“Godzilla vs Kong” has just been released to HBO Max. The blockbuster film is the fourth installment to the Godzilla monster series of films with an Indigenous New Zealand actor.
The film, budgeted at $200 million, holds space for actor Julian Dennison, who is known for such films as “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” by Taika Waititi and “Deadpool 2.”
Dennison told Indian Country Today of the appreciation he had for working with his fellow co-stars Millie Bobby Brown and Brian Tyree Henry and the film’s director Adam Wingard. He also spoke about working on a film filled with CGI.
He also discussed the importance of Indigenous inclusion in the film world and offered words of encouragement to aspiring Indigenous actors.
Dennison, who played Fire Fist in “DeadPool 2,” a young mutant who could shoot fire from his hands, is no stranger to acting on a film with extensive computer-generated imagery or as it is more popularly known and referred to in film, CGI.
“You have to go on to the set and obviously you can't work with Godzilla and King Kong because they're not real people. On set it is … obviously tennis balls and laser pointers ... it's like how you work with the energy in the room.”
Julian Dennison interview with Vincent Schilling - Godzilla vs. Kong
Images and video courtesy Warner Bros.
Dennison says it was “lovely” working with his co-stars Millie Bobby Brown and Brian Tyree Henry, “who brought their A-game.” He also says how he appreciated the insights offered by director Adam Wingard who gave him freedom within his role as Josh Valentine, a quirky teenager who works to infiltrate the corporate entities working to control Godzilla and Kong.
“I wanted Josh Valentine to be able to bring a sense of realism and a voice of reason into Godzilla. And I felt like it was very special for me to play him. A lot of the stuff that I do was a little bit impromptu,” Dennison said. “It was super fun.”
In addition to Dennison enjoying his portrayal as Josh Valentine in “Godzilla vs. Kong” he also acknowledged the importance of Indigenous voices in today’s film industry.
“It's really special that Indigenous people have a voice. I'm Māori, that's who we are in New Zealand. I think it's important, like what Taika Waititi said when he won the Oscar last year, ‘Indigenous people have a voice and it's time to stand up.’ I think it's very important that we acknowledge that we do have stories. We are storytellers, and we are the original storytellers. It's important that we stand up for ourselves and [show] that we do have a voice. It's so important to speak out. The world is an uncertain place and I think it's good to find some clarity in that. I think that clarity comes from us.”
Dennison says he would love to explore the world of filmmaking behind the camera as well as acknowledging the potential of Indigenous youth to bring their stories to the film world. He says the film industry has made positive changes, but still has room to grow.
“I definitely feel like it is going in a positive direction. We still do have a long way to go. We're not there yet. Hopefully one day, we will get there. I feel like it’s so important that we have a voice and that we play a part. I think it's very special for me and I've just enjoyed every second of that.”
Dennison, who made sure to give a shout to his co-stars by calling them “amazing actors” and to his “amazing director” Adam Wingard, he also offered words of support to aspiring actors, especially Indigenous hopefuls.
“Be yourself. I think people look at who they are, and then they see someone who isn't them and they say, and I think they go, 'If they're succeeding, the way they look or the way they do things, I need to do that to succeed. But I think ... be yourself. That's what I've always said. Be yourself. Don't try to be anyone you aren't. We are the original storytellers. We do have a special place in this industry.”
“We're going on a route where the industry wants to identify and really put in the spotlight, Indigenous stories and Indigenous actors. People just know that there's a heart and there's a soul behind us,” Dennison says.
“Be yourself. Be who you are and know where you come from. Stand firm in your beliefs and your people. You’ll make it.”