Godzilla 2014 - Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Godzilla 2014 - Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) ©2014 Legendary Pictures

Aaron Taylor-Johnson came to prominence in 2009 in the title role of Nowhere Boy, portraying a young John Lennon. He went on to star in the successful cult movie Kick-Ass and will play Quicksilver in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will premiere in 2015.

The re-imagining of Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters), unfolds across multiple continents and spans several decades. Aaron plays Ford Brody, a Naval officer specializing in disarming bombs. He has just settled in San Francisco with his wife and son, when he is called away to help his troubled father, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad) in Japan.

Aaron spoke of the movie, which opens on May 16th, at the press day for the film in New York City.

Did you have any hesitation at all being in a Godzilla movie?

Godzilla 2014 - Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Godzilla 2014 – Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) ©2014 Legendary Pictures

When Gareth and I first talked about the film, he told me to forget that it was a big monster movie. I loved what Godzilla meant to him, and that he wanted to bring him to the screen in a big disaster spectacle, but to tell the story with a high level of artistry and emotion.

That’s what made me want to do this project, and Gareth made the experience incredibly special. I came out of that meeting with Gareth thinking a hundred percent that I want to be on this journey with him and everyone involved.

Had you ever seen a Godzilla movie?

I never really saw any of the other movies. I had a whole other perspective on what Godzilla meant. Gareth said to go see the original, so I did, because he wanted to embrace the 1954 version in this movie, and have the origin story there, and also created Godzilla from that look.

We had the Toho approval on that. It felt like we were bringing it back to its roots, but setting it in today’s society.

Can you tell us a little about Ford Brody?

Godzilla 2014 - Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Godzilla 2014 – Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) ©2014 Legendary Pictures

He’s the kind of specialist the military needs and it’s all hands on deck. At the same time, his mission is to get back to his family, and his work in the military becomes the only way he can maneuver himself closer to San Francisco. But it’s heartbreaking because he knows he might not make it home at all.

Ford is really put through the ringer over the course of the film, both internally and externally. When we meet him, he’s a husband, father and son, and is trying to do all those things correctly under the weight of some serious emotional baggage.

He has unresolved issues with his father, and his efforts to try to mend their relationship places him far from home when his family needs him.

Character-wise, the only challenge for me was playing a Lieutenant in the Navy. It was getting behind that mentality and headspace of a guy that would do that sort of job.

The way they talk and carry a weapon, all those kinds of things were my challenges in order to be believable in that setting.

What kind of research did you do?

Godzilla 2014 - Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen
Godzilla 2014 – Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Elle Brody (Elizabeth Olsen) ©2014 Legendary Pictures

I spent three months with a great marine whose been on a bunch of film sets, so he understood how to work with actors. He did Black Hawk Down, every major military movie you’ve seen, he’s been on it.

I trained with him about the way they would talk, they way that they’d use their equipment, that was a huge help and an insight into the character.

What was it like having Bryan Cranston play your father? Were you a Breaking Bad fan?

I’ve seen all the series, and I’m a fan of his work. I did love the show. I think he’s brilliant, he’s a super sweet guy and really funny and it was brilliant working alongside him. He’s a phenomenal actor.

You have to do so much imagining when you’re acting in a film like this, what’s it like when you finally see it put together?

I think the film is fantastic and I’m proud of it. I think it’s a brilliant, emotional journey in what feels like a natural disaster. It all feels pretty believable to me, like it could happen, and that’s always great.

Aaron was asked if he ever got the opportunity to jump out of a plane like he did in the movie? Click here to listen to his confession.