Haruo Nakajima

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Haruo Nakajima
Haruo Nakajima
Character(s) Played Godzilla, Invisible Man Akita, Meganulon, Rodan, Moguera, Varan, Transitional Human Vapor, Mothra, Maguma, Matango, Baragon, Gaira, King Kong, Griffon, Giant Rat, Bat Person, Gezora, Ganimes, numerous bit parts
Birthday January 1, 1929
Date of Death August 7, 2017 (aged 88)
Birthplace Yamagata Prefecture, Japan
First Work Godzilla (1954)
Notable Work Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
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Inside the Godzilla suit, it was very dark, lonely, and isolated. Usually the person who wears the suit becomes nervous and anxious. During summertime it’s very hot, it can become hell in there. But Mr. Nakajima always persevered. He acted in the suit underwater, he was buried underground, he withstood pyrotechnic explosions… and through it all he was always Godzilla. „ 

Teruyoshi Nakano on Haruo Nakajima

I already knew I could hardly become a star like Akira Takarada. I didn't have the face for it. At first, I could only become a bit player; and then, I was offered this. For the first time in Japanese film history. And once I was inside Godzilla, I became irreplaceable; it would be possible to replace all of the other actors, but not me. If I didn't get to work because I was sick, none of the staff would be able to do their work. All of this gave me a tremendous sense of pride. „ 

— Haruo Nakajima

Haruo Nakajima (中島春雄,   Nakajima Haruo?) was a Japanese actor and stuntman, most famous for playing Godzilla in the character's first twelve films from 1954 to 1972. During that time, he appeared in nearly every one of Toho's science-fiction films, either as a monster, an extra, or both. He retired from suit acting in 1972, several years after the death of Eiji Tsuburaya, who was a close friend of Nakajima as well as the special effects director for most of Toho's kaiju films in the Showa era. In 2010, he published an autobiography titled Monster Life: Haruo Nakajima, the Original Godzilla Actor.[1]

Biography

Haruo Nakajima served in the Japanese Imperial Navy as a reserve pilot during the Pacific War.[2] He saw combat as a gunner aboard a Mitsubishi G4M bomber, and was present at the funeral of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in Tokyo Bay. Following the war, he struggled to find work; though he worked for a year as a truck driver for the American occupation forces, he was fired after being arrested for speeding. On a whim, he decided to enroll in the International Motion Picture Acting School in 1949. As a student, he was hired by legendary director Akira Kurosawa to portray a detective in a fight scene in Stray Dog. To his disappointment, the scene went unused.

Upon graduation, Nakajima became a contracted actor at Toho who specialized in period action films. He appeared in two more Kurosawa films in the 1950's, Seven Samurai in 1954 and The Hidden Fortress in 1959. However, his true calling would lie in a type of acting without precedent. In 1953, for Eagle of the Pacific, he volunteered to be set on fire during the film's recreation of the Battle of Midway. The stunt impressed the film's director, Ishiro Honda, who likely was the one to recommend Nakajima for the title role in Godzilla, Toho's first monster movie, the following year.

To properly embody a dinosaur awakened by nuclear testing, Nakajima watched special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya's personal copy of King Kong. He also studied the largest animals he could find at the Tokyo Zoo: elephants and gorillas.[3] Though Nakajima was used to working in heavy samurai armor, the Godzilla suit presented unique challenges; provided with little ventilation and working under harsh studio lights, he could only remain inside for three minutes at a time. He also had to adjust his movements to the higher film speeds (72 frames per second) that Tsuburaya mandated to create the illusion of a 50-meter monster.

When Godzilla became a box office success, Nakajima knew that he would soon be offered more monster roles. His job would also expand in the next Godzilla film, Godzilla Raids Again, to include fight choreography. Scripts would often describe monster battles with a single sentence, leaving the rest to him. Such was his reputation that Eiji Tsuburaya hired him as a choreographer for the first two shows in Tsuburaya Productions' Ultra Series, Ultra Q and Ultraman. Nakajima also portrayed several monsters in the Ultra Series, mostly those made from old Toho costumes which he had already worn.

In total, Nakajima played giant monsters in 22 films, including 12 turns as Godzilla. One of his favorite roles was Gaira, the evil green Gargantua from War of the Gargantuas. The flexibility of the suit, as well as that of his opponent Sanda, allowed him to pattern the fight scenes on professional wrestling. Though the work was often dangerous, especially the underwater scenes which made use of his scuba diving license, he was only injured once, on the set of Varan. The explosives-filled truck which detonates under Varan in the film's climax burned his stomach.[4] Characteristically, he said nothing about it to the crew and kept working.

Nakajima retired from acting in 1972, following the completion of Godzilla vs. Gigan. Despite his retirement, Nakajima remained a consistent supporter of the Godzilla franchise for the next several decades, appearing at conventions and writing an autobiography detailing his work in suitmation. Nakajima also became a close friend of his former costar and eventual successor in the role of Godzilla, Kenpachiro Satsuma. Nakajima passed away on August 7, 2017, at the age of 88.

Kaiju Filmography

Gallery

Videos

The Man Who Was Godzilla
SciFi Japan Interview
Anime Boston Interview
Haruo Nakajima wears a Godzilla suit for the last time in 1983
Nakajima instructs GODZILLA (1998) actor Harry Shearer how to act like Godzilla

External Links

References

This is a list of references for Haruo Nakajima. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

This article is a Featured Article. It is one of the best on Wikizilla.
Real World
Era Icon - Godzilla.png
Era Icon - Rodan.png
Era Icon - Meganulon.png
Era Icon - Mogera.png
Era Icon - Varan.png
Era Icon - Mothra.png
Era Icon - Matango.png
Era Icon - Maguma.png
Era Icon - Baragon.png
Era Icon - Gaira.png
Era Icon - King Kong.png
Era Icon - Black Moth.png
Era Icon - Giant Rat.png
Era Icon - Bat Person.png
Era Icon - Gezora.png
Era Icon - Ganimes.png


Comments

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Deathrock9

one month ago
Score 0
So Triassic Iceman made a video about Haruo Nakajima's death. In case you somehow need more evidence that he's one of the worst things in the Godzilla fandom...

"SHOCKING NEWS: Godzilla Man-In-Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima Croaks"

He then follows that up in the comments section with "Please Like Share and Comment :D"

What a disrespectful piece of garbage. I don't wish death upon people but I do hope his channel eventually burns and dies out, like it should have done from the very beginning.
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SkullIsland

2 months ago
Score 0

Check out Tohokingdom's Haruo Nakajima memorial page.


http://www.t...emorial.html
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GojiFan2002

2 months ago
Score 0
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Gman2887

2 months ago
Score 0
Is there an article or reference that goes in to any detail about whether or not Nakajima saw Shin Godzilla?
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The King of the Monsters

2 months ago
Score 2
Not to my knowledge, though I've been curious about that very thing. I'll probably have to start looking through Japanese sources specifically to see if there's any mention of it.
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Kaijufan2000

2 months ago
Score 0

I'm sad that we lost a role model and the man who inspired the work of suitmation and tokusatsu and here are more words for the man who became Godzilla.

Thank you Mr. Haruo Nakajima, you will be always remembered and loved by millions of Godzilla fans around the world and the memories you've given us will not be forgotten.

To the original Godzilla.

And you'll be in our hearts and inspire generations of Kaiju fans in the future.
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G-Fan Enterprises

2 months ago
Score 0
I almost broke into tears yesterday. I'm still really sad that he's gone. It's even more saddening because I saw a ton of Showa era films at Barnes & Noble's today.
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SkullIsland

2 months ago
Score 0
Personally, I think Wikizilla should make a tribute video for Haruo Nakajima.
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Koopa

2 months ago
Score 0
I support this idea.
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Sharp79377937 the Godzilla fan

2 months ago
Score 0
that is awesome
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Kaijufan2000

2 months ago
Score 0
I support it as well. All hail to the king, Haruo Nakajima!
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Toa Hydros

2 months ago
Score 0
To my knowledge, he's the only actor to have portrayed both Godzilla AND King Kong. R.I.P. Haruo. You helped bring some of the most beloved movie monsters to life.
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Spinocroc123

2 months ago
Score 0
Farewall, Gojira
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Koopa

2 months ago
Score 0
Rest in Peace, Mr. Nakajima.
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Deathrock9

2 months ago
Score 0
RIP Mr. Nakajima, arguably one of the most important people involved in the Godzilla franchise and many other Toho movies.
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Varan The Unbelievable

2 months ago
Score 0
Rest in Piece
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Deathrock9

2 months ago
Score 0
Peace*
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SkullIsland

2 months ago
Score 0
R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima.
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Titanollante

2 months ago
Score 0
This is really sad.
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SkullIsland

3 months ago
Score 1
At G-Fest there was a poster with pictures of Nakajima on it, and people were signing it saying "Get well soon." Is Haruo Nakajima ill or something?