Haruo Naka­jima, ac­tor who played orig­i­nal Godzilla, dies at 88

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Haruo Naka­jima, the ac­tor who played the orig­i­nal Godzilla in the 1954 Ja­panese clas­sic, has died aged 88. Naka­jima, who played the iconic mon­ster a dozen times on screen, died of pneu­mo­nia on Mon­day after be­ing hos­pi­talised last month. The Ja­panese ac­tor also starred in Akira Kuro­sawa's clas­sic Seven Sa­mu­rai in the same year as the orig­i­nal Godzilla film. Born in Yaga­mata, Ja­pan, in 1929 Naka­jima started his film ca­reer as a stunt­man, get­ting his first act­ing break at the age of 25 as the in­stantly recog­nis­able gi­ant lizard. In the film, Godzilla is awak­ened by a hy­dro­gen bomb test and comes out of the sea, swim­ming to Ja­pan and crush­ing Tokyo. The film in­spired sev­eral adap­ta­tions, in­clud­ing an Amer­i­can ver­sion in the same year co-di­rected by Terry O Morse and Ishiro Honda - the orig­i­nal direc­tor - titled Godzilla: King Of The Mon­sters. But Naka­jima was not a fan of the adap­ta­tion. In 2014, he gave an in­ter­view where he said: "I am the orig­i­nal, the real thing. "My Godzilla was the best." The gi­ant mon­ster acted as a nu­clear anal­ogy for a griev­ing Ja­pan, just nine years after the coun­try suf­fered the two atomic bomb at­tacks which closed World War Two. "Godzilla is a crea­ture of the Amer­i­cans," Naka­jima told CBS. "Godzilla's breath is nu­clear ra­di­a­tion. He showed our au­di­ences that atomic bombs are fright­en­ing." Ac­cord­ing to the film com­pany's web­site, Naka­jima pre­pared to play the imag­i­nary crea­ture by vis­it­ing a Tokyo zoo for a week to an­a­lyse the moves of ele­phants, bears and go­ril­las. He had to wear a 220lb suit which was "too heavy" and he strug­gled to walk just 30ft while wear­ing it. Naka­jima po­et­i­cally said that play­ing the gi­ant mon­ster gave him "a sense of iso­la­tion", likely re­fer­ring to 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 and its le­gacy will con­tinue in 2019, with the Hollywood block­buster re­make of Godzilla: King Of The Mon­sters. Sky news

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