It’s been a busy week for updates concerning Legendary’s 3D Godzilla cinematic reboot, what with a March production start date still in the books. We learned earlier this week that Walking Dead TV show creator Frank Darabont is handling the final round of script revisions; shortly thereafter, reports emerged revealing a few of the names on the male human lead shortlist.
Now, insiders are claiming that Aaron Johnson – whose name is new to the casting conversation – has been offered the under-wraps human lead role, as featured in the script co-penned by Max Borenstein (The Seventh Son) and story created by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel).
Deadline is reporting Johnson to be the front-runner for Godzilla‘s human costar, but says he isn’t expected to make a final decision on the offer until after reading the script draft with Darabont’s changes. There’s an ongoing pre-production scuffle involving Legendary and producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin, who brought the character rights to the studio; however, that concerns back-end payments and credit on the project and doesn’t look to stop director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) from beginning production on schedule (not yet, anyway).
Johnson’s been acting professionally for over a decade, but he popped up on most people’s radar by starring in Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass comic book adaptation. He’s since appeared in the period drama Albert Nobbs, Oliver Stone’s Savages and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina - not to mention, has Kick-Ass 2 arriving this year - but has yet to earn a reputation as a remarkable character actor; nor is he any sort of established box office draw, right now.
That’s to say: it’s hard to tell if Johnson is preferred by the studio or Edwards, given his background. Legendary surely has franchise plans in mind, so the studio might be eying Johnson with the expectation he’s interested in future installments; as opposed to, a “creative choice” (ie. Edwards’) like Monsters‘ Scoot McNairy (who seems less inclined to make blockbusters) or Cale Laundry Jones. Either way, Johnson isn’t a terrible substitute for either actor.
It might seem silly to scrutinize the human lead in a Godzilla movie as much as we are, but remember: Edwards’ “grounded, realistic approach” to the giant Japanese monster needs a compelling human presence, in order to lend emotional substance (and maybe even metaphorical weight) to the spectacle and onscreen destruction. We don’t need another Matthew Broderick situation, right? (Sorry, Ferris…)
Godzilla opens in 2D and 3D theaters on May 16th, 2014.