Monster high

Both were initially dubious when approached about a new Godzilla movie.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen rolled their eyes when they received news that they were the No. 1 choices to star in the creature feature.

"When I had a call that told me I'm considered for a part, I laughed it off and asked what else is there for me," British actor Taylor-Johnson, 23, told M at the JW Marriot Essex House in New York.

"My first thought was 'Really? Another Godzilla? Why bother?'".

US actress Olsen, 25, had a similar reaction.

"Me? Why? I'm so not the Godzilla movie person."

It's not hard to see why they were so sceptical about the project.

The lizard king's last Hollywood outing in 1995 was a critical disaster denounced by fans, and even its director, Roland Emmerich, expressed his regrets about it.

Moreover, Taylor-Johnson - despite his outing as the titular hero in the two Kick-Ass movies - isn't your typical action blockbuster star.

Neither is Olsen, who has carved out a solid reputation as an indie actress through films such as Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Liberal Arts (2012) and the recent Kill Your Darlings.

But both had their interest piqued when informed that British film-maker Gareth Edwards, best known for directing the critically-acclaimed indie sci-fi flick Monsters (2010), would be helming Godzilla.

"I thought that was interesting. I like Monsters," said Taylor-Johnson. "Gareth shared his vision for Godzilla. He didn't have a script yet but I was impressed by what he wanted to do.

"What was supposed to be about an hour-long chat turned into a six-hour session, and I walked out on board."

Olsen was also won over by Edwards' passionate sales pitch, but more importantly, she wanted to "work with the cast".

Godzilla, opening here tomorrow, promises to be in the same spirit as the 1954 original, which saw the eponymous monster being born out of a nuclear incident.

Japan-based American nuclear physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) remains obsessed about finding the truth of a nuclear fallout that tore apart his family, even after 15 years.

Taylor-Johnson plays Ford, Brody's estranged navy bomb disposal expert son who is inevitably drawn into his father's quest. Olsen is Elle, Ford's wife and mother of their four-year-old son.

This darker and edgier Godzilla also stars Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn.


Said Taylor-Johnson: "I think Gareth was being very ambitious to see me as this big military guy. I never really think I can do that but I loved that he felt I could pull it off.

"Gareth also understood that I'm married and I've got kids. I think originally they had the guy a lot older, but they changed Ford to a young father when I agreed to star."

Taylor-Johnson's wife is English film-maker Sam Taylor-Wood, 47, who directed him in his 2009 breakout film, Nowhere Boy, and will helm the much-anticipated erotic film, Fifty Shades of Grey. The couple have two young daughters.

Another big draw for Olsen was the opportunity to experience filming against a green screen.

Said the New Yorker, the younger sister of actresses-fashion designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: "I've never worked with a green screen before and I got to do very little CGI compared to everyone else... (It was also) a great stepping stone to doing something like The Avengers."

Olsen, who is engaged to US model-actor Robert Boyd Holbrook, is now shooting the blockbuster sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, where she plays telekinetic superhero Scarlet Witch.

Taylor-Johnson, coincidentally, was chosen by Avengers director Joss Whedon to portray her twin brother Quicksilver, who can move at superhuman speed.

"It's not strange that Lizzie went from my wife to sibling," laughed Taylor-Johnson. "I can't think of another better actor to work with. Lizzie's nice, very cool and talented."

Olsen added that the familiarity she shared with her Godzilla co-star made it easier to play twins.

Edwards, 39, admitted he was plain lucky to get his dream cast on board.

"I'd like to take all the credit but unfortunately I can't. A lot of these high-caliber actors don't want to be associated with a movie like Godzilla. Their initial responses were what we expected. They were not interested.

"I told them to forget that this is a monster movie. Focus on the human drama," said Edwards, who added that he showed the cast a 10-minute animation of what he planned to do with the movie.

"Thankfully everyone did a U-turn and saw that we have something serious."

This article was published on May 14 in The New Paper.

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