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Meet the Man Who First Played Godzilla

The world of monster movies owes a lot to the efforts of the first man to ever portray Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima. Producers from Toho Pictures recruited him after a particularly fiery performance as an airline pilot…by which we mean, as a stuntman in 1953’s Eagle of the Pacific he was literally on fire in the film. When Godzilla director Ishirō Honda saw this, he knew Nakajima could handle the arduous task of Godzilla-ing he was planning.

A recent video on the Great Big Story YouTube channel taught us a little something about our favorite kaiju and the man behind the monster. Nakajima played the big baddie in a total of 12 Godzilla films, but what’s really impressive is how difficult the stunt work initially was. The actor explains in the video that due to a lack of materials in post-WWII Japan, the suit was partially constructed with ready-mixed cement, making it unbearably cumbersome. All in all, the suit weighed in at around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and, as you can imagine, got incredibly hot to wear. Still, Nakajima endured the discomfort and gave the world the first city-smashing performances of a monster that’s still relevant today.

If you’re feeling up to it the next time you go to the gym, head over the free weight area and (even for moment) do your best to pick up the weight Nakajima wore as Godzilla and imagine having to run around a blisteringly hot, explosion and smoke-filled movie set with limited visibility in a sauna-like suit. Chances are you’ll find a new appreciation of the world’s most iconic kaiju and a bonus fact to impress all your gym pals with. “I’m doing the Godzilla workout today!” you’ll say, as you knock over people and equipment in your path to destructive fitness.

What are your favorite Godzilla films? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Image: Great Big Story | Toho Pictures

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