Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire – Dan Stevens On Pairing A Roaring Monster Film With Heart And Humour

'Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire' - Image © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

The epic battle continues.

Legendary Pictures’ cinematic Monsterverse follows up the explosive showdown of 'Godzilla Vs. Kong' with an all-new adventure, 'Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire'. It pits the almighty Kong and the fearsome Godzilla against a colossal undiscovered threat hidden within our world, challenging their very existence – and our own.

Director Adam Wingard is at the helm, with screenplay by Terry Rossio. 'Godzilla X Kong' stars Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, and Fala Chen.

Here, Dan Stevens (who plays Trapper) chats about entering the Monsterverse, what the film is all about, and just what audiences can expect from this epic new adventure.

This is your first time working in the Legendary Monsterverse. Did you ever think, growing up, becoming a young actor, that you would be in a big monster movie?
Definitely not! It is really a bit of a dream to share a screen with cultural icons like Kong and Godzilla, the two of them. Then you have screen legends like Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry as well, that’s extra special. It’s a big one. It’s a first for me.

Without giving away too much, what is the story? What are the driving forces in this film?
Obviously, the big draw and the main event is Godzilla and Kong. I think with this one, we really get to deepen our exploration of Kong’s story and his backstory. The technology that’s available now affords, really, quite a rich texture to that storyline that we might not have gotten years before. That’s obviously a big draw, along with the human storyline as well. There’s a rich and very heartfelt story between Rebecca Hall’s character, Ilene Andrews, and her adopted daughter, Jia, played by Kaylee Hottle. There’s that, but then there’s also a huge amount of fun, and action-adventure that goes alongside it. . . And that’s really where Trapper, my character, comes in, and has a lot of fun interacting with Bernie, who’s Brian Tyree Henry’s character. There’s some action beats, there’s some heartfelt beats, there’s some humour. It’s got it all.

How are Kong and Godzilla, as far as your scene partners go? How was that fun for you?
Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. All of these movies really require a big imagination, and it doesn’t get much bigger than imagining those guys wreaking havoc alongside you. My character has to interact with Kong quite a bit, and it’s pretty interesting. It’s one of the biggest co-stars I’ve ever had to work with, for sure.

How about working in some of these really remote, practical locations, like Daintree Forest? Was it exciting? Was it scary?
For me, it was very exciting. I love getting out in the wild, and seeing new parts of the world. For someone like Brian Tyree Henry, less exciting, a bit more terrifying, and that in itself, for me, was quite fun, to just enjoy him not enjoying being near spiders and snakes, and all sorts. I think it’s the first time I’ve been on a set that had a snake wrangler just standing by, in case a python decided to climb on the crane, which did happen. It was just an amazing day, where they’re like, “Okay, we’ve just got to pause for five minutes while we move this giant snake that’s decided to visit our set.” It was pretty fun.

You also had some really incredible stunts to achieve. We see you dropping into Kong’s mouth. How was that? Exciting? Fun? Challenging?
It was all of those things. It was a very long drop. We were up on the roof of this massive studio, dropping down – I think it was about 65 feet, the drop. It felt a long way when they hoist you up there. . . But also, a very cool character introduction; a great way to introduce that character to this world. I love doing stuff like that, so it was equal measures thrilling and terrifying.

No fear of heights for you then?
A tiny bit, but not too bad.

Movies like this will get you over that, probably pretty quickly, right?

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Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens - Image © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I understand you and Rebecca Hall have been friends for quite awhile. Was it fun working together?
Yeah, it’s always great fun working with Rebecca. We’ve known each other since our college days, over 20 years ago. We started our careers together working in theater. We did another movie called 'Permission' a few years back, and there’ve been various things over the years that we’ve talked about working on. It was great to get to work with her again. It’s always a pleasure to work with friends, really.

Your director, Adam Wingard, master of the Monsterverse, you guys also go back a bit.
We do, yeah. And Simon Barrett, one of our writers who wrote 'The Guest' with Adam; we had Tom Hammock, our production designer, who also worked on 'The Guest'. There was a little team of people who’ve worked their way up to this scale of movie, which is really lovely, and it’s really special again to get to work with friends, but also to see how they have preserved the spirit of independent filmmaking, just on a larger scale – really we've just been given bigger toys to play with.

Because of the amazing visuals in the Monsterverse movies, the way the Titans are integrated into real world locations, it feels like they do exist in our world. But if they did really exist, what do you feel their purpose would be?
They do, yeah. It’s interesting, particularly with the Godzilla myth and where that mythology stemmed from, along with what Godzilla is there to represent, what he’s there to serve. In part, he’s there to protect humanity, and in part to destroy. He’s almost born out of some of our worst parts, our worst instincts, born from nuclear holocaust. He is there to also protect and destroy. It’s a very interesting myth that Godzilla represents, and I think that’s part of the enduring appeal of a story like this.

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Image © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The realisation of these creatures, too, is pretty incredible. From what your experience was filming it, how did it feel to actually finally see those beasts, especially Kong? How was that for you as an audience member?
It’s really wonderful. One of the things that I really admired about the last film that Adam created was how advanced the technology is now – that you can really get a storyline full of character through this creature that, decades before, might just have been a roaring monster that trashes some stuff. Actually, a huge chunk of the movie is almost a silent film with these characters interacting, and you really get soulful beats. You get action; you get heartfelt, sweet moments; you get comedy beats. All of these things are possible now. Obviously, it’s fun to see what we created, and how it came together, but really, a huge chunk of the film I had nothing to do with. I never saw them making it. I get to enjoy that as anybody does, with my popcorn, just wide-eyed at how they’ve created this world. The scope of the character of those sections is really to be admired.

What do you think or hope audiences are in for when they finally get to see 'Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire'?
I think the same as you would hope for all of these films. It’s just a wild ride. I want people to go see this in as big a format as they can, with the biggest, best sound system. That’s certainly how I enjoy consuming a film like this, and just to be thoroughly entertained. I talked to a lot of people when I was making this, and they said, “We just love the monster battles”. I’m under no illusion that people come to see these films for the two main guys, really. The human element is really a fun side show, and I hope they’re entertained by that as well.

'Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire' is in cinemas 28 March.

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