Roland Emmerich Tried To Get Out Of Directing Godzilla By Refusing To Give Him A Big Belly

Depending on who you talk to, "Godzilla" (1998) is either considered the worst "Godzilla" movie ever made, or ... okay, yeah, everyone pretty much agrees with that. America's rookie attempt at putting our own spin on the immensely popular Japanese kaiju didn't exactly go over well, resulting in a top-to-bottom mess that didn't make anyone happy — least of all, its own director. Roland Emmerich is no stranger to the end-of-the-world genre of big-budget blockbusters, even back in 1998 when he was just coming off the overwhelming success of "Independence Day." On the surface, at least, he seemed like a natural fit for the first American "Godzilla" movie. Now if only he had actually wanted to make it in the first place.

Ahead of the impending release of "Moonfall," Emmerich has been making the rounds and shooting straight from the hip. Most recently, he took direct aim at "Don't Look Up" and held nothing back in describing why he felt Adam McKay's latest didn't quite measure up for him. Elsewhere in the same interview with THR, Emmerich reminisced about his experiences making "Godzilla" and revealed a hilarious tidbit about the production that fully explains one of the most controversial elements in the entire film. Of course, we're talking about the bizarre decision to redesign the iconic kaiju into some sort of skinny and streamlined reptile that hardly even resembled the big guy at all. Apparently, there's a very good reason for that, to hear it straight from Emmerich's lips. Like many of the greatest stories in the industry, it started with one person making an offer they thought would be refused ... but wasn't, for some inexplicable reason. The end result? "Godzilla" (1998), of course.

"I didn't want to do 'Godzilla'"

Any aspiring filmmaker would be lucky to enjoy the career that Roland Emmerich has had. He's been responsible for eye-popping visuals that stand the test of time decades later, he's retained control and ownership over his own work ("I own 50 percent of this film," he says about "Moonfall" later in the interview), and now he gets to sit back and speak his mind about anything he wants while promoting his next disaster movie. That's the life, folks. While talking to THR, Emmerich took a trip down memory lane and revisited "Godzilla," an experience that most of us would probably rather forget if we were in his shoes. When asked about an asteroid movie he intended to do after "Independence Day" before finding himself at the helm of "Godzilla," Emmerich had this to say:

"I didn't want to do 'Godzilla.' But they made me a deal, which was unheard of. I said, 'OK, let's go about this really radically. I'm not doing big-belly Godzilla. I'm doing him as a lizard.' That was supposed to tell everybody I can't do this movie. [Godzilla owner Toho] said, 'Oh, we'll call this the new Godzilla, the Hollywood Godzilla. Then, we can still do our fat Godzilla.' [Toho continued to make Godzilla movies with its classic look, while Emmerich's Godzilla was leaner and faster.] I said, 'S***!'"

There's this classic episode of "Seinfeld" where George Costanza (Jason Alexander) is trying to leave his job with the New York Yankees in order to get a better one with the Mets, but all his blatant attempts to get fired only inexplicably please his bosses more. That's all I can think of while reading this Emmerich quote, if we're to fully believe that his greatest (intended) act of self-sabotage actually ensured that he would remain on the project. As protective as Toho has remained about their brand, it was actually quite shrewd of them to let Emmerich (and America) take the fall for such a disastrous creative decision as Skinny Godzilla.

Here's hoping the rest of the press tour for "Moonfall" continues to be jam-packed with Roland Emmerich stories like this. "Moonfall" arrives in theaters on February 4, 2022.