O’Shea Jackson Jr. made his film debut playing his real-life father, Ice Cube, in the critically heralded NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. But if you ask him what role he was born to play, he’ll tell you Chief Warrant Officer Barnes, G-Team member of Monarch in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
“There’s just certain things that you feel destined for,” Jackson told Nerdist during a set visit interview, “and Godzilla is only happening [for me now] because the little kid version O’Shea believes in Godzilla so bad. Before Straight Outta Compton, they asked me to list my five heroes and Godzilla was one of them.”
In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Jackson plays a hard-nosed soldier who works for Monarch in service of better understanding Titans like Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah. He describes his character as “chill” when it comes to interacting with 300-foot monsters. In real life, Jackson has no chill about this topic. His eyes glisten, his smile is dazzling, and his excitement to be on the set of this MonsterVerse movie was completely contagious.
“I’m nerding out pretty hard,” he confessed, and went on to tell us he is crazy for Godzilla in any incarnation. “I’m not even going to lie: the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, that Ferris Bueller one [the critically panned Mathew Broderick Godzilla from 1998], I love all Godzillas. I love Godzilla. I’m a huge fan.”
Jackson’s not the first from Straight Outta Compton to join the Monsterverse. Days after that movie premiered, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell were cast in Kong: Skull Island. And Jackson admits, he was pretty jealous, saying “I was so hurt when they got Kong after Straight Outta Compton!” But when a reporter asks if there’s a chance this trio could reteam for the in-the-works, Godzilla vs. Kong, he’s elated at the thought. “My mind would ooze out of my ears!” Jackson said, “I would love to be reunited with my fellows and to be on the biggest monster pay-per-view ever!”
But Jackson is already giddy over the Titan battles in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, in particular the eponymous creature’s throw down with his three-headed nemesis, King Ghidorah. “Just to speak as a Godzilla fan real quick,” he said, “There’s no way in the world Ghidorah is supposed to be in the second movie. This is supposed to be like stored and waited and last minute. And they put it in the second one and you’re in it! I’m losing my mind. Like anytime Ghidorah is mentioned, it’s just like, ‘No way. No Way! There’s no way that’s the second fight.’ And it goes down.”
Then, in a moment that reminded this reporter of Rogue One star Diego Luna’s deep love of Jabba The Hutt, Jackson told us about the time he got to touch Godzilla. “I got to touch his skin the other day,” Jackson said, referring to one of the film’s practical effects, “So, pretty big moment for me. That’s the closest I’ll ever get. And so it’s been fun. I’ve been taking pictures of set–legally taking pictures of set,” he clarifies, with a nod to the onset PR rep, “And I’m just having a ball.”
Then, from one Godzilla fan to another, I had to ask one big question. Imagine the Titans are real and Monarch asks you to leave your life behind, fake your own death to chase, and study monsters, would you?
“As long as I can watch the Lakers I’m with it,” Jackson declared. “I’m down, no problem.” Then after a moment’s consideration, he added, “My mom would know. ‘Yeah, he didn’t die.'”
Godzilla: King of the Monsters opens March 31st.
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How Godzilla: King of the Monsters compares to 2014’s Godzilla
Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks