Interview: Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry on going big or going home on Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire

Having survived the spectacle of Godzilla Vs Kong, Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry were no strangers to the atmosphere of Adam Wingard‘s wrangling of the titanic cinematic beasts that are Godzilla and King Kong.  But what about Dan Stevens?

As Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire storms into theatres, Peter Gray spoke with the enthusiastic trio about working with predominant effects and just wanting to be liked on set.

Rebecca and Brian, you worked previously together on Godzilla Vs Kong, so you’re more familiar with the extensive effects.  I’m going to ask you Dan, how did it feel coming in as the newbie and working with those effects?

Dan Stevens: I mean, I’ve been lucky enough to work with CGI on this scale before, but nothing quite like Godzilla X Kong and the kind of action sequences and scale of imagination that’s involved.  It was made a hell of a lot easier stepping alongside (the) two who have been through it before, and being titans of cinema.  And in being led all the way by Adam Wingard, who I have worked with before and I know is just steeped in this kind of world.  He really knows how to infuse a team.  Every head of department, every actor was just really fired up by his enthusiasm and playfulness, and the sort of spirit he brings to this kind of film.

Rebecca, I had a lovely chat with Kaylee (Hottle), and she was saying how, on this film, she didn’t need to get anyone up to speed, in terms of their ASL.  As you’re close to her character, how did you find the evolution of working with her on the first film to this one?

Rebecca Hall: Well, firstly, can I say thank you for reporting that’s what she said, because I find that enormously gratifying.  It’s a great privilege and honour to get to acquire a whole other language through the course of making these movies, and also to work with Kaylee, who is formidable, as both an actor and as a person.  She has her values and her sense of integrity, her sense of what she represents as a deaf actor in a film on this scale, and what that means for her community.  She really understand that and takes pride in that.

And she is so smart.  And she was on the first one, but she was a kid, and I think we’ve both evolved, and our relationship has evolved, obviously, because she was a kid who had never been on a film set.  She took it in stride, incidentally, but it was more playful between us back then.  My ASL wasn’t up to speed.  Like, we would play stupid little games.  She would try me on how quickly I could sign the alphabet, and then she’s give me terrible eye rolls about how terrible my ASL was.  A lot of, “Oh, come on, you can do better.”

And then on this one, I just remembered that face of disappointment, and I was like, “I am not going to have that face.  I’m going to be on top of it this time.” So I showed up, and it filled me with such pride because she looked at me when I showed up.  I was like, (signing) “How are you?  How have your years been?  What have you been doing?” And I was signing everything! It was so rewarding.  And I would chat with her and her mom all the time.  I loved that. I love that element…

Brian Tyree Henry: There’s no greater feeling than when a teenager actually likes something you do.

Rebecca Hall: Yes!

Brian Tyree Henry: And as an adult you feel like you’re above it.  But, when it’s something you do, you’re like, “Oh my God, thank you.”

Rebecca Hall: There’s like a Tina Fey joke about having a teenage child is like having a crush in high school.  You’re like, “Do you like my dress?”

Brian Tyree Henry: “Is everything OK?!”

And you mentioned the playfulness, and Brian, it’s easy to say you’re the comic relief in this.  And I appreciated that the film leans into its bigness.  Everyone is having a great time.  Obviously, anything that’s filmed in Australia gets a shout out.  So, I wanted to congratulate all of you.  It’s just awesome to see big films on the big screen where they deserve to be seen.

Brian Tyree Henry: Exactly.

Rebecca Hall: On the big screen, yes.

Brian Tyree Henry: Go big or go home.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is screening in Australian theatres from March 28th, 2024.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.