Monday, August 7, 2017

Haruo Nakajima

Actor; the first and best interpreter of the 'creature suit' role of Godzilla -- via the International Business Times. Who could rampage like Haruo? Nobody. He got his start as a bit actor with Toho Studios -- he worked in Kurosawa's Stray Dog in 1949, but his scenes got cut. Three films later, he was back as a bandit in Seven Samurai. His very next film, he donned the daikaiju, or monster outfit, to portray the King of the Monsters in Ishiro Honda's 1954 classic.

Nakajima continued in the role in 12 straight Godzilla films, through 1972's Godzilla vs. Gigan. In the meantime, he portrayed many other"larger-than-life"  characters. (Radon, Moguera, Baran, Magma, Baragon, Gomess, Gaira, Kiyla, Kingukongu aka King Kong, U-Tom, and others.) Japan's tokusatsu (special effects) films combined full-body costumes, miniature sets, and slowed footage to create asense of the epic on a budget. Did it work? Well, not really, but it made for quite an enjoyable childhood of viewing.

He moved effortlessly between this work and appearcances in such films as the key Japanese new-wave horror film Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People), and Yojimbo and The Hidden Fortress. He suffered for his art -- he experienced burns, shocks, and near-suffocation on set. The Big Green Guy wouldn't have had so much charm without Nakajima inside animating him.