Ken Watanabe discusses ‘Godzilla’ and Japan’s nuclear history

Japan has a different relationship with nuclear devices/power than the rest of the world.  It was in post-WWII Japan, post-atomic bomb Japan, that Godzilla was created, in no small part as a response to fears about radiation.  More recently, in 2011, a tsunami caused a nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant in the country.

The new Gareth Edwards' “Godzilla” was already being written at the time of this more recent disaster, and it is impossible to watch the movie-part of which does take place at a nuclear plant-and not instantly draw anew that original association.  Because of that, when I sat down with Ken Watanabe from the new film,  the monster's origins and Japan's relationship with him and nuclear power was a part of the discussion.

In fact, my first question to Watanabe was whether, as someone from Japan, he approached things a little differently than his co-stars, who are not Japanese.  Watanabe's response to that question starts out on a lighthearted note as he reminded me that “Godzilla was born in the Pacific Ocean, he doesn't know the border,” but quickly he turned more serious and brought up the monster's nuclear origins and the more recent tsunami-caused devastation. 

If you watch the above interview, you can see Watanabe's thoughts in full on the issue, and do not worry, we don't stay dark and distressing for the entirety of the time.   We also talk about how you research Godzilla and MUTOs, which is the job of Watanabe's character and a little about responsibility towards the character and fans.

Opening this Friday, May 16th, “Godzilla” also stars Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.