Being as I’m such a fan of the Big G, it’s with a heavy heart that I bring you the news that Haruo Najakima has died. You may not know the name, and you probably wouldn’t know what he looks like. However, if you’ve seen any Japanese monster movie from the 1950’s, the 1960’s and the early 1970’s, the chances are you will have seen him in action.
Nakajima did appear a few small roles in films including Seven Samurai, but it was wearing an almost unbearably heavy latex suit that gave him minimal visibility and minimal ventilation that he became a screen star. It’s probably the dream of many Godzilla fans to put on that suit and destroy a model city, but from what I’ve read playing Godzilla is absolute hell and Nakajima even passed out on a few occasions. Nonetheless Nakajima played the King of the Monsters twelve times, beginning with Godzilla/Gojira in 1954 all the way through to 1972’s Godzilla Vs Gigan. He also played other monsters in the Toho universe including Mothra, Rodan and King Kong. Eventually even with his incredible strength and endurance, Nakajima had had enough in 1972 though he did later become a frequent guest at conventions.
Godzilla movies were generally looked down upon by movie critics in the past but Nakjima always took his job seriously even when the films got sillier, and always seemed proud of his association with Godzilla. He never really got the attention he deserved for his herculean efforts, a great shame when you think of how motion capture performers get some recognition these days. His last interview, which he gave last year, can be seen below.
RIP Mr Nakajima, a true Cult Icon. Though you did it without showing your face, you still brought pleasure to millions.