You get the sense talking with Gareth Edwards that the Godzilla director is really going to enjoy his time off. Edwards was a relatively green (pun intended) choice by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures to direct the blockbuster, and his first feature was 2010’s (very) modestly sized critical rave Monsters.
“I made a low-budget film and ended up going to a lot of meetings in Los Angeles, like you do. And they all tell you that they want to make films with you, but then most of them don’t mean it,” the filmmaker says, calling the Georgia Straight from Los Angeles and still sounding exhausted. When he was offered the job of directing the world’s most famous oversize lizard a few months after talking to Legendary, Edwards found himself broadsided by more than just the surprise.
“Yeah, Godzilla is an icon,” he states. “I’d be crazy not to. But I was more nervous about saying no to the idea and turning it down. And so I kind of had to do it, really.”
Helming an epic action science-fiction flick and tent-pole release for one of Hollywood’s most storied studios was, obviously, a dramatic change of pace for the U.K.–born director: the difference in budget between Monsters and Godzilla was a paltry $159 million and change, after all. Asked how he was able to transition between the two, Edwards offers a refreshingly human response. “If you really think about how much money is being spent all the time, it would paralyze you. So I kind of tried to convince myself it was a passion project that just happened to have 300 spectators watching us every day as we filmed.”
With a chuckle, he adds: “There’s loads of people who worked hard on the movie and I had no idea what they did.”
Although Edwards insists that he enjoyed the work, he does mention that he would have preferred a little more time to check out the scenery in Vancouver, where the film was shot. “I have not been back there since we finished filming,” he says, adding: “Vancouver, thankfully, doubles really well for both Japan and San Francisco.
“Vancouver itself is an amazing city; I just fell in love with it,” Edwards continues. “But making a movie is a bit of a marathon, to say the least. So considering how traumatic it is making a movie like this, I have a lot of affection for Vancouver. I want to go back at some point, when we don’t have to get any shots or worry about storyboarding or anything.”
Edwards also has high praise for the technical expertise that defines Hollywood North. “Vancouver now is probably one of the best places in the world to make a film,” he says. “Everyone there is pretty much the A-Team of movies. You look at all the films that have come out in the last couple years; a lot of the big, massive hits have been from Vancouver. And so it felt like it went really smoothly. There was no real drama or anything. And on top of that, everyone is so nice and polite. It’s not the Hollywood experience everyone warns you about. It was probably the best place to film your first-ever studio movie.”