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Godzilla vs. Kong: Actor Shun Oguri Says His ‘Heart Caught Fire’ in Hollywood Film Debut

In the latest adventure, Godzilla finally confronts King Kong, the monster king of Hollywood, but in the process unexpected enemies also make an appearance.

Ken Ishii

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Godzilla Vs Kong. © 2021 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. & LEGENDARY PICTURES PRODUCTIONS LLC.

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The Hollywood movie Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) finally landed in Japan on July 2. It has been a box office hit elsewhere since its release in March 2021, amidst the corona pandemic. 

The release in Japan was postponed once more in May due to COVID-19 emergency measures.

In this film, the monster king Godzilla, much prized by Japan, goes on a rampage on the other side of the world. Japanese actor Shun Oguri (38) also made his Hollywood debut. With his eyes sparkling, he said his involvement in this film lit “a new fire in me.” Oguri also talked about his desire to expand his work into the rest of the world.

Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth in a series of monster movies, starting with GODZILLA (2014), distributed by Warner Brothers (worldwide) and Toho (Japan). It’s the third Godzilla film after The King of Monsters (2019). In the latest adventure, he finally confronts King Kong, the monster king of Hollywood, but in the process unexpected enemies also make an appearance.

Shun Oguri meets Godzilla and aims for the world = Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Photographed by Ken Ishii)

Oguri plays Ren Serizawa, a scientist and son of Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe (61), who appeared in two previous films as a scientist and ally of Godzilla.  

What is Ren’s goal? The 6 foot (184 centimeters) tall Oguri fares well among other Hollywood actors.

It’s his first Hollywood appearance, and it was filmed in Australia in March 2019. 

“Wow, it was great,” commented Oguri. The production cost was of a considerably different scale from that of Japanese movies. Oguri was overwhelmed and excited every day. “I was a kid who loved Hollywood movies, so it was a dream to appear in a Hollywood film,” he said.

There were hardships, too. For one, Japan’s top actors are unknown in Hollywood. “You’re a shooting staff, aren’t you?” one co-star even asked him.

Then the struggle with English. “Sorry, Shun, you have to start over,” he was told over and over. His pronunciation of “Salmon” was strange, they said, and he was forced to redo the scene 300 times.

But, he reflected, it was a good experience overall. “A new fire was lit within me. Even if this time it ends up a one off test, it’s an experience to remember. I will definitely try again to make it again on the international stage.”

Immediately after the Godzilla film was completed in July 2019, Oguri lived in the U.S. for a year to study English seriously.

He has a few role models to look up to. Actors like Hiroyuki Sanada (60) and Tadanobu Asano (47), who are active on the international stage. “(Ken) Watanabe was 42 years old when he got the part in ‘The Last Samurai.’ I want to be at the start line in about three years,” said Oguri, looking at his predecessors to set his goals.

Back home, he is keeping himself busy. He has finished filming “Nihon Chinbotsu – Kibou No Hito” (The Sinking of Japan – Person of Hope), a TBS television series, scheduled to be televised from October. He will also be appearing in next year’s NHK taiga drama, an annual year-long historical TV drama series. The 2022 taiga drama is called, “Kamakura-den no 13 Nin” (The 13 people of Kamakura-den). Perhaps by taking the reins of the Kamakura Shogunate, Shun Oguri will now aim for the world.

In Godzilla vs Kong a company that seeks to investigate the unknown energy of the world under the Earth chooses King Kong for the project and transports the creature to the entrance at the South Pole.  However, Godzilla appears from under the sea, blocking Kong’s way. 

The latest film is directed by Adam Wingard. There is no human drama this time, as the focus is to overwhelm the audience with the gigantic clash between the two monster titans.

A look back at Godzilla, from the original Godzilla film.

Godzilla vs Kong was released nationwide at TOHO Cinemas Hibiya in Tokyo and TOHO Cinemas Umeda in Osaka beginning July 2. The film is one hour and 54 minutes long.

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(Read The Sankei Shimbun report on the movie in Japanese, at this link.)

Author: Ken Ishii

Ken Ishii is a senior staff writer for the Sankei Shimbun Culture News Department.