John Goodman and Brie Larson Talk Kong: Skull Island

Set in the 1970s, Kong: Skull Island follows a team of explorers and soldiers who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong. John Goodman plays one of the hunters, while Brie Larson is a war photographer hired to photograph the expedition.

Dread Central: Brie, what was your most difficult scene?

Brie Larson: I’m trying to think, I feel like it’s less about a particular scene and more about the experience as a whole because it’s like running in an obstacle course for ten hours a day every day. It’s a lot of movement in this film, I think there’s only one scene where we’re standing still, talking, so you see us walk through a scene, and maybe it’s thirty seconds in the movie but that means it’s probably a whole day of us climbing up that hill or running through that boneyard so it was really taxing on the body in a way, I had never experienced that before. I’ve experienced mental drain but I’ve never gotten to that point where you’re pushing yourself to the limit, it’s amazing what your body can do, it’s fun.

DC: How did you prepare for this role?

BL: I trained, Legendary got me a trainer and so I just started training and I trained before when I did Room but it was a different kind of training. For Room it was just about trying to get myself wiry and small and for this it was actually about bulking up and you sync so well with your body when you have that type of strength.

DC: Were you fans of monster movies growing up?

John Goodman: I had a poster of King Kong in my house.

BL: Shut up, that’s my line.

JG: I had a model of King Kong when I was a child.

BL: You did? Well that’s a new tidbit, you’re just bringing it up now?

JG: Man, you have to pace yourself in these things, you’ve never done a junket? No, I had all the Universal models, Frankenstein, Werewolf, Phantom of the Opera.

BL: Phantom of the Opera?

JG: Yeah, they’d put it out so suckers like me would buy it.

DC: John, even though he’s after Kong, your character doesn’t seem all bad…

JG: I thought he was a dick with ears. Yeah, the more I worked on the guy the less I liked him. He was easy to play, he had issues from the Japan war which is kind of fun to base something on, use your imagination on.

DC: Brie, how does it feel to have Kong save you?

BL: It was green screen.

JG: Was it liberating?

BL: So my interaction with Kong was a tape mark…

JG: You didn’t have a big hand?

BL: No, we didn’t have a big hand. There was like a foam pad I laid on so I don’t know. I don’t really know the logic of how I get out of his hand.

DC: Is there something about being attracted to not playing the classic heroine?

BL: Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons why I did this, to turn this allegory on its head a little bit and to respond to the fact that we’re in a different time right now and I think we’re ready to see a different type of female hero. What’s interesting about Weaver is that yeah, she’s strong and she’s tough but she’s sensitive and that’s her strength, is that she’s using her heart and her humanity to actually save all of them in the end, and it doesn’t take all of this running around and brute force and explosions and guns, it actually just took having the simplest of connections, that’s what saves their lives and I think that’s an incredible message.

DC: How do you talk about being cast in a Marvel film, or something like this?

BL: I didn’t talk to them about it, mostly because the whole thing feels so big and secretive, I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it, I was too scared that they had tapped my house and would come and find me if I said it out loud. I think that for me, I believe that just seeing women be strong and tough is not answering the question of what a female hero looks like. I think that women have their own set of skills that are worth exploring and seeing onscreen. I feel like it’s too easy to say oh, we’ll just change the name of this female character to a male and have her do all the same things a male does. I don’t believe that, I think there’s something else, I think there’s more to women than that and so Mason is a great example of that and Captain Marvel will be another great example of that, exploring deeper, how do women lead and how is that different and unique.

DC: How tough it is mentally working with a green screen?

BL: Well, you have really weird conversations with your director that are very different than with other films. With other films you’re playing off of another person and you’re talking about like well, they said it this way and that made me react in this way and can we change that dynamic, with this you’re starting from a complete unknown so when a creature pops up you have to go well, what does it look like, what do its eyes look like, does it look like it’s going to eat me or does it look like it’s going to be nice to me or does that change, how close is it to me, how tall is it, what kind of animal can we describe it like, it’s just like all of these unknowns you’re just not used to dealing with before because it’s all imaginary, it’s not like we had video or anything to see it, you just have to be on the same page. There were the tennis balls but what does that mean, what do the tennis balls mean? Are they’re mean tennis balls in there?

JG: It’s something that I’ve been doing since before I was a professional, we did it in plays in a church basement, you had to use your imagination and that’s always been, that’s where I live every day anyway. You know, how much water is in its mouth, what does it smell like, it’s just fun, how bad is it going to hurt when he steps on me.

DC: Brie, do you have any real experience taking pictures, and did you use a real camera?

BL: Yeah, I used a Leica in the film and I personally had not used a Leica before so I didn’t take photos with that because I didn’t know how that would turn out so instead I used the camera I had, which was an 81 Program, it’s a Canon and I’d taken photography classes years ago and had learned how to develop film and was excited to get into it again. I try and find some sort of meditative hobby to do and it’s different for every film and on my down time I don’t like reading on set because it feels like your taking yourself out of your role instead of being present.

JG: Yeah, you’ve got to keep snapping back, it takes too long to come back… You’re on that goddamn iPhone every five minutes. Yeah, you took a lot of pictures. I started taking pictures because she was taking so many pictures, it was like hey, I better get hip.

BL: So I started taking photos as a way of staying connected and keep my mind active so my camera bag got pretty heavy by the end because I wanted it to be legit, so I had all my extra lenses, all the film and all the stuff in my bag and I had wardrobe sew in all of these extra pockets in case people didn’t get the logic of, how is she getting all these roles of film, these infinite rolls of film, it’s those tons of pockets, all those bags, lots of stuff happening in there. Very quickly I learned that the bags are really heavy, the cameras are really heavy which is why training became so helpful because you’ve got like ten pounds of weight hanging around your neck, so I started taking photos and then realized I cannot just go get these developed, these are top secret, behind the scenes photos so I reached out to Legendary and said, what if we made this a thing and I took actual photos as this character, I’ll do some you can see behind the scenes but most you won’t see any of our crew, they’ll just be real photos and they were into it, so we had our own secret back and forth, sending them the rolls of film and they had their own top secret lab they were developing them in. I don’t know if you’ve been to that room, the ones that I’m in I didn’t take obviously but the ones I’m not in I did take, that was actually my first time seeing them, I had no idea they were blowing them up so I got kind of emotional seeing them.

JG: Where is this? In the press room, no shit.

BL: Yeah, they were so amazing, they were like, just so you know, the lighting’s not right so we’re getting gallery lighting. Gallery lighting? Really? And I took them, me.

JG: Were you up in a helicopter?

BL: Yeah, I took a lot in the helicopter.

DC: Did you enjoy shooting in Vietnam?

JG: I loved it. I was totally, pardon the word, exotic to me. Well first of all we’re camped out in downtown Hanoi, the hotel was very Westernized but getting out and just getting lost and digging the hive of people and the smells, the food, just unbelievable. The crews are so nice, to get to work we’d have to take water shuttles and the women would paddle with their feet or the under caves, they had some great caves too, especially when we were out by the lake house, it was just beautiful.

BL: Also at that point, once we were in Vietnam, I feel like we traveled every three days or every week, we were in a new part so we were in a lot of different areas in Vietnam.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly. The international ensemble cast also includes Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, John Ortiz, Thomas Mann, Shea Whigham, Toby Kebbell, and Eugene Cordero.

Vogt-Roberts directs the film from a screenplay by Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy, and Derek Connolly. To fully immerse audiences in the mysterious Skull Island, the director, cast, and filmmaking team filmed across three continents over six months, capturing its primordial landscapes on Oahu, Hawaii; on Australia’s Gold Coast; and finally in Vietnam, where filming took place across multiple locations, some of which have never before been seen on film.

Kong: Skull Island will be released worldwide in 2D, 3D in select theaters, and IMAX beginning March 10, 2017, from Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers, and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

Kong: Skull Island


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