I don't usually make posts like this, but this time it hits home; hard. Mr. Haruo Nakajima (中島春雄) honestly is the entire reason I started on my journey into becoming a film director, along with the likes of Tomoyuki Tanaka (田中 友幸), Ishirō Honda (本多猪四郎), and Eiji Tsuburaya (円谷 英二). When i was younger I was swept away by the Kaiju genre, with Godzilla starting it all. The moment I found out it was possible to create my own movies using my dingy old camera, I was off making dinosaur and Godzilla films; inspired much by what I saw in the kaiju movies.
As I grew older, the more I learned about the original Gojira (ゴジラ, 1954) and the series in general, the more I gained respect for it. From it's deep meaning of nuclear dangers and man's arrogance to the intricacy of the models and suits, I was floored by how much effort was put into the movies.
But Haruo Nakajima stood out from the crowd. This man was one of the most hard working people ever to cross the silver screen; his determination and valor were qualities unlike any other.
Before he played Godzilla, he worked as a stuntman in the 1953 film Eagle of the Pacific (太平洋の鷲); where he was lit on fire with gunpowder, having no objection to it. When Ishiro Honda asked him to play Godzilla in the first movie, Mr. Nakajima went to the zoo to study large animals like gorillas and elephants and how they moved around so that he could replicate their size and power.
But this would not come easy; the suit weighed over 100 lbs and temperatures inside could easily reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 15 minutes. The intense stage lights and the literal wall of real fire on set only made matters worse. Between takes, crew members would drain literal pools of sweat from the feet of the rubber suit. Passing out on set and in costume was a common occurrence. But did Nakajima give up? No. He did not.
He went on to play Godzilla for 12 more consecutive films; not to mention a great handful of other kaiju in other movies with each film presenting its handful of intense challenges.
In Rodan (空の大怪獣 ラドン, 1956), Mr. Nakajima was hoisted into the air in flight; only to come crashing back down when a wheel on the wire frame snapped. Had it not been for the pool of water beneath him, he would have died. But did Nakajima give up? No. He did not.
In Varan: The Unbelievable (大怪獣バラン, 1958), an accident caused an explodable truck to sear his stomach. But did Nakajima give up? No. He did not.
In Mothra vs. Godzilla (空の大怪獣 ラドン, 1964), when a pyrotechnic charge set off, Mr. Nakajima was accidentally set on fire in costume. But did Nakajima give up? No. He did not.
In Godzilla vs. Hedorah (ゴジラ対ヘドラ, 1971), he was tasked in bathing in sludge and mud, in costume (they weren't water tight, mind you), to get a scene right. But did Nakajima give up? No. he did not.
No matter what was thrown at him, no matter what came his way, Mr. Nakajima pushed through and got the job done. He never backed down, he never swayed, and he never failed to deliver; only retiring after his dear friend Mr. Tsuburaya passed away.
Mr. Nakajima brought life to Godzilla; the kaiju's character would be nothing had Mr. Nakajima not been the one to step into that rubber suit in 1954 and the 12 films that followed. Had it not been Nakajima in that costume, I cannot confidently say that it the film would have had the same impact that it did. He was by far the most determined, passionate, and all the round bravest actors the world of cinema has ever seen.
I only wish I could have met him.
Farewell, Mr. Haruo Nakajima. You will be deeply missed; Godzilla and his fans owe everything to you and your performance.
I owe everything.
Last edited by NateZilla10000
on Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:43 am, edited 3 times in total.