Darren Schnase appears as the flamboyant gangster in Ryuhei Kitamura’s Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and even though he had just a small amount of screen time, Mr. Schnase managed to outshine many of the film’s monsters. In 2005, Mr. Schnase answered a few questions about his turn in Godzilla’s 50th anniversary film.
Q: Had you thought about becoming an actor before your role in (Godzilla:) Final Wars?
Darren Schnase: Yes I had. I did a three-year Degree at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art), a prestigious acting school in Sydney, Australia, whose previous students include the likes of Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, and Miranda Otto. When I landed Godzilla, I’d been out of school for about three years, so all in all about 6-7 years before Godzilla came along.
Q: How did you get involved in the film?
DS: My agent called me up for the audition, which I went along to, then I had one callback before I found out that I had the job.
Q: What was Ryuhei Kitamura like to work with?
DS: Ryuhei was amazing. He’s a real actor’s director. He was totally open to suggestions that the three of us that were in that particular scene had to offer, even letting us play around with the dialogue to make it sound more authentic.
Q: How did you get along with the cast and crew?
DS: The cast and crew were great. Mick Preston who plays the NYC police officer (and I) have become really good mates since then. The Japanese crew were just great — so polite and always had a smile on there faces and laughing at our bad jokes, even though their English wasn’t that good and finding it difficult to communicate with us. Very efficient workers.
Q: Do you remember who wrote your dialogue? It was interesting, to say the least!
DS: I have no idea who wrote the dialogue, but I do remember that we rewrote a bit of it as it just didn’t sound authentic.
Q: Did you do any preparation and/or research for your role?
DS: I just got together with a couple of mates of mine, African-Americans that were living in Australia and listened to them having conversations and listened to some dialect tapes I had at home. And Mike (the homeless guy in the scene) was actually a native from NY, so I chatted with him a bit on the day of the shoot, and he gave me a few points.
Q: Whose decision was it to redub some of your more “colorful” dialogue?
DS: I don’t know if it was Ryuhei’s or the producers’ decision, but we added quite a bit of cursing when we filmed it. Then when we got to Tokyo, they told us that it was a PG film, so obviously the curses had to go. So it was quite funny to see the scene on the big screen. You can’t take it too seriously; you just have to laugh at it.
Q: Do you have any interesting or funny stories to tell about your experience on the film?
DS: Nothing majorly funny happened on the shoot. The only thing that comes to mind was the dubbing of our scene. It looks like something out of one of those traditional Chinese films where the lip-syncing is all over the place.
Q: How would you rate the experience overall?
DS: Getting paid to fly to Tokyo and being put up in a luxury hotel in Shibuya for a couple of days, it was a pretty amazing gig.
Q: What did you think of the film?
DS: I thought it held true to the traditional Japanese style of Godzilla along with the technology of today’s CG. I really enjoyed it. The funny thing was when they had a go at the American Godzilla in the film, it brought the house down.
Q: Were you a Godzilla fan before working on the film?
DS: Not really, but I’ll definitely be going through the Godzilla archives and looking through the 50-year history of the big fella.
Q: Is it true that pimpin’ ain’t easy?
DS: Not when you get blown up in a ball of fire by a 100-meter-wide flying monster, it isn’t! (laughs)