Monday, August 7, 2017

Haruo Nakajima: A Monster Life Remembered

 Haruo Nakajima onstage at an event in Tokyo in March 2015. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Word has started circulating that Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla suit actor who portrayed the King of the Monsters from 1954 until 1972, has just passed away at the age of 88. While Nakajima-san's uncanny acting ability inside the monster suit is what attracted his legions of fans around the world in the beginning, it was his warmth and friendliness outside the suit that made him an international legend.

I'm a firm believer that a picture is worth a thousand words (and then some), so I'd like to take this moment to share a few of the photos I've taken of Nakajima-san over the years.

Nakajima-san discusses the art of suit-acting at a Godzilla-related event in March 2015.

The year 1954 was a big one in the life of Nakajima-san. Not only did he play Godzilla in the King of the Monsters' first film, he also appeared in Akira Kurosawa's seminal Seven Samurai, often called the greatest Japanese film of all time.

Two heroes, coming to the rescue!

Nakajima-san and assistant SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano discuss working on King Kong Escapes (1967) under the direction of Eiji Tsuburaya in September 2015.

Suit-acting explained: Nakajima-san gesticulates as he demonstrates the finer points of bringing monsters to life.

"Two Godzillas! What does it mean?!" It means that Nakajima-san and his suit-acting successor Kenpachiro Satsuma (Godzilla from 1984 until 1995) show the audience how to move like the King of the Monsters in October 2014.

Nakajima-san remembers working on his last film as Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) in September 2014.

Godzilla vs. Gigan star Hiroshi Ishikawa helps Nakajima-san with his microphone during a Q&A.

Nakajima-san talks shop next to Godzilla series star Akira Takarada at Super Festival in January 2016.

Nakajima-san joins King Kong Escapes co-stars Linda Miller and Akira Takarada at Super Festival.

Thank you for the memories, Nakajima-san. Rest in peace.

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