Two old friends discuss how their latest film is a penetrating socioeconomic allegory for our time.
Kong: Godzilla, it’s been too long. Welcome to the podcast.
Godzilla. Kong. Kongster. Kongarooni. So great to be with you, and such a thrill to work with you on our new movie, Godzilla vs. Kong. People can see it in theaters or on HBO Max.
K: ’Zil, you and I, when did we first work together?
G: Back in 1963, King Kong vs. Godzilla. This one’s better. Didn’t you have a blast filming this thing? It’s pretty wicked.
K: I did, except it’s so hard to be away from your family when you’re shooting on location in the hollow space in the center of Earth.
G: That scene where you took the magical energy axe and laid it in its custom-built charging port in the center of the Earth in order to muster the power to come back and defeat me. . . chills, man. I could watch that ten times. I learned a lot from you, compadre.
K: Thank you, Godzilla. I worked hard to get that right. Did you know, to prepare for the scenes when I communicate with the adorable mute girl who is the only one who can reach me I studied American Sign Language for six months?
G: Impressive. I’ve always respected your work ethic.
K: I owe it all to my father, Hyman Kong. Hardest working man I ever met. He passed too soon.
G: Blessed be his memory. He’d be proud of you for making this picture, though.
K: There’s so much nuance to it. I mean layers. It’s not just about us wrecking buildings in Hong Kong and you spitting nuclear fire and us roaring in each other’s faces.
G: By the way, I noticed that you had brushed your teeth before that scene. It’s the little things.
K: Nicholson taught me that. “Always brush your teeth before a series of takes,” he’d tell me. “People won’t say anything, but you’ll see the gratitude in their faces.”
G: When did you work with Jack?
K: The Bucket List. I was in some of the Africa sequences. My part got cut.
G: It happens. But can we talk about what I loved most about Godzilla vs. Kong?
G: I get sent a lot of scripts, as I’m sure you do too, but I fell in love with this one. First of all, I was excited to work with the director, Alan Winegard.
K: Wingard. Adam Wingard.
G: Was it? These kids, who can remember their names? But the main thing, the reason I just had to do this picture, is because it’s such a penetrating socioeconomic allegory for our time.
K: Exactly. Mechagodzilla, your laboratory-built robot adversary, and later mine, is a perfect metaphor for the destructive energy unleashed by automation in 21st-century global industry.
G: He’s not just a super-mean robot Godzilla, he’s the story of our times. Automation is just ripping the guts out of manufacturing towns across this country. I spent nine weeks traveling around post-industrialized–Rust Belt states to get a sense of how folks were dealing with crippling economic dislocation just so I would be prepared.
G: The scene where Mechagodzilla and I smash each other into skyscrapers in Hong Kong. And for that scene where I rise up out of the water and destroy the bridge with my head? I must have read seven or eight books on metallurgy and bridge construction so that I’d know precisely where to hit the span. Attention to detail always pays off in the final product, if I may say so.
K: People don’t know that we do our own stunts. I trained for six weeks with the Navy SEALs for that underwater fight we do in the early stages of the picture.
G: They’re the best. Semper Fi.
K: Back to the Hong Kong climax — it’s a beauty. I mean, it’s going to be really cathartic for the audience when I rip off the limbs of Mechagodzilla and he spews black gunk all over the city.
G: Yeah, what was that? Since when do robots bleed?
K: I actually argued with the director about that. He told me it’s supposed to be motor oil. Robots are full of motor oil? Whatever. But I love how the mute little girl tells me in sign language that Godzilla is no longer the enemy but Mechagodzilla is the enemy. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. It was the most touching thing I’d read since that scene where Batman and Superman agree to stop trying to kill each other because both of their moms are named Martha.
G: Right? And when you put down your magic rechargeable energy axe that you carried up from the center of the Earth and we give each other that look that says, “Okay, enough fighting, I have no quarrel with you, my brother.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about rampaging, it’s about turning the page. This isn’t a movie about me puking a beam of pure nuclear energy that drills a hole straight down to the core of the Earth, it’s a movie about unity. People need to hear that. Now, more than ever.
K: War. What is it good for?
G: Ebony, ivory. Living in perfect harmony.
K: Godzilla, our time is almost up, but I hope another 58 years don’t go by before we work together again. Any other projects you wanna plug?
G: You can catch me in summer stock, up in the Berkshires. I’m doing Chekhov.
K: Uncle Vanya?
G: Cherry Orchard. I play Firs.
K: The tiny, pathetic 87-year-old manservant?
G: I hate to be typecast.