Japanese actor Haruo Nakajima, who played iconic movie monster Godzilla across 12 films through the 1950s and 70s, has died at the age of 88. Considered one of the best to suit up as the city-bothering kaiju, the actor also appeared in Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai.
Born in 1929, Nakajima’s career began at the age of 33 in Sword for Hire, before roles in The Woman Who Touched the Legs, Eagle of the Pacific, Farewell Rabaul and then Seven Samurai in 1954.
That same year he played the title role in the very first Godzilla film. He didn’t know it at the time, but the role would make him a bonafide legend of cinema.
He went on to play the role again in 12 consecutive sequel as well as playing fellow towering beasties Rodan, Mothra and King Kong.
After his first outing, Nakajima played Gojira again in Godzilla Rides Again, King Kong vs Godzilla, Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs the Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, All Monsters Attack and Godzilla vs Hedorah.
His last appearance as the character came in 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan before a final film appearance in disaster movie Tidal Wave.
Later in his career Nakajima made appearances at a string of fan conventions celebrating the various movie monsters he brought to the big screen. A biography about his life on film was released in 2010.
Godzilla has had an enduring legacy on the big screen, with his most recent outing, Shin Godzilla, releasing last year under original studio Toho. The last Hollywood outing was in 2014, with a sequel currently in production.
The new film will depict Godzilla’s fight against Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah, of which Nakajima played the former two and fought the latter on screen as the great lizard. In 2020 Hollywood’s new Godzilla will clash with the new King Kong introduced in this year’s reboot, Skull Island.
Earlier this year Nakajima was interviewed about his time as Godzilla, in web series Great Big Story. In the video (embedded below) he explains how he researched for the role and how the costume he wore weighed an incredible 100kg