Resurrection of Monsters — and Movie Theaters

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Japanese star Shun Oguri chats with The Rafu about "Godzilla vs. Kong."

TIME FOR SOME WELCOME MAYHEM — Monster legends duke it out in the long-awaited “Godzilla vs. Kong,” opening in theaters March 31. (Images courtesy Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures)

By TOMOKO NAGAI, Rafu Staff Writer

Japanese actor Shun Oguri appears in the new Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures movie “Godzilla vs. Kong,” directed by Adam Wingard, opening March 31. This is Oguri’s Hollywood debut.

The release has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the long-awaited film is finally out in time for the reopening of movie theaters in Los Angeles area.

Oguri is already a very popular actor in Japan. Especially noteworthy for Japanese Americans is that he starred in a 2019 TV movie, “Futatsu no Sokoku” (Two Homelands), based on the 1983 book by Toyoko Yamazaki, which was previously adapted as an NHK drama titled “Sanga Moyu.” Oguri played a Nisei, Kenji Amo, who was born in Little Tokyo, sent to an internment camp, and has his identity shaped by his two homelands.

As he performed the role of a Nisei so impressively, I cannot stop thinking of his special connection with the local community, not to mention the fact that he lived in Los Angeles for several months last year.

In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” he appears in the role of Ren, the son of the late Dr. Serizawa Inoshiro, who was played by Ken Watanabe in the previous two Hollywood versions of Godzilla. As a mysterious researcher at a high-tech company, Apex, he holds the key to the story.

The Rafu Shimpo interviewed Oguri a week before the movie’s release.

Already a star in Japan, Shun Oguri is making his Hollywood debut.

Rafu Shimpo: What kind of person is your character, Ren? Does this person have any kind of back story?

Shun Oguri: It was very difficult role to build up the character. There are many parts not described (in the film). Because he is mysterious, his character was difficult to understand. I would think he had become a scientist by his father’s influence; however, he participated in Apex because he thought what his father aimed for was somewhat different from what he is aiming for. As such, I have been building up the role.

RS: What were you excited most about appearing in this movie?

SO: As a Japanese, it was my greatest pleasure to be able to participate in a Godzilla film. Adam, the director, is probably the same age as me. It was great working with him. He has been watching a lot of Japanese movies, including my works. He does not hide his interest in so many things. Watching him on the set, I had the impression that “the man, with a heart full of childlike curiosity, is making the film and enjoying every step of it.”

RS: You lived in L.A. last year when the city was swayed by BLM in addition to COVID-19. Do you have any thoughts in your experience in L.A.?

SO: Living in Japan, I hardly felt discrimination. But when I lived as a foreigner outside of Japan, and interacted with people of various races, I felt it a lot. There were moments when I realized that, as well as looked myself and thought, “I should have been more aware of these issues.”

RS: The movie is out soon. What is your recommendation to Rafu readers?

SO: I understand that the movie theaters have been long closed in Los Angeles and are finally back. The film can be watched in movie theaters. No other movie than “Godzilla vs. Kong” is so suitable for watching in theaters. Of course, don’t forget to mention that you can also watch this film on HBO Max, if you prefer, but I would like you to watch it in a movie theater. Because, you know, with a big screen, with that special atmosphere of the movie theaters, just imagine seeing the big scuffle of those two giants … It will feel so refreshing, exciting, and fun. So, if you have a chance, I hope you will fully enjoy “Godzilla vs. Kong” at a theater.

Shun Oguri

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Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.

The film will be released nationwide in 2D and 3D in select theaters and IMAX. It will also be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from the theatrical release. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” also stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza González and Julian Dennison, with Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir.

The release date in Japan is in May. On the Web: https://www.godzillavskong.net/

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