end when he was blacklisted in the 1940s for being a communist.
Last year, Cranston was heard as the voice of Vitality in “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” and will next voice a character in DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda 3.” His long list of film credits includes Len Wiseman’s remake of “Total Recall”; Adam Shankman’s “Rock of Ages”; Nicolas Winding Refn’s critically acclaimed “Drive,” opposite Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan; as well as “Contagion,” “John Carter of Mars,” “Larry Crowne,” “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Seeing Other People,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “That Thing You Do!”
Born to a show business family and raised in Southern California, Cranston made his acting debut at the age of eight in a United Way commercial. It wasn’t until he finished college that acting became a serious consideration. While on a cross-country motorcycle trip with his brother, he discovered community theater and began exploring every aspect of the stage. Soon, he was cast in a summer stock company.
Cranston returned to Los Angeles and quickly landed a role on the television movie “Love Without End,” which led to his being signed as an original cast member of ABC’s “Loving.” He went on to appear in numerous television roles, including a seven-year run as Hal on FOX’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and three Emmy awards; the recurring role of dentist Tim Whatley on “Seinfeld”; as Buzz Aldrin in HBO’s acclaimed miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon; and in the telefilm “I Know My First Name is Steven,” among others.
Cranston is also enjoying success behind the camera, as a director, writer and producer. He has earned three Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award nominations, the first for an episode of “Modern Family,” followed by dual nods this year, for episodes of “Modern Family” and “Breaking Bad.” As a producer on “Breaking Bad,” he also won Emmy and Producers Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Drama Series.
He previously wrote, directed and starred in the original romantic drama “Last Chance” as a birthday gift for his wife, Robin Dearden, and also directed several episodes of “Malcolm in the Middle” and the Comedy Central pilot “Special Unit.” In 2011, Cranston served as executive producer of an exclusive online series called “The Handlers” for Atom.com, in which he also starred as Jack Powers, a politician campaigning for a seat in the State Senate.
Cranston continues to pursue his love for theater whenever possible. His credits on stage include “The God of Hell,” “Chapter Two,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “A Doll’s House,” “Eastern Standard,” “Wrestlers,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Steven Weed Show,” for which he won a Drama-Logue Award.
Additionally, Cranston produced an instructional DVD called KidSmartz, which is designed to educate families on how to stay safe from child abduction and Internet predators. KidSmartz raises money for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
About The Filmmakers
GARETH EDWARDS (Director) marks his second feature following the critically acclaimed 2010 independent film “Monsters.”
Edwards hails from Nuneaton, a small town in the middle of England, where, from the age of six, he was determined to become a film director. For his university graduation project, his was one of the first student films to combine live action with digital effects. Understanding the influence of computer graphics on the creative process of filmmaking, Edwards began a ten-year career as a visual effects artist working from his bedroom for BBC documentaries like “Hiroshima,” for which he won a BAFTA Award.
His visual effects skills led to directing the epic drama “Heroes and Villains: Attila the Hun” for the BBC, personally creating all 250 visual effects for the project. He then entered Sci-Fi London’s 48-hour film contest, answering the challenge of making a short film with no crew and just one actor in only two days. The result, “Factory Farmed,” won first prize.
Inspired by this guerilla approach to filmmaking, Edwards went on to make “Monsters,” a sci-fi thriller about an alien attack on Earth and its effect on a cynical American journalist, played by Scoot McNairy. With just a minimal crew, he served as writer, director, cinematographer and completed all the creature design and visual effect shots himself.
For “Monsters,” Edwards garnered a BAFTA Award nomination for Outstanding Debut for a British Director or Producer; won three British Independent Film Awards, including Best Director and Best Technical Achievement, for the film’s effects; an Evening Standard Film Award for Best Technical/Artistic Achievement, for the film’s cinematography, production design and VFX; the London Film Critics Circle honor as Breakthrough British Filmmaker; and the Austin Film Critics Award for Best First Film. The movie itself won the National Board of Review Award as Top Independent Film and the Saturn Award as Best International Film from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
The success of “Monsters” drew the attention of Hollywood, leading to the opportunity to direct the epic rebirth of “Godzilla.”
THOMAS TULL (Producer) is Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures and has achieved great success in the co-production and co-financing of event movies. Since its inception in 2004, Legendary Pictures, a division of leading media company Legendary Entertainment with film, television and digital and publishing divisions, has teamed with Warner Bros. Pictures on a wide range of theatrical features.
The many hits released under their joint banner recently include Zack Snyder’s worldwide hit “Man of Steel”; and Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster “Dark Knight” Trilogy, which kicked off with “Batman Begins,” followed by the billion-dollar blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” which earned more than a billion dollars at the global box office.
This highly successful partnership also produced such films as Zack Snyder’s “300” and “Watchmen” and “300: Rise of an Empire,” which Snyder produced; Ben Affleck’s “The Town”; Nolan’s award-winning action drama “Inception”; the worldwide hit “Clash of the Titans” and its sequel, “Wrath of the Titans”; and Todd Phillips’ “The Hangover,” “The Hangover Part II,” which is the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, and the recently released “The Hangover Part III.”
Legendary more recently released director Brian Helgeland’s hit drama “42,” the story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, and “Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim,” from director Guillermo del Toro. Legendary is also in production on “Godzilla,” slated for release in May 2014 and “Warcraft,” based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning Warcraft universe.
Tull serves on the Board of Directors of Hamilton College, his alma mater, and Carnegie Mellon University. He also serves on the boards of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Diego Zoo, and is part of the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers ownership group, in which he also holds a board seat. Tull invests in digital, media and lifestyle businesses through his Tull Media Ventures, a privately held venture fund.
JON JASHNI (Producer) oversees the development and production of all Legendary Pictures film projects and is President and Chief Creative Officer of Legendary Entertainment, a leading media company with film, television and digital and publishing divisions. He is currently producing “Warcraft,” based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning Warcraft universe. He is also an executive producer on the upcoming “Seventh Son.”
Jashni was previously a producer on “Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim,” and served as executive producer on such Legendary films as “300: Rise of an Empire”; the Jackie Robinson biopic “42”; the worldwide hit “Clash of the Titans”; and “The Town,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck.
Prior to Legendary, Jashni was President of Hyde Park Entertainment, a production and financing company with overall deals at 20th Century Fox, Disney and MGM. While there, he oversaw the development and production of “Shopgirl,” “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story,” “Walking Tall” and “Premonition.”
Before joining Hyde Park, Jashni was a producer on director Andy Tennant’s romantic comedy hit “Sweet Home Alabama.” Jashni’s collaboration with Tennant began with the fairytale “Ever After,” for which Jashni oversaw development and production as a senior production executive at 20th Century Fox.
Jashni also co-produced two Academy Award®-nominated films: the critically acclaimed drama “The Hurricane,” which garnered a Best Actor nod for star Denzel Washington; and a non-musical reinterpretation of “Anna and the King,” which starred Jodie Foster and earned two Oscar® nominations.
Jashni is a member of the American Film Institute and the Producers Guild of America. He holds a BS from the University of Southern California and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
MARY PARENT (Producer) reunites with Legendary Pictures and producers Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni after producing Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi adventure “Pacific Rim.” She also recently produced Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic, “Noah” under her own banner, Disruption Entertainment, which has a first look deal at Paramount Pictures. Parent also produced the upcoming “SpongeBob Squarepants,” movie as well as the currently-in-production “Monster Trucks,” directed by Chris Wedge (“Ice Age”).
Parent founded her first production company, Stuber/Parent, with fellow filmmaker and colleague Scott Stuber, in 2006, working exclusively with Universal Pictures, where the pair had just served as the studio's vice-chairmen of worldwide production from 2003-05.
During their eight years at Universal, five of which they spent running production before ascending to vice-chairmen, the pair was responsible for many of the studio's critically acclaimed and commercially successful films.
Those projects include Peter Jackson’s “King Kong,” Sam Mendes’ “Jarhead,” Ron Howard’s 2001 Oscar®-winning Best Picture, “A Beautiful Mind,” Gary Ross’ Oscar®-nominated “Seabiscuit,” Howard’s biopic, “Cinderella Man,” Steven Spielberg’s Oscar®-nominated “Munich,” the boxoffice hits “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers,” “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy”, Judd Apatow’s comedy hit, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “The Mummy” franchise, the “American Pie” franchise, Peter Berg’s critically-acclaimed “Friday Night Lights,” and many others. In less than a decade, Stuber and Parent supervised over 90 films between them, more than twenty of which grossed over $100 million domestically.
Working with Stuber under their own production banner, Parent produced the comedy “You, Me and Dupree” starring Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson; director Berg’s Middle East thriller “The Kingdom” with Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman; another comedy, “Role Models” with Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott; and the romantic comedy “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” which starred Martin Lawrence and James Earl Jones.
Parent next landed at MGM as the studio’s Motion Picture Group Chairman and co-CEO, where she shepherded such projects as the Kevin James hit comedy, “Zookeeper,” the reboot of John Milius’ 1984 actioner “Red Dawn,” the comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine,” the Joss Whedon-scripted thriller “The Cabin in the Woods” and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” Trilogy, the latter a co-venture with New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures.
Before her stint at Universal, Parent worked at New Line Cinema as Vice President of production, responsible for such films as Gary Ross’ “Pleasantville,” “Set It Off” and “Trial and Error,” projects on which she also served as executive producer. A native of Santa Barbara, Parent earned a B.A. in business from USC before beginning her career as an agent trainee at ICM.
BRIAN ROGERS (Producer) has vast experience in the film industry and a list of credits that includes theatrical motion pictures, special venue 3D films, Imax films and television production. These have taken him to all parts of the world including India, Nepal, China, Japan, England, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, St. John, St. Thomas and St. Lucia. This is coupled with his many years of pioneering producer work with all aspects and formats of 3D production including both live action and computer-generated imagery that were photographed in 65mm, 35mm and digital capture.
His diverse slate of projects includes works for HBO, Universal Pictures, Paramount, MGM, Imax, NBC and Nickelodeon, with credits that include the James Bond actioner “License to Thrill,” “Men In Black,” “Pirates 3D," and the very first digital 3D production “Race For Atlantis.” Rogers’ IMAX credits include "Dr. Bigscreen" for Sony Pictures and "Mystic India," lensed in India and in the Himalayas of Nepal, a production that utilized a total of 50,000 extras in period costuming. He was also a producer and line producer on many segments of “Terminator 2 3D,” which was director James Cameron’s first foray into the 3D realm. Rogers has been a consulting producer for the theatrical Imax 3D films “Cirque Du Soleil 3D," "Mummies" and for television movie projects for Paramount and Granada USA. Other 3D credits include theatrical concert films, including "Luna Sea" for Sony PLC in Japan, as well as capturing sporting events such as "The X Games" in 3D.
Rogers has an extensive history working on visual effects for VFX companies that include Digital Domain, IE Effects, R Greenberg/Imaginary Forces and Rhythm & Hues. This has been as a producer, VFX producer, line producer along with 3D stereo conversion supervision on such films as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” “Green Lantern” and “The Hole.”
He has been a featured guest speaker at the 3D Next Conference and the 3D Entertainment Summit held in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the British Academy of Film & Television Artists.
MAX BORENSTEIN (Screenwriter) is currently adapting the Swedish cyberpunk novel Mona for New Regency and writing “Art of the Steal” for New Line Cinema, with Seth Gordon set to direct. Additionally, the screenwriter is developing two new projects for his “Godzilla” partners at Legendary Pictures.
Borenstein wrote, edited, and directed his first feature film, “Swordswallowers and Thin Men,” while a senior at Yale University. The comedic drama, which starred Zoe Kazan, won Best Feature and Best Screenplay at the New York Independent Film Festival and was named Best First Feature of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times.
His screenplays “What is Life Worth?” based on Kenneth Feinberg's memoir of the same name, and “Jimi,” based on the life of guitarist Jimi Hendrix, were both honored on The Black List.
DAVID CALLAHAM (Story) grew up in Orinda, California, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. He sold “Horsemen,” his first screenplay, in 2003, and has since worked on 2005’s “Doom” (story, screenplay), 2009’s “Tell-Tale” (writer, executive producer) and 2010’s “The Expendables” (story, screenplay).
Callaham has also written projects for Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount, Fox, Screen Gems, Focus Features and, currently, Marvel Studios. He is a Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster enthusiast, and other passions include “Star Wars,” LEGO®, and Star Wars LEGO®. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two dogs.
PATRICIA WHITCHER (Executive Producer) most recently served as executive producer on “The Avengers.” Directed by Joss Whedon, and featuring a pantheon of Marvel superheroes, the film broke all opening weekend box office records upon its release in May 2012. Whitcher first entered the Marvel universe as executive producer of Kenneth Branagh’s epic “Thor,” which was also a boxoffice blockbuster, embraced by fans as well as critics. She continued her association with Marvel by reuniting with the all-star lineup of Superheroes on the blockbuster sequel, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
As executive producer of “The Soloist” for director Joe Wright, Whitcher led her cast and crew from the streets of L.A.’s skid row to the stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Based on a true story, “The Soloist” starred Robert Downey, Jr., as Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, and Jaime Foxx as homeless cello prodigy Nathaniel Ayers.
Whitcher also found herself in downtown L.A., among other locations, as executive producer of “Dreamgirls,” Bill Condon’s film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical which garnered dozens of awards, including two Oscars®.
Whitcher also executive produced “Memoirs of a Geisha,” the lavish film adaptation of Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel, for director Rob Marshall. “Geisha” earned six Academy Award® nominations and won Oscars® for its art direction, cinematography and costumes.
Her credits also include executive producing “The Terminal” for director Steven Spielberg, and P.J. Hogan’s smash hit “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” She also produced the cult favorite “Unconditional Love,” for Hogan. Whitcher’s producing credits also include “Moonlight Mile," “Where the Heart Is," “How to Make an American Quilt," “High School High” and “A Dangerous Woman.” Earlier in her career, she was unit production manager on “True Lies,” “The Meteor Man,” “The Lawnmower Man,” “Iron Maze” and “Darkman.”
Whitcher is a lifelong Los Angeles resident, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, and the mother of two children.
ALEX GARCIA (Executive Producer) is Executive Vice President at Legendary Entertainment, where he is currently overseeing several projects on the company’s slate. In addition to shepherding “Godzilla” from its inception, he is executive producer on Michael Mann’s upcoming thriller starring Chris Hemsworth, Wang Leehom, and Viola Davis. He is also overseeing development on “Mass Effect,” Legendary’s adaptation of the popular BioWare / EA game series; and “Hot Wheels,” which brings the universe of the classic Mattel brand to the big screen.
Since joining Legendary in 2009, Garcia co-produced the company’s global blockbuster “300: Rise of an Empire,” and executive produced “Jack the Giant Slayer,” from director Bryan Singer.
Prior to his work with Legendary, Garcia ran Singer’s Bad Hat Harry Productions, where he worked closely with the filmmaker on his directorial efforts, including the acclaimed World War II thriller “Valkyrie,” starring Tom Cruise. Additionally, he served as executive in charge of production on the first three seasons of Fox and NBC Universal’s hugely successful TV series “House, M.D,” and as co-executive producer of the hit 2005 Syfy Channel miniseries “The Triangle,” overseeing production on location in South Africa. Also under the Bad Hat Harry banner, Garcia executive produced Michael Dougherty’s 2007 cult horror film “Trick ‘R Treat.”
Garcia is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s school of Cinematic Arts.
YOSHIMITSU BANNO (Executive Producer) is the veteran Japanese filmmaker best known for the cult-classic “Godzilla vs. Hedorah” (1971, a.k.a. “Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster”), directing and co-writing the 11th film in Toho Company’s long-lived franchise, which began in 1954 with the eponymous original directed by Ishiro Honda.
Banno joined the Toho Company shortly after graduating from Tokyo University in 1955, studying at Toho under such directors as Hiromichi Horikawa, Mikio Naruse, Kengo Furusawa and Seiji Maruyama. He began his career as an assistant director, first working with the legendary Akira Kurosawa on four consecutive features—“Throne of Blood” and “The Lower Depths” (1957), “The Hidden Fortress” (1958) and “The Bad Sleep Well” (1960).
He continued as an assistant director on ten more features (many for filmmaker Furusawa) before making his own directorial debut on the 1970 feature, “Japanese Nature and Dream,” which played at Osaka's Expo 70 at the Mitsubishi Future Pavilion. Banno created a true audiovisual experience in the film, using mirrors to simulate the effects of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, attracting record-breaking crowds.
The huge success and unique vision of Banno’s directorial debut led “Godzilla” series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to enlist the filmmaker to help revitalize the series. The result, “Godzilla vs. Hedorah,” was a passionately avant-garde film born out of Banno’s visit to a severely polluted beach near the industrial area of Yokkaichi. Banno called his new monster Hedorah, taking its name from the Japanese word Hedoro, which means "mud.” Critics cited the film as one of the most unusual and unique in the series, mixing a blend of social satire, fighting monsters, animation, psychedelic imagery, split screens and musical sequences with death and violence.
After “Godzilla vs. Hedorah,” Banno realized the documentary “Starving Sahara” (1972), co-writing the screenplay for the film which depicted the severity of the drought in Africa. He next returned to the assistant director ranks with “Prophecies of Nostradamus” (Nosutodoramusu no Daiyogen, 1974), adapted from the novel by Tsutomu Goto.
Over the next four years, Banno made a series of documentaries for the television program “Wonderful World.” In the early 1980s, he produced the Toho telefilm “Tokyo Earthquake M8” before writing and producing several animated films such as “The Story of Shigeo Nagashima,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Techno Police” (Tekuno porisu 21C).
Banno also worked on the development of Japax, a shooting format and 70mm projection system similar to IMAX. He produced the first Japax film, “Breathe,” for the Tsukuba Expo in 1985. Further evolution led to Opax (70mm format projection screen dome), Cubic (3-D 70mm format) and Twin Cubic, which used dual Japax projectors.
Several films in various formats were presented at festivals and exhibitions throughout Japan. Those projects produced by Banno include “Magma Adventure” (1988), “Hurry Up Children of Earth” (1988) and “Eagle Fly” (1989). He also designed for the amusement park Space World, located in the city of Kitakyushu.
In 1989, Banno became an executive director in TOHO E・B Co. Ltd. and established Advanced Audiovisual Productions Inc., and became its President in 2001.
KENJI OKUHIRA (Executive Producer) is a producer and photojournalist whose works, in two different arenas, include Ash Baron-Cohen’s 1999 big screen crime thriller “Pups,” on which he served as associate producer for the film festival favorite, and photographic contributions to the 2012 book Floating Stone: 21 Thoughts of Kenji Miyazawa.
The latter work is a collection from the large body of poet Miyazawa Kenji's writing. Miyazawa is considered to be one of the greatest modern Japanese poets and authors, whose work influenced Ishiro Honda, director of the original 1954 “Godzilla,” and many other artists. Select poems by Miyazawa were read by actor Ken Watanabe, who plays the role of Dr. Serizawa in “Godzilla,” in a special TV program by NHK and at a charity auction by Christie's in New York as part of relief activities following the Tohoku Earthquake. Floating Stone: 21 Thoughts of Kenji Miyazawa contains selected brief lines from Miyazawa's best known works juxtaposed with Okuhira’s photographs.
SEAMUS McGARVEY (Director of Photography) has collected two Academy Award® nominations for his cinematography on Joe Wright’s 2007 WWI drama, “Atonement” and his 2012 adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic, “Anna Karenina.”
In addition to the Oscar® nominations, McGarvey won the British Society of Cinematographers (B.S.C.) award for “Anna Karenina,” as well as a nomination for “Atonement,” and also earned BAFTA and A.S.C. nods for both projects. “Atonement” also earned him nominations for the British Independent Film Award, the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, while walking off with the top honor from the Phoenix Film Critics Society.
McGarvey has also won three Evening Standard British Film Awards for “Atonement,” “Anna Karenina” and Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours”; and a quartet of Irish Film & Television Awards for “Atonement,” “Anna Karenina,” “Sahara” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” In 2004, he was awarded the Royal Photographic Society's prestigious Lumiere medal, sharing the company of such pioneers as Jack Cardiff, Freddie Francis, Roger Deakins and Sir Ridley Scott, for contributions to the art of cinematography.
McGarvey hails from Armagh, Northern Ireland, and began his career as a stills photographer before attending film school at the University of Westminster in London. Upon graduating in 1988, he began shooting short films and documentaries, including “Skin,” which was nominated for a Royal Television Society Cinematography Award, and “Atlantic,” directed by Sam Taylor-Wood. The latter project, an experimental, three-screen projected film created in 1997, earned Taylor-Wood a nomination for the 1998 Turner Prize, and would lead to an ongoing collaboration between McGarvey and the director.
His four dozen credits as director of photography include Joss Whedon’s Superhero epic “The Avengers,” the industry record holder for highest opening weekend box office upon its release in May 2012; Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin”; Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center,” which earned an IFTA nomination; Gary Winick's “Charlotte's Web”; John Hamburg's “Along Came Polly”; Stephen Frears' “High Fidelity”; Mike Nichols' “Wit”; Michael Apted's “Enigma”; Michael Winterbottom's “Butterfly Kiss,” McGarvey’s first feature film credit; and two projects marking actors’ directorial debuts: Tim Roth's “The War Zone” and Alan Rickman's “The Winter Guest.” He also served as cinematographer on the pilot for the BBC/HBO TV series “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” directed by Anthony Minghella.
He reunited with director Wright for his 2009 drama “The Soloist,” and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood (now Sam Taylor-Johnson) on her acclaimed 2008 drama, “Nowhere Boy,” her 2011 short, “James Bond Supports International Women’s Day” and the “Death Valley” segment of the 2006 erotic drama “Destricted.” Following his work on “Godzilla,” he reteamed with Taylor-Johnson on her big screen adaptation and Hollywood directorial debut of the bestselling phenomenon “50 Shades of Grey.”
His documentary work includes “Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home,” which followed his work on Wright’s “The Soloist,” and filmed in the same locales; “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction”; “Rolling Stones: Tip of the Tongue”; and “The Name of This Film Is Dogme95.”
Supplementing his work on features and telefilms, McGarvey has also photographed and directed over 100 music videos for such artists as Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, U2, and Robbie Williams.
OWEN PATERSON (Production Designer) is a two-time BAFTA nominee for his work on the 1999 sci-fi thriller “The Matrix,” and his designs on Stephan Elliott’s flamboyant comedy “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” For the latter, he was also awarded the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award, the third of three nominations he has received for the prize. For his work on “The Matrix,” he also collected AFI and Art Directors Guild nominations. Paterson worked on the complete “Matrix” trilogy.
The Western Australia native studied his craft at the Perth Institute of Film and Television and directed a short film in 1978 called “Silvana” before embarking on his design career. He reunited with director Elliott on his very next project, the 1995 comedy “Welcome to Woop Woop,” and also counts among his design credits Michel Gondry’s “The Green Hornet,” the sci-fi thriller “Red Planet,” as well as the Wachowskis' “Speed Racer” and their production of the dystopian thriller “V for Vendetta,” for which he won Best Production Design from the San Diego Film Critics Society.
Paterson also designed several indigenous Australian productions that include “Race the Sun,” “Travelling North” and “The Place at the Coast,” for which he was AFI-nominated. Additionally, he served as art director on the Australian features “The Return of Captain Invincible” and “Bliss,” earning his first AFI nomination for the latter film.
His television credits include Roger Spottiswoode’s “Noriega: God’s Favorite,” the NBC thriller “The Beast” (based on the Peter Benchley novel), “Shout! The Story of Johnny O’Keefe” and Chris Noonan’s “The Riddle of the Stinson.”
BOB DUCSAY (Film Editor/Co-Producer) reteams with Legendary Pictures following his work on Bryan Singer’s fantasy adventure “Jack the Giant Slayer.”
Ducsay is a longtime collaborator with filmmaker Stephen Sommers. Ducsay has served as Sommers’ editor and producer on “The Mummy Returns, “Van Helsing” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” in addition to producing “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”
Ducsay’s other editing credits include “The Adventures of Huck Finn,” “The Jungle Book,” “Deep Rising” and “The Mummy.” He more recently edited Rian Johnson’s acclaimed thriller “Looper.” Ducsay also executive-produced the 2004 Academy Award®-winning short film “Two Soldiers.”
The Miami native received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
SHAREN DAVIS (Costume Designer) is a two-time Academy Award® nominee who most recently designed the wardrobes for a trio of diverse projects whose genres span three different eras: Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award®-winning 1850s spaghetti western homage “Django Unchained”; Rian Johnson’s futuristic thriller “Looper”; and Tate Taylor’s 2011 Oscar®-nominated Best Picture “The Help,” which explores life in the 1960s South. Following her work on “Godzilla,” she reunited with Taylor on his James Brown biopic “Get On Up.”
Davis herself earned Oscar® nominations for her work on Taylor Hackford’s award-winning biopic “Ray,” and Bill Condon’s 2008 big screen musical “Dreamgirls.” She also earned Costume Designers Guild Award nominations for “The Help,” “Ray” and “Dreamgirls” and a Broadcast Film Critics Association nod for “The Help.”
In a career spanning three decades, Davis has collaborated five times with actor Denzel Washington (Carl Franklin’s “Devil in A Blue Dress” and “Out of Time”; the Hughes Brothers’ “The Book of Eli”; and Washington’s directorial efforts “Antwone Fisher” and “The Great Debaters”); twice with Will Smith (“Seven Pounds” and “The Pursuit of Happyness”); and on two projects with Eddie Murphy (“Doctor Doolittle” and “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”).
Her motion picture credits also include the critically-acclaimed drama “Akeelah and the Bee”; “Beauty Shop”; Franklin’s “High Crimes”; Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour” and “Money Talks”; George Gallo’s “Middle Men” and “The Take”; and Alan Rudolph’s 1992 crime thriller “Equinox,” which marked her first credit as designer.
In addition to her work in film and television, Davis also designed the wardrobes for the legendary musical group The Traveling Wilburys, having first met singer-songwriter George Harrison on the 1989 feature, “Checking Out,” on which she served as costume supervisor for his Dark Horse production company.
JIM RYGIEL (VFX supervisor) is a three-time Academy Award® winner for his groundbreaking visual effects on Peter Jackson’s landmark “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy. For his work on “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King,” Rygiel also shared in three BAFTA Awards and two Visual Effects Society (VES) honors for the second and third films, with a third nomination for “The Return of the King.” In 2002, after the release of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” Rygiel received the American Film Institute's first AFI Digital Effects Artist of the Year Award.
Considered one of the industry’s pioneers in the computer animation field, Rygiel began his career in the infancy of digital visual effects. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in his home state, the Kenosha native moved to Los Angeles and received his M.F.A. and an honorary doctorate from the Otis College of Art and Design where he currently sits on the school’s Board of Trustees. Additionally, he is on the Board of Advisors at the Academy of Art University in San Francisico, where he also received an honorary doctorate degree.
He first landed at Pacific Electric Pictures (one of the earliest companies to employ computer animation for the advertising and film arenas) before segueing to Digital Productions, where his work earned him a CLIO Award for the SONY Walkman ad campaign and where he worked on two 1984 sci-fi adventure films—Peter Hyams’ sequel “2010,” based on Arthur Clarke’s book, and Nick Castle’s “The Last Starfighter,” one of the early projects to use digital animation in place of models. He later picked up a second CLIO honor for his work on the Geo Prism automobile commercial.
At Boss Film Studios, which he joined in 1989 and worked with the legendary Richard Edlund, Rygiel directed a computer animation department that grew to over 75 animators and 100 support staff within fourteen months, producing effects for such projects as Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers,” which was a nominee for the VFX Oscar®; Roger Donaldson’s “Species”; Wolfgang Petersen’s “Outbreak” and “Air Force One”; John McTiernan’s “The Last Action Hero”; Renny Harlin’s actioner “Cliffhanger”; Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns,” an Oscar® nominee for VFX; David Fincher’s “Alien3,” another VFX Oscar® nominee; and Jerry Zucker’s “Ghost.”
He most recently served as VFX supervisor on “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and counts among his credits such films as “Eagle Eye,” the 2008 reboot of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Night at the Museum,” “102 Dalmatians,” “The Parent Trap,” “Anna and the King” and “Star Trek: Insurrection.”
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT (Composer) is a six-time Academy Award® nominee, who has created the music for a wide range of films. He received his most recent Oscar® nomination this year for the score for Stephen Frears’ critically acclaimed “Philomena,” which also received an Oscar® nod for Best Picture.
Desplat was previously nominated for composing the music for Ben Affleck’s Oscar®-winning Best Picture “Argo,” for which he also collected BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. He also scored another Best Picture Oscar® winner for “The King’s Speech,” again earning BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations as well.
Additionally, he garnered Oscar® and BAFTA Award nominations for his score for the animated “Fantastic Mr. Fox”; Oscar®, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; and Oscar® and BAFTA Award nominations for Stephen Frears’ “The Queen.”
Desplat also won a Golden Globe Award for John Curran’s “The Painted Veil,” and received Golden Globe nominations for his scores for Stephen Gaghan’s “Syriana” and Peter Webber’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
In his native France, Desplat won the César Award for his scores for “The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Rider,” and, most recently, for “Rust and Bone.” Desplat has earned five more César Award nominations, including one for the Oscar®-nominated 2009 French film “A Prophet,” and this year for Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur.”
Desplat also scored the music for Best Picture Oscar® nominees “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and “The Tree of Life.”
His other recent film work includes “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Reality”; the animated “Rise of the Guardians”; and George Clooney’s “Monument’s Men.”
Among his other credits are Clooney’s “The Ides of March”; Polanski’s “Carnage”; the two-film finale of the Harry Potter film series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2”; Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”; Chris Weitz’ “A Better Life”; “The Twilight Saga New Moon”; “The Golden Compass”; “Tamara Drewe”; Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia”; and Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution.”
The Parisian-born musician began playing piano at age five. He later added the flute and trumpet to his musical repertoire, studying music in both France and the United States with such mentors as Claude Ballif, Iannis Xenakis and Jack Hayes. His influences also include Brazilian Carlinhos Brown and the Congloese musician, Ray Lema.