The Man Who Originally Played GODZILLA, Haruo Nakajima, Has Passed Away
Haruo Nakajima, the man who originally played Godzilla from 1954's Godzilla to 1972's Godzilla vs. Gigan, has passed away. He was 88-years-old. This is the guy who slipped on the Godzilla suit and stomped around crushing buildings on giant sets and who fought other giant monsters. He played Godzilla over the course of 12 films over the course of 18 years.
I had the opportunity to meet him once at Monsterpalooza one year and attended a panel that revolved around his career. He was just the nicest man. According to Kotaku, Nakajima died yesterday afternoon after contracting pneumonia.
When talking about playing Godzilla, he revealed that he prepared for the role by studying elephants. In an interview with Japanese magazine Josei Seven (via The Tokyo Reporter) about his experience, he said:
“At that time, there was an elephant from India there called Indira and I observed how it walked. So Godzilla’s style of walking came from an elephant.”
He also talked about what it was like working in that Godzilla suit. He explained that it wasn't an easy task. He said:
“Without the training my body received in the Navy I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
He went on to describe one of the more difficult things about wearing the suit was that it was so hot:
“One cut would take seven seconds, and during the breaks I would wring the sweat out of my shirt into a jar. I also really stunk up the inside of that suit to an unbelievable degree.”
Apparently, back then, suit actors like Nakajima weren't considered respectable actors. He got paid well, and made a decent living, but people didn't consider it a real job.
“Back then, people didn’t speak positively of suit actors. There’d be whispers going around that working inside (a suit) is not an acting job.”
Well, he played one of the most legendary movie monsters in the history of film and he is respected for his accomplishments. It's sad to hear that he has passed on, but our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
I included a great little video below that details the life and career of Haruo Nakajima.