Interview With Satsuma and Nakajima
by Jim Cirronella
Chat Transcript, June 1, 2002
To kick off the events of G-CON'98, long time kaiju fan Aaron J. Smith
arranged with the SciFi Channel an online interview with Godzilla suitmation
actors Haruo Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma. This was the first ever
Internet chat with celebrities from the Japanese sci'fi genere and it was
but one part of the online activities which took place over the weekend.
Moderator: Before we begin, will you introduce yourself Gcon98 and explain
how things are working on your end?
Gcon98: This is Jim posting from the location of G-CON `98 in Chicago. I
have with me Mr. Haruo Nakajima and
Gcon98: Mr. Kenpachiro Satsuma, the Men Who Were Godzilla.
Moderator: We`re very pleased to present two actors who have brought to
life The King of All Monsters for moviegoers around the world.
Moderator: Haruo Nakajima who originated the role of Godzilla in 1954.
Moderator: And Kenpachiro Satsuma who portrayed Godzilla for over a decade.
Gcon98: We have a translator who will translate their answers to your questions.
Gcon98: I will identify who is answering.
Moderator: Gentlemen, would you please say hello and tell the fans a little
Moderator: yourselves and your work?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Thank you very much for your warm-hearted interest
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: My dear American Godzilla fans, thank you very much
for inviting us to the United States this year.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: If we have a chance, hopefully we will have time to
talk to create US-Japan Godzilla.
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: We are deeply expecting to see you at G-CON `98 on
the 23rd and 24th!
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: In that case, let`s talk about OUR Godzilla as detailed
as we can...
Gcon98: Jim: Please ask any questions that you have...
Moderator: First, the question everyone wants to ask...
Moderator: to : For both: what is their opinion of the new, Hollywood version
Gcon98: Neither Mr. Nakajima and Mr. Satsuma have seen the new film as of
Gcon98: They will see it tommorrow night.
Gcon98: Do you want to know their impressions of what they have seen so
Moderator: to : Mr. Satsuma, Mr. Nakajima, Have you seen a photo of the
new Godzilla? If so how do you feel about it? And I thank both of you for
all the years of great fun you have given me!
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: To me, its face looks like an iguana and its body
and limbs look like a frog.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: Honestly speaking, I am a bit disappointed.
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: As long as we see its legs, it seems to have an ability
to run fast...
Moderator: to : Did you have fun playing `Godzilla?`
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Absolutely!
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: It is painstaking, but worth doing...
Moderator: to : What animal in nature did the actors most Identify with
when playing G?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: In my case, in the zoo I observed bears, monkeys and
anything big like an elephant.
Gcon98: And I studied the movements of these animals.
Gcon98: Bears movements, especially really helps me to act as Godzilla.
Gcon98: And for the leg movements, elephants really helped.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I studied no particular living animal. I just imagined
the Satsuma Godzilla alone.
Moderator: to : I would like to know what motivated Godzilla to attack Tokyo.
Was it just animal instinct or was he just passing through and didn`t mean
to cause mass destruction?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: This is a question you`d better ask the scriptwriters!
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: Since it is a Japanese brand monster, it is obvious
that it attacked Tokyo, the center of society, culture and everything in Japan.
Moderator: to : How much lattitude did the directors allow the actors in
their role as Godzilla? Any creative stomping around?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: About 50% planned and 50% my improvisation.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: In my case, it is 90% my creation!
Moderator: to : Which, of all of the 22 Japanese films, do they think best
represents the Godzilla mythos?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: All 22 films!
Gcon98: I`ll tell you why: all 22 scripts are treated by the directors,
cast and staff as best as possible.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: In terms of monster performance, I really love the
battle sequence in the Ashinoko Lake in Godzilla vs. Biollante.
Gcon98: Although its quality is not as high as that sequence, Godzilla vs.
Destroyah -- it is a very painstaking and impressive one.
Moderator: to : What was the biggest challenge in playing Godzila?
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: In Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, the sequence in which
Godzilla emerges from the sea to the coast looking for Little Godzilla.
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Since I did everything I could in all Godzilla movies,
I can hardly answer which one was most difficult. All works were challenging!
Moderator: to : what methods did you use to help cool yourself while in
those massive rubber suits
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: There was no air conditioning at that time. Fighting
spirit was the only method to keep me cool until the end of each scene.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I didn`t have any method to cool myself. Exactly the
same as Mr. Nakajima with one exception: my studio was air conditioned.
Moderator: to : Were there a lot of animatronics in the suits, and did you
have to operate them yourselves?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: The mouth, eyes are remote controlled. The tail was
hung by wire and the staff did not control the tail; the staff just followed
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: The mouth, eyes and neck movements were remote controlled.
The tail is the same as Mr. Nakajima; the staff just followed my actions.
Moderator: to : Do either one of you feel suitmation has reached its limit?
Do you ever see an end to the traditonal kaiju film?
Moderator: (for those who have recently joined us, please send your questions
as private messages to me - /msg Moderator)
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: I never think that the traditional style of kaiju
films will end.
Gcon98: The limitations of monster suit expression totally depends on the
Gcon98: Once you receive the script, it is the actor`s duty to expand the
expression as much as you can.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I never think it can end either.
Gcon98: With one condition: just with much lighter monster suits, you can
expand the possibilities of expression.
Moderator: to : Did any of these gentlemen ever suffer injuries while playing
GODZILLA on the set??
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Although I once got burned in the shooting, it is
confidential, so I can`t tell you which film it is!
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I was about to die countless times; I could just about
see the gate of Hell several times!!
Moderator: to : Mr. Nakajima: What did you think of the idea of Godzilla
when you first were asked to play him in 1954?
Gcon98: ONe example from last question...
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: Falling into the water pool due to the loss of oxygen;
you are automatically going to drown. I am sorry I can`t tell you which film
Gcon98: I did experience these types of things several times in one film!
Gcon98: Okay, Guyver`s question...
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Up until that time, there was no kaiju genre; so,
all I could do was just imagine it myself.
Moderator: to : What was your favorite monster that Godzilla faces?
Gcon98: Both gentlemen think that these are very good questions!
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: Mr. Sekita, another monster actor, was the best match
for me, so the monsters that he played such as Ebirah, Gorosaurus and MechaniKong
and Sanda are my favorite monsters.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I love all rivals of Godzilla that I fought because
they are all my students (the actors who played the other monsters).
Moderator: to : Did you play any of the other Monsters that appered in Godzilla
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: I played Rodan, King Kong, Gaira, Varan, Baragon...
Gcon98: Even the huge rat, man-bat and gryphon in Latitude Zero.
Gcon98: I also played many monsters and robots in the Ultra series.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I also played Gigan and Hedorah (the Smog Monster)
before I played the Heisei Godzilla.
Moderator: to : so is there any hint that there may be a new kaiku film
from Toho featuring one of you as the new young Godzilla we saw in the Destroyah
Gcon98: A little more from Mr. Satsuma on the last question...
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I also played the eight headed serpent in Yamato Takeru
and I also did Pulgasary, the North Korean monster movie.
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: No.
Gcon98: As you know, I am a bit too aged; I am now sorry to say I am 69
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: I completed my work as a Godzilla actor; I already
officially declared retirment as a Godzilla actor.
Moderator: to : What was it like to work with Ishiro Honda?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: He was truly a gentleman; he never showed any anger
toward his staff nor the cast.
Moderator: to : How much of yourself is in the big guy`s character?
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: As long as I receive the script, I have to make myself
Gcon98: When you see Godzilla on screen, you can not calculate how much
is me and how much is Godzilla.
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: 150% of myself is expressed on the screen.
Gcon98: I become Godzilla totally.
Moderator: One final question:
Moderator: to : Why do you think Godzilla has developed such a vast amount
of fans from all over the world?
Moderator: Thank you both for taking the time out of your busy U.S. schedule
to chat with
Moderator: Godzilla fans on the Internet.
Moderator: (oops, that was early. ;)
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: As an actor, all I can say is that I did my very best
in each film. Telling you the reason why is beyond my comprehension.
Gcon98: GODZILLA ALONE KNOWS THE ANSWER!
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: Though I can think of several reasons (like Godzilla`s
nuclear theme) for the huge popularity throughout many generations and lanuguages,
Gcon98: all I can say is THE VICTORY OF IMAGINATION!!!
Moderator: Thanks again for coming online with us to chat with Godzilla
fans all over the world.
Gcon98: Mr. Nakajima: My deepest thank you to fans all over the world.
Gcon98: Please keep loving Toho movies in the future!
Gcon98: Mr. Satsuma: All I can say is thank you. If we have another chance,
I would like to know the impression of the American Godzilla film on fans
all over the world.
Gcon98: G-Con: Thank you very much to Sci-Fi for allowing the Men Who Played
Godzilla to chat with their fans.
Gcon98: Thank you also to Aaron J. Smith who organized this chat.
Interview © 1998, 2005
Daikaiju Enterprises and Productions.
G-CON, and the G-CON ® logo are registered
trademarks of Daikaiju
Enterprises and Productions.