Ja­pan ac­tor who played orig­i­nal Godzilla dies at 88

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Haruo Naka­jima, the ac­tor who played Ja­pan's iconic city-wreck­ing monster Godzilla in the orig­i­nal 1954 movie, has died, film stu­dio Toho said yes­ter­day. He was 88. Naka­jima, who went on to ap­pear as the iconic crea­ture a dozen times, died of pneu­mo­nia on Mon­day, said a spokesman for the stu­dio that pro­duced the Godzilla films. Orig­i­nally a stunt­man, Naka­jima at the age of 25 first took on the role of the gi­ant monster awak­ened by a hy­dro­gen bomb test to rise out of a roil­ing sea and swim to Ja­pan where it crushes Tokyo.

Godzilla, a walk­ing, ra­di­a­tion-breath­ing anal­ogy for nu­clear dis­as­ter res­onated in Ja­pan. Just nine years ear­lier the coun­try had suf­fered the world's first, and still only, atomic bomb at­tacks at the hands of the United States in the clos­ing days of World War II. The US also car­ried out a hy­dro­gen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the South Pa­cific in 1954, ex­pos­ing a Ja­panese fish­ing boat to nu­clear fall­out, sick­en­ing the 23 crew and even­tu­ally killing the captain. Naka­jima pre­pared to play the imag­i­nary crea­ture by vis­it­ing a Tokyo zoo for a week to an­a­lyze the moves of ele­phants, bears and go­ril­las, ac­cord­ing to the Toho web­site.

He said that the suit for the orig­i­nal film was too heavy and he could barely walk for 10 me­ters (33 feet). The suit weighed around 100 kilo­grams (220 pounds), Toho said. Naka­jima also said he "felt a sense of iso­la­tion" in the be­gin­ning be­cause of the thick­ness of the rub­ber used in the suit that he could not re­move with­out help. "But I started to en­joy play­ing Godzilla," he said. The fran­chise has pro­duced 29 films in Ja­pan, ac­cord­ing to Toho. The orig­i­nal movie "Go­jira"-a Ja­panese port­man­teau of "go­rilla" and "ku­jira" (whale) -- was a mega hit, draw­ing 9.6 mil­lion view­ers to cin­e­mas. — AFP

Orig­i­nal Godzilla suit ac­tor Haruo Naka­jima, who has played his role as the monster, speaks dur­ing an in­ter­view at his home in Sagami­hara, near Tokyo. — AP

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