In March 2019, a group of journalists and I got to visit the set of Godzilla vs. Kong. In the climactic battle of Legendary and Warner Bros’ “Monsterverse”, the two titans go head-to-head with the fate of the planet on the line as the organization Monarch works to restore balance against the evil corporation Apex. Check out our set visit coverage to find out what we learned about the upcoming film.
During our visit, we got the chance to sit down and talk with Millie Bobby Brown, who reprises her role as Madison from Godzilla: King of the Monsters and co-star Julian Dennison, who plays her friend Josh. During our conversation, they talked about how Madison has changed since King of the Monsters, what it was like screen testing together, how Dennison and co-star Brian Tyree Henry teased Brown about her British accent, the craziest scene they had to film, and more.
Check out the full interview below. Godzilla vs. Kong arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31st.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
So, we were told it’s been five years since King of the Monsters in the timeline of this. What is your character dealing with in terms of the fallout from that movie?
MILLIE BOBBY BROWN: Okay, awesome. So, five years have gone by and Madison has grown up. It’s definitely a coming-of-age story for her. Her storyline has definitely evolved greatly in the way she deals with things, her attitude towards life, how much more stronger of a person. Really trying to follow in her mother’s footsteps as well as strength wise she’s becoming more strong, more independent and understanding what she needs to do. Five years are gone by and she’s basically a badass.
How would you describe her in connection with Godzilla?
BROWN: Yeah. I mean, the first movie King of the Monsters, her relationship with Godzilla was pretty distant. It was only really like what talks about him. And she was, I’m sure, very curious. There are moments in King of the Monsters, where she gets to have amazing scenes with him, but definitely this movie, Godzilla versus King Kong, it’s much more about the technical side of it, learning more about his, the data of him as a Titan. It’s much more technical and she’s becoming more knowledgeable of him.
Do you guys speak to each other’s dynamic in this movie, play off each other?
JULIAN DENNISON: I think because my character, Josh, he’s kind of a nerd. He doesn’t really have a lot of friends and Madison’s kind of is his only friend and he’s kind of always trailing behind her and she’s always very direct. And because over the last five years…As she’s become such a strong character, such a badass. He’s kind of the realist in the duo, and he kind of brings it, “Oh, we shouldn’t do that because we’ll die.” And she’s, “No, it will be fine.” So, I think they play very well. And they’re a very good mix of just craziness.
Where did Josh come from?
DENNISON: He’s this nerd and he meets Madison and he’s kind of… When Madison needs something done and she doesn’t want to do it. I need this password and he’ll be like, “Oh okay. I have no other friends, so what else am I going to do?” So that’s Josh, and he gets dragged into this.
BROWN: Yeah, but he’s a perfect fit because he is the realist and he’s also just absolutely, utterly adorable. Everybody is going to fall in love with him because Madison has, and you can tell—He’s taken her in after such a tragedy after the first movie. He’s taken her under her wing and much as she’s a force of nature and she is very direct and she does feel this vulnerable side when she’s around him. He takes care of her in a silent way. And I mean, even the scene we were doing today, we had to just share a look. And I felt so uncomfortable because I was like, Madison never feels like this. And it was like, Oh God, I don’t know what to do…
DENNISON: She was trying not to laugh.
BROWN: Yeah. Well, he always makes me laugh. I think we’re a really good match. I made a beautiful friendship, on set Madison and Josh are best friends and we really work well together and then off set, we hate each other. That’s why we need the table in between us.
Image via Warner Bros.
There’s so much that goes in this movie with explosions, destruction, we have Kong, we have Godzilla. What was the craziest scene that you guys got to film that you’re really proud of?
DENNISON: Well, we don’t really see anything. It’s kind of Adam going, “Action!” And then it’s… that thing. There was this…
BROWN: Are you talking about the pier in Hawaii?
DENNISON: Yeah, we shot in Hawaii and there was this pier and there was this giant, probably the biggest explosion I’ve ever worked with.
BROWN: Crazy. Actually, it wasn’t the biggest explosion. The King of the Monsters was really crazy for me physically, but that was because… You know what was funny? We kept reacting.
DENNISON: Because I’ve been set on fire and stuff.
BROWN: So, they would go, “Three, two.” And Me and Julian would both look and then it would explode. And then-
DENNISON: Then she’s like, “Julian.” And I’m like, “You’ll be fine.” And she was like, “Yeah.”
BROWN: I was freaking out. I don’t like loud noises.
DENNISON: It was fun though.
BROWN: We had to keep doing it because I kept anticipating it. It kept being like,”boom”!
DENNISON: “Just don’t, it’s not there.”
BROWN: And then it’d be “one, two, three, boom!” And he was like, “Millie, Oh my God, why did we hire her?”
DENNISON: And it was a lot of people. Yeah, so it’s crazy.
BROWN: A lot of people. And I’m claustrophobic so it’s really bad. I was like, “Oh! Get out my way!”
It seems like Madison is obviously sort of the leader of your guys’ duo, but is she also the leader over Bernie when he kind of comes into the mix?
BROWN: 1000%? No man can tell her what to do.
DENNISON: And I feel like Josh kind of gets really upset, because when Madison meets Bernie, they have this thing with where they’re, “We should do that.” “Yes,” and they kind of leave Josh behind and Josh kind of feels lonely.
BROWN: But then, you come back.
DENNISON: It’s totally okay.
BROWN: And then he cries.
DENNISON: I have this micro-scene where I spill all the tea.
BROWN: He spilled all the tea.
Of course in this movie Kyle Chandler plays [Brown’s] dad. I read.
DENNISON: It was scary the first time I met him. Not even going to lie.
He was in the 2005 King Kong. Did he tell you any old war stories? Like in my day…
BROWN: No. He just told me…He’s the coolest. I love him. He’s the best. He really is. He’s intimidating. He has an intimidating stare. And the first time I-
DENNISON: The first time I met him, I was, “Hey, nice to meet you Kyle.” He’s, “Nice to meet you, Julian.”
BROWN: Because the first time I met Julian, I like ran up to you and jumped on you and hugged you and was like, “Oh my god!”
DENNISON: I wasn’t expecting that from Kyle, no.
BROWN: I do that to everyone. And-
DENNISON: Then I think he might have warmed up to me because then-
BROWN: Are you kidding me? He loves you.
DENNISON: We were laughing and we were telling jokes.
BROWN: I feel like I’m defending my dad.
BROWN: Oh my God! He loves you!
DENNISON: Kyle and Brian [Tyree Henry], they’re so funny, especially Brian.
BROWN: He’s the greatest.
DENNISON: He’s amazing.
BROWN: No. He makes me laugh to the point where I’m crying.
DENNISON: We were doing this emotional scene…
BROWN: Oh my God. Yeah. I was like, “Guys, if you don’t shut up I will break both of your noses.” And they’re, “Okay, mom”.
DENNISON: She gets us into line. It’s good.
BROWN: I don’t know who said that the other day they just started screaming. I was like, “Guys!” because they’re mimicking my accent, “Well ullo, guvna!” and I was trying to do the scene and they’re like, “Ullo, govna!” And they’re in my ear and I’m like, “Guys if you say ‘ullo govna’ more time…” I open my trailer door, Brian’s outside, “Ullo, govna!”
DENNISON: I said that to Brian this morning, “Ullo, govna,” and he was like “ah”.
Image via Warner Bros.
He seems very protective of you guys.
BROWN: He really is.
DENNISON: He varies. He’s like, “I’m going to miss you” and I’m like, “I know you’re saying that because you mean it, but I’m going to miss you too.
BROWN: They are like brothers and it’s really annoying, because they’re like best friends and they just don’t stop talking. So if Brian was sitting here right now and I was gone, you guys would want to walk out. And it’s like they’re in their own little world. They’re like, “adoobadooba”
DENNISON: There’s a little photo of Brian in the makeup room. And it’s, “Julian’s crush” and it’s got a holiday Xs and Os. I shouldn’t have said that actually.
BROWN: Anyway. They’re just absolutely in love with each other and have this beautiful friendship. I’m the one that’s, let’s all have fun, but at the end of the day I’m like “I will literally hurt you”.
DENNISON: But I think that’s really good, and I think that helps with our kind of on the screen kind of trio ship. For me, every time I do a movie, I really want to get to know the people that I’m working with. And I really want to have a off-camera relationship with them because it’s, it’s hard shooting these emotional scenes and it’s kind of uncomfortable when you can’t kind of [crosstalk] a hundred percent [crosstalk] because just, you don’t know that person and you feel uncomfortable cause you wouldn’t cry in front of someone you don’t know.
BROWN: Yeah, but by the way, the script was supposed to be the, we were in a relationship. So we, they really want us together.
DENNISON: When we did our first screen test together, we had to recite some Romeo and Juliet lines.
BROWN: Oh my god it was so bad. And she was like “Juliet, Juliet!” And I was like, “this is the cringiest stuff I’ve ever done.”
DENNISON: But it works-
BROWN: I remember he left and we weren’t even reciting the lines on the screen test. We hardly did, he weren’t even doing the script. It was just me and him laughing-
DENNISON: I first met Adam as well when he has all his braces on and looks like a real hipster, with his beard, he always wears a black shirt, real gothy, but also hipster. And he’s like, “Yeah, let’s do it again, man. Just do it again.”
BROWN: And then like, remember they left and they were like “So Millie, do like, do you like him?” And I was like, “Do I like him? He’s an angel. Yes.” I was like, “Tell him he has the job right now.” And I remember then a couple of weeks later-
DENNISON: Well they didn’t because you know, I was like “Damn I hope I…”
BROWN: Everyone, just the way he gets into character, watching it happen is the cool-, he really brings a light on to set. Where as, I work with… When I was working with Kings of the Monsters, there was no kids in the movie, so it was hard. Because I come up to set, these adults are around me and I’m always, usually bubbly, but it’s really hard to make grumpy people happy.
DENNISON: It is really hard.
BROWN: So, you know, and with Juliana, he comes on set and everybody’s like, “Aw, he’s just like the light and the angel.”
Image via Warner Bros.
Can you talk about the difference between them working with Adam and [Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty] and maybe their different energies?
BROWN: No, they don’t. They don’t have any different energies. They’re really the same. They’re just absolutely fanboys-But you know, they’re very different as people, but they’re both, they have the same energy on set, you know, they’re ultimate fanboys of Godzilla. This is their dream. You know, this is really their dream and to work with someone who’s so passionate about the movie you’re in, it’s fun because you get to feel like you’re part of their dream too. And they’re so passionate and dedicated and driven to making every scene and every detail perfect. It’s also, it’s awesome because he’s so specific and you don’t feel like you have to, you’re never, just never dull moment. You’re always like, “Oh, okay.” He was like, “Yeah, well Godzilla is, is..” You know, and he’ll ramble his like database and I’m like, okay, sick Adam. But Michael does the same thing. He’ll just do it silent-
Has there been a lot of freedom to sort of improv and stuff like that?
BROWN: I remember there was one scene, where it was kind of like not sexist, but a little bit sexist. And I remember I added in like something and I was like, “Why? Because girls can’t do that?” And I remember shooting in space. He was like-
DENNISON: “I don’t know how to reply.” I was like “Ah.” And then Adam was like, “Do that again.”
BROWN: So then we kept it.
DENNISON: And yeah, we did a lot of improv and I think We’re going to do some more. Because it’s so fun. Me, Brian and Millie, we just play around with the day, and I think Adam’s really open to us.
BROWN: Yeah, he is, well, first of all, Julian’s great at it. I’ve never been a great person at improv, but he is really, you’re really good at it. So, I just kind of play off of him.
How does Madison’s dynamic with her father different in Godzilla vs. Kong compared to the last movie?
BROWN: Well, Madison was in the King of the Monsters was really close with her mom and now she’s really close with her dad. You’ll see, but this movie… she’s really close with her dad. But, she’s obviously a teenage girl that is kind of a rebel and she’s going through things and she just kind of wants to be on her own.
DENNISON: She’s kind of already independent.
BROWN: She’s just trying to become a young woman, and that can be really hard. But she, with the help of her little trio, she’s really growing as a person. I think everyone is, even Brian and, and we’re all growing. And me as a positive, Millie grows as a person during this movie. And I feel like I’ve grown up a lot. And, I learned a lot from these beautiful people.
DENNISON: And then I feel like everyone can relate to anyone in this film.
BROWN: I can relate to Josh’s character in so many ways. It’s so awkward and like, “No, I don’t want to do this”. And then like some girls can totally relate to Madison and you know, people can relate to-
DENNISON: To Bernie.
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About The Author
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Matt Goldberg has been an editor with Collider since 2007. As the site’s Chief Film Critic, he has authored hundreds of reviews and covered major film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. He resides in Atlanta with his wife and their dog Jack.
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