The actor who knocked down miniature buildings and stomped tiny bridges wearing a rubber suit as the original 1954 version of Godzilla has died. The AP reports that Haruo Nakajima died Monday of pneumonia. He was 88.
“Vivacious and energetic, Nakajima said he invented the character from scratch, and developed it by going to a zoo to study how elephants and bears moved. He said it was important to show the pathos of the creature, which could only smash everything in its way,” the AP reports. “The theme of his Godzilla was grand and complex, he said, addressing universal human problems, as it spoke to a Japan that still remembered wartime suffering.”
In a 2014 interview with the AP at his apartment in suburban Tokyo, Nakajima said: “If Godzilla can’t walk properly, it’s nothing but a freak show.” He added: “It’s not some cowboy movie.”
Godzilla went on to be a massive film franchise, with the monster appearing in about 40 movies. Nakajima played the creature in the first 12 Japanese productions, through “Godzilla vs. Gigan” in 1972.
Nakajima also appeared in other films, including playing a bandit in “Seven Samurai.” He played a number of other monsters as well, including in “Rodan” and “Mothra.”
Here’s a clip about Nakajima posted earlier this year …