Ray Sefo, a New Zealand kickboxer who became a successful MMA fighter in Japan, was cast by Ryuhei Kitamura to play the part of Glenn in Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. Among Mr. Sefo’s accomplishments in the fighting world are defeating Jerome Le Banner in the first round of their fight, as well as being a finalist at the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2000. In 2008, Mr. Sefo spoke with Brett Homenick about his role in Godzilla: Final Wars.
Brett Homenick: How’d you get involved with Godzilla: Final Wars?
Ray Sefo: Well, what happened was the director had obviously (been) watching fights and had seen Gary (Goodridge, who played Nick) fight, also. So we basically were picked to do it. We had a month, and they gave us the script. We went over it, and actually a week later we were shooting.
BH: Now describe your day of filming when you shot your scene.
RS: I’ve been — not on the other end of the camera, but on the other side of the cast where I used to be an extra when I first started modeling. Back then, you had to be on the set at, like, five o’clock in the morning, and you’d be one of the last guys to leave the set, also. But when you go on the set as an actor, (it’s) maybe two hours before you actually go on camera, and get your own trailer, so that’s the fun part about it. And they have great food on set. But the whole day was pretty much — you go on, and you do your bits, and you come off, set different angles, and then you go back on. The whole day is like that.
BH: How would you describe Ryuhei Kitamura, the director? What was your working relationship with him like?
RS: It was really awesome. He was actually a really awesome director to work with. I worked on a couple of films, and one of the things I always tell the director is that they’re the boss, and they should tell me what to do, and I do it.
So, I said, I’m a professional, and I’m willing to be directed in whatever way possible. And so, when I work with directors like that, it just makes your job and my job a lot easier. You know, he was really cool with everything, and every now and then he would change certain things with us, the way we presented the actual dialogue or certain things he wanted out of us, so he was an easy person to work with.
BH: Do you remember what kind of direction he gave you, in terms of telling you and your partner Gary how to act or how to react in the scene?
RS: There’s one set where we, Gary and I, actually bounce off each other where he’s actually on the switchboard, I think, and I’m just opposite him. We basically went through the dialogue, and then the director came back in and said, “You know what, change it. I want Ray to be the guy who’s gonna be ‘whatever,’ and Gary’s gonna be the guy that’s gonna freak out.” (laughs) So that was one of the things in terms of direction.
BH: You didn’t appear with him onscreen, but did you meet with Don Frye at all, or even away from the film? Did you ever meet him at all?
RS: Yeah, yeah. Actually, he’s a real gentleman. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. (laughs) I think I met Don probably six, seven years ago at a Pride event, and then I met him again when he came over to K-1. You sit down and have coffee with him and talk to him from time to time. And we were on set the same day, also.
BH: Did he talk about at all what he thought about being in the Godzilla movie?
RS: No, no, he didn’t. I mean, we just thought it was an awesome opportunity, and we kind of laughed about it — likewise with Gary. But other than that, we didn’t really talk too much about it.
BH: Well, how about Gary Goodridge, the person who appeared in the scene with you. Talk about working with him on the film.
RS: As his image is a fighter, he comes across as the mean tough guy. I’m kind of like the opposite to Gary. I was surprised ‘cause he just (rattles) off his dialogue, and he was actually acting. That was really cool because when you work with people you can just bounce off, it’s so much easier. Even though that dialogue wasn’t that long at all, on camera you can look better than what you are, if you will. It was easy to work with Gary; he’s awesome.
BH: Do you remember how many takes it took for you to film your scenes?
RS: There were times where one take would (cut it). And then there was another set-up where, I think, two takes, but no more than three takes. The director was like, “Cool.” He was happy with it, and that was that. And then they changed whatever the set-up was gonna be.
BH: Did you have any control over your dialogue or just how your character acted at all in the scene?
RS: No, not really. Whatever they had on the script, that’s what we had to act out. But it was so funny, though, because Gary and I — this is a funny one — where Gary and I had the actual script, and we’re heading back to the hotel. This was the day that we met the director and the producer. So we’re heading back to the hotel, and I looked at the script, and Gary looked at it. I said to Gary, “I think you ought to be Glenn.” Funnily enough, we get a call, and Gary’s gonna be Glenn! (laughs) Gary was like, “Gee, you’re right!” (Ray Sefo ended up playing Glenn in the movie.)
BH: (laughs) Do you remember where your scenes were filmed?
RS: I think it was Tokyo, but I don’t remember the name of the studio, and also I think it was about an hour away from where we were. We were kind of like based in the middle of Tokyo, so wherever it was, it was definitely about an hour, hour and a half, from where we were.
BH: Were you at the premiere in Hollywood in 2004?
RS: No. I wanted to go, but we were stuck in Japan. I think when they did the premiere, we were a week from fighting, actually. So we couldn’t go, and it was a bummer because I live in Los Angeles.
BH: (laughs) That’s quite ironic! Well, overall, what did you think about working on the film?
RS: I enjoyed it. For me, at the moment, I have a few other projects that are in the works right now in terms of film. So, for me, back before K-1 came along and before the full-time kickboxing started, I was modeling full-time and doing television in New Zealand. So it’s something I’ve always wanted to get back into, and hopefully get into much bigger roles.
So any time I spend in front of the camera as an actor, it’s just a lot of fun for me. It’s so different from being in front of the camera as a fighter and being in the arena. Again, for me, it’s challenging because I don’t have a lot of experience with acting, so any time that I get something and I’m in front of a camera to act, then that’s actually quite exciting.