While Godzilla: King of the Monsters is still playing in theaters, which hopefully by now everyone has seen, let's look at some behind-the-scenes action that took place for the making of this motion picture.
I was fortunate to interview Alan Maxson who worked with both Richard Dorton and Jason Liles in portraying King Ghidorah. Alan helped bring Ghidorah to life and back on the big screen. Alan was very generous to allow me to speak with him on his journey bringing the right head of Ghidorah to life, allowing me in on some insight to what it was like to be a part of this famous monster, and how he became involved with the making of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
(Ghidorah's right head portrayed by Alan Maxson)
(The scene that introduced us all to Ghidorah)
For those who don't know who Alan Maxson is, you've been sleeping under a rock. Alan specializes in performance through heavy make-up, prosthetics, and Motion Capture. Alan has received the Independent Community Arts Award in October 2016 from Long Beach Acting and Film Association, and also won Best Actor for his role as Cookie in Christmas with Cookie during the Off The Rails Podcast Boobah Awards in 2017. Alan has portrayed over 50 monsters in both film and television (going on 60 or more), he has worked on some commercial advertisements including Century Day & Night Spa and Collective Punch's Geico commercial. Some of Alan's best work includes the Rake in The Raking, Sugar Pine 7's The Woods, Grindhouse's Moon of the Blood Beast, and Meathook Massacre: The Final Chapter.
In our interview, I spoke with Alan on his incredible journey with filmmaking, his overall experience portraying monsters, and a trip down memory lane with the making of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
(Alan Maxson posing for the camera)
Alan, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to allow this interview to happen.
I'm super honored, Ben! Thanks for doing this!
It's my pleasure, Alan. You've worked in the film industry for quite some time now. Your works include The Creature in Sugar Pine 7's The Woods, The Rake in The Raking, and Cookie in Christmas with Cookie. How exciting has it been for you to step up to play these monsters, and then portray Ghidorah's right head?
It was very exciting! I've played over 50 monsters before, so these types of characters came naturally to me. When I got word from my agent that they wanted to use me for Ghidorah, I was ready to kick ass and show off my stuff! It was hands down the most fun job I've ever had.
(Alan Maxson with heavy make-up of practical effects)
The fact that you've portrayed over 50 monsters prior to this film must have been a huge step in the right direction.
Have you always been a fan of Godzilla and movie monsters?
I'm a die-hard, life-long monster-movie fan! I've loved anything non-human my entire life. Aliens, creatures, demons, monsters, I love them all!
I can only assume that everyone behind this production are also die-hard fans as well?
Oh, yes. Everyone!
So, what was the first Godzilla movie you can recall watching as a kid?
My first Godzilla movie I recall watching as a child was Godzilla vs. Megalon. I had it on VHS and my brother and I watched it all the time. Then, in 1998, the American Godzilla came out and we loved that too! We had a poster and Slurpee cups!
Godzilla vs. Megalon has seemingly been the first Godzilla film many have watched as children growing up. Do you think that Godzilla vs. Megalon might have convinced you and gave you inspiration to seek out film industry work?
In a way, all monster movies did. I wouldn't say particularly any Godzilla film pushed me, but they all add up here and there. Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Gremlins, and Tremors would be some of my biggest inspiration to work in the film industry.
Most excellent. It must mean the world to you that you are able to live out your dreams of being in the film industry.
I literally wouldn't change a thing. Playing creatures like I do is the greatest thing I could ever ask for as a career. I hope to do this until the day I die... Hopefully that's many years from now. (laughs)
That's awesome! How old are you, Alan?
So, how old were you when you first started working in the film industry?
I started in college. Roughly when I was 19 or 20. Being professionally paid for it, I'd say I was 22 or 23-ish.
Roughly 12-14 years of experience then. It's awesome that you've been doing this type of work for so many years. Do you think that while working all of these years has helped you with the style of work that you do?
Yes. Everything helps and adds to my talents. I learn something new on every job and every time I train. Being a life-long fan of monsters in Horror and Sci-fi probably helps more than anything! I care about my work because I'm such a fan.
Do you wish to continue to work as a creature actor in any future production?
For the rest of my life. I love being a creature actor. I can't imagine ever stopping. I'm a life-long performer, and playing creatures has been the most satisfying, fun job I've ever done in my career.
That's great! What was it like to work under Michael Dougherty?
Mike is great! He's fantastic, talented, fun, and great at what he does. He knows the Godzilla world very well, and he was the perfect person for the job.
Was Mike strict on this production, or was it fun for everyone?
Hands down fun! We had an absolute blast! When it was over, we were bummed and didn't want to leave. Mike knows what he wants and has a clear vision. It made everything go smoothly and quick.
He's the kind of director that everyone would want to work for in the film industry?
Without a doubt.
That's so cool. July 21, 2018, at SDCC, Bear McCreary made the announcement that he would be the composer for this film. Have you by chance had the opportunity to see him orchestrate the score during the production?
I have not. I wish though.
Well, knowing that Bear has composed scores for The Walking Dead, God of War, Battlestar Galactica, Agents of SHEILD and so many other films and television series, were you excited when he was announced as the composer like the rest of us?
Yes! He's very talented, and I knew we were in good hands. I'm not sure but, did he score the Comic-Con trailer? If so, he's already done a fantastic job!
I'm not entirely sure if Bear dropped that Claire De Lune by Claude Debussy or not in the trailer. If he did, he needs that Nobel Prize right now. What was it like for you to work with Jason Liles and Richard Dorton when the three of you portrayed Ghidorah?
We were a perfect team. We all meshed together really well and got along perfectly. We were Ghidorah! We have a nickname on social media. We call each other, "The 3 Amigos," because we are basically golden dragon brothers. (laughs)
That's awesome! Golden dragon huh? Spoiler don't you think? I can't wait to see what the three of you have done together as Ghidorah. That Comic-Con trailer looks promising.
That is not a spoiler! We have only seen as much of the composited characters as the public has. I don't know what color he really is. We just say that because the classic is golden, and I have a golden colored action figure from years ago. He could be purple for all I know.
I think we can rest easy as Dougherty did reveal the Comic-Con poster the same day the trailer dropped. If that poster is any indication as to what Ghidorah will look like, wow! Speaking of which, would you be interested in talking about that poster?
What would you like to know?
I know Christopher Shy is the artist who created that poster. If he did that, I can only assume that perhaps he will make more official posters once it's time to release them.
For the poster, I guess I don't know what to say other than he's a very talented artist, and well... Everyone wants one. (laughs)
I know I do. He's a very talented artist. Looking back on this production, this is your first Godzilla movie as it is for others. How exciting was it for yourself and the rest of the cast to play in this movie?
Surreal. Especially now with all the hype and fan excitement. We all knew we had booked something very, very special. I'll be proud of this for the rest of my life.
That's great that this will be something you'll be proud of for the rest of your life. Must have been amazing to be a part of one of the longest franchises in history.
Yes! Like I said before, I'll never forget being a part of this. Especially once it is released and everyone sees how awesome it is.
I take it that this film is made for the fans by the fans?
What can you tell me about the story of this film?
Well, now that the film is out to the public, I know a lot of critics are saying there's too much monster action or not enough monster action. I personally believe it's perfectly balanced. I love this film!
A lot of fans do. How did you come about working with Legendary and Warner Bro.?
This came about just like a lot of my roles. I was recommended by people I knew. This particular job came from a school I train at called, "The Mocap Vaults." There was a post on our student forum asking for people to submit their "creature reels." So, I submitted my work for it, not knowing at that point what it was for.
A few weeks later, I got an e-mail from my agent telling me that Legendary had interest in me playing King Ghidorah, and they wanted to meet with me. I immediately knew it was linked to that post. I went in for that interview and audition, and then I waited for an answer from my agent. Two weeks later, after waiting on the edge of my seat, I was booked for the job! Damn that felt good!
You were recommended by industry professionals, correct? How long have you worked with these industry professionals?
Richard Dorton is a teacher at the MoCap Vaults, and according to Facebook, we became friends in February 2016. I must have taken his class right around then.
What made you decide to work for Legendary and Warner Bros.?
I'm going to paraphrase one of my favorite movies right now, Ghostbusters. "When Legendary asks you to be in a Godzilla film, you say, YES!"
That's awesome! How many rehearsals did it take to portray Ghidorah?
We rehearsed each take before we performed each stunt or action. I'd say we ran through each one probably 2-3 times or until Mike said he liked it.
Were there any preparations taken when portraying Ghidorah?
Yes! When I first booked the role, I bought every movie that had Ghidorah in it that I didn't already own. I only had the 7-film Godzilla Collection Boxset at the time. I had to buy a bunch of movies. (laughs)
Since then, I've bought a ton more. Even ones that don't have Ghidorah in them because they are awesome!
Aside from Ghidorah, were there any other monsters in the film that you portrayed?
At the end when all the monsters bow down to Godzilla, Richard, Jason and I all portrayed other Kaiju surrounding TJ Storm (Godzilla). Jason played Rodan, and I don't think Richard and I had any particular monster that we were designated to be. For some reason, I remember our placement being the MUTO...Maybe? Richard would have to elaborate on that.
What was it like to experience the screenplay by Micheal Dougherty?
Amazing! Richard, Jason and I experienced for the first time like no one else did. We watched a rough cut of the entire film before we filmed our scenes. We never read a script or heard any description of the film before. We just dove in face-first into the rough cut, and it was a very polished, nice-looking rough cut. All three of us were amazed. Then Mike took us to his editor and asked us how we liked the film. Obviously, it was all praise. If I weren't involved with the making of this movie, I'd be just as in love with it.
Were any practical effects used?
On our end? No. We were completely performance capture. They captured our movement with the motion capture equipment, and they filmed our human faces during performance with a few cameras. All the amazing work from the animators and CGI artists made the Kaiju look so damn good. Fantastic VFX work by the entire team over at MPC and anyone else who touched it.
What can you tell me about interacting with the crew behind the scenes in making this film?
The crew was great. We performed in a motion capture volume, so it was the VFX team with Mike and a couple of producers. They were all very kind of creative and awesome! I have nothing bad to say about anyone involved in the process.
(TJ Storm, Kyle Chandler, Jason Liles, Richard Dorton, and Alan Maxson at the Red-Carpet Event)
Were there any other Mo-Cap actors behind-the-scenes?
Just the four of us. Myself, Richard, Jason, and TJ.
Has this film been an exhausting experience for you?
Exhausting? No. Busy? Yes. (laughs) I've never had so many people ask for interviews or to be on podcasts before. This has definitely put me in the public eye. It's been a lot of fun!
Have you worked with anyone else in this production before?
As I mentioned earlier, I train at The Mocap Vaults with Richard. I also worked with John Root at the MCP mocap volume a few weeks before filming Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). I also knew TJ Storm from the same motion capture circles I run in. It's a very small world. We all know each other by name. I believe all three of them put in a good word for me during the casting process. Thank you guys!
What can you tell me about the first day of portraying Ghidorah with Richard and Jason?
The first day, we watched the rough cut of the film together. It was very casual and awesome! We had a good time just geeking out together and realizing we will forever be bound to each other from this day forward. (laughs)
(Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, and Richard Dorton together)
What can you tell me about the last day of production?
The last day was a bummer. We didn't film long at all. I didn't want to leave. I wished we could have worked on this for a year straight! I still miss it. Hopefully, it won't be the last time the three of us get to become a Kaiju together again.
How much fun have you had working with Richard and Jason?
It was a blast! We are so professional and in character during filming that we truly become this dragon. Then when we go on break, we just have fun. We are all super-easy-going guys. It's not hard to have a good time. With all the conventions we are doing together, we just goof off and have a great time.
(Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, and Richard Dorton seated at the World Premiere)
You wanted to talk about my artwork. What would you like to know?
You're a fantastic artist! You were so kind to send all of us a drawing of King Ghidorah that you made, and I thank you for that! How long have you been an artist for? Do you draw only, or do you also paint and sculpt?
(My Ghidorah artwork autographed by Alan, Richard, and Jason)
(Alan Maxson autographing my artwork. Photo provided by Richard Dorton)
(Jason Liles autographing my artwork. Photo provided by Richard Dorton)
(Richard Dorton with the Trendmasters Ghidorah figure I sent him. Photo provided by Richard Dorton)
To answer your questions, I only draw on the occasion. I've never picked up painting or sculpting before. I don't think I have the skill set for sculpting. I appreciate your complement on that Ghidorah artwork I made for you guys, and I appreciate you all autographing it for me.
Dude, you are super good!
Thank you, Alan! What were your thoughts on the second trailer?
Every trailer that this film has put out is award-winning. Before this film, Evil Dead (2013) was the first film that I truly thought the editor deserved an award for a trailer. I now add to that list all of the trailers from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). The editors behind all of the trailers are brilliant. Obviously, Bear McCreary's music is a huge part of that! So much passion in every corner of this film.
(Selfie of Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, Bear McCreary, and Richard Dorton at the World Premiere)
Speaking of Bear's music, two tracks were recently publicly released. What were your thoughts on Bear's music?
Bear did an amazing job! I get so pumped at the music during this film. I could rock out to it all day.
(Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, Bear McCreary, and Richard Dorton at the World Premiere)
Going back on the other monsters, what can you tell me about them?
I don't know the name of the wooly mammoth ape-like Kaiju, but I love that guy! I want an action figure of him!
(TJ Storm, Gareth Edwards, Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, and Richard Dorton at the Red-Carpet Event)
(Alan Maxson, Jason Liles, Richard Dorton, Michael Dougherty, and TJ Storm)
Alan, is there anything that we haven't talked about that you would like to share?
Not that I can think of, but I imagine something will come up, and I'll totally reach out!
Alan, I can't thank you enough for all you have done for me. Autographing my artwork, sending me that SDCC poster, and for doing this interview. I appreciate everything so much, and I'm glad that you and I have developed a fantastic friendship. I hope that we can continue to be friends, and I look forward to speaking with you more soon.
You're super welcome, man! You're awesome for doing this! I can't wait to see your book when you get that finished. It's been a blast chatting with you. Thank you so much, Benjamin!
For those who wish to follow Alan Maxson, you may follow him on his Twitter account, @Monster_Maxson. His Instagram, @Monster_Maxson. His YouTube, https://m.youtube.com/c/AlanMaxson , and his Facebook, https://m.facebook.com/monsteractoralanmaxson
Stay tuned for the interviews with Jason Liles and Richard Dorton coming up in the coming week(s). Enjoy the read everyone.
If you are a fan of Godzilla and are looking for an exclusive online community to share your passion and engage with other die-hard Godzilla fans, look no further! Join in the Godzilla Movies forum - a dedicated community of Godzilla movie and Monsterverse fans!
This article was written By Huge-Ben and published on 2019-06-14 15:31:08
More about upcoming Godzilla movies
Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters is the sequel to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014) and is being directed by Michael Dougherty. The film will introduce Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and more monsters to the Warner Brothers / Legendary Monsterverse cinematic universe. For information on Godzilla 2's cast, plot, release date and to download the film's official movie posters, please visit the Godzilla: King of the Monsters about page here!
Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) is the sequel to Michael Dougherty's Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters and will be the fourth and final installment in the Monsterverse movie quadrilogy. It will also bridge both the Godzilla movies and Kong: Skull Island by bringing Godzilla and Kong face-to-face for an epic match-up. To learn more about Godzilla vs. Kong, check out the Godzilla vs. Kong about page here!
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