‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ stars Julian Dennison, Brian Tyree Henry talk acting with monsters, character inspirations, returning to theaters

Noah Levine

The time has come for iconic monsters Godzilla and King Kong to face off yet again on the big screen. Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” is in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max on Wednesday.

The Daily Texan and other college journalists attended a virtual roundtable with cast members Julian Dennison (playing Josh Valentine) and Brian Tyree Henry (playing Bernie Hayes), touching on topics of working with large special effects, returning to theaters and achieving the perfect scream.

The Daily Texan: As actors, how do you ground yourself in the scene when so much of it is not physically on set and added in later with special effects?

Julian Dennison: It could be a bit overwhelming. The sets were massive. Sometimes you had to get a chiropractor because you are looking up so much … there’d be giant green screens and laser pointers and you would kind of lose it. We discussed with (director Adam Wingard) what it would look like. We just took a step back and were like, “This is how it’s going to be and bring your A-game.”

Brian Tyree Henry: Yeah, and scream when they tell you to scream. It’s OK to ask what level of scream you need. It’s like, are we screaming for our lives, are we screaming from fear (or) are we running and screaming at the same time? These are all things that are important to know for the scene to work. 

Noah Delgado (The State Press): Brian, the Godzilla series has always had roots in the realm of eco-horror and putting humans in their place. As a fan of the franchise, in what ways would you say this film honors that legacy as well as updates it?

BTH: I’m a huge geek of this universe, honestly. I remember when I was asked to play this part, I was like, ‘Wait, I get to be the crackpot scientist? I’ve never heard of Black guys getting to be the crackpot scientist.’ I wanted him to be the voice of reason, which he was. I wanted him to be the one that had the heart that you didn’t want to just toss away. 

Kennedy London (The Maroon Tiger): The film focuses on the rivalry between Godzilla and Kong. Why do you think it’s key to balance their perspectives in the story?

BTH: I never thought I’d say this, but I think these monsters are misunderstood. I think that they got the label of being monsters when actually they are kings, they are Titans. What I love about what Adam did with this movie is that he made them both incredibly complex. You actually care about what’s going on while also caring about the humans. 

JP Pak (Washington Square News): For a lot of people, “Godzilla vs. Kong” will be that first in-person $200-million blockbuster that we’ll see in theaters (since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.) What makes this movie a good in-person theater experience?

JD: I think right now, this is what we need. I miss going to theaters, eating popcorn and having a soda. It’s so cool that people are able to go back and watch a big blockbuster movie. … It’s fine if you have to watch it on the big screen or if you have to watch it at home.