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Talking Godzilla With an Old Nemesis

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Nimoy. Gilliam. Gaiman. Many more. When it comes to interviews, I'm blessed with the best. But sometimes even I go slumming. For instance, take this piece (please): I'm trying to scoop everybody on the mysterious new Godzilla movie, right? So one of those publicity people says to me, for a kaiju exclusive, go to the Four Seasons -- screw the hospitality suite and just go directly to the restaurant -- and get ready for the interview of a lifetime!

Reasonably wary of publicists, I dare to ask: Is it the director of the new Godzilla? Or, hey, is it that actor guy from that drug show where everybody dies? Or maybe I'll be speaking with Stephen Fry? (Recently the U.N. approved a mandate mandating that Stephen Fry must appear in any and all entertainment productions, apparently.)

Nope. As it turns out, I'm speaking with Godzilla's legendary foe, the Smog Monster.

"Try the brisket," advises the Smog Monster, as I take a chair opposite him. "Melts in your mouth." Vegetarian yet ever professional, I gesture to my recorder and ask how the subject is doing.

"Excuse me, sir," intervenes a waiter, "but that's not the Smog Monster. That's Larry Flynt."

"My bad," I apologize, leaping hastily from the table of the surly pornographer. I am guided to the lavish Four Seasons patio, where my interviewee awaits me. He is made of actual pollution.

"You're shorter than you look in the movie," I offer, by way of greeting.

"That was over forty years ago," snarls the Smog Monster. "Besides: Pacino. Cruise. Stallone. And what's her name, that Germanotta girl--"

"Lady Gaga?" I suggest.

"Precisely," nods the Smog Monster. "Way short, that one. Same height as Danny DeVito."

"They'd make a great couple."

The Smog Monster cackles malevolently. "Mind if I smoke? Hell, like you're gonna stop me."

Vile fumes fill the relentlessly sunny Los Angeles day. More than normal, I mean.

"So, Mr. Smog Monster--" I begin.

"Call me Hedorah."

"Okay, Hedorah."

"That's better. That's my real name: Hedorah. It's Japanese for 'Smog Monster.' Ask me stuff."

Frankly, I'm a little nervous. The Smog Monster -- Hedorah -- is diminutive compared to his massive onscreen presence; however he's nonetheless a slimy, greyish gob of glop. Two women carrying five chihuahuas each stride onto the patio, see me, smile, see Hedorah, frown, and turn on their respective thousand-dollar heels to the tune of ten little dogs shrieking in mortal terror.

"Uh, well, I guess that since the new Godzilla movie is shrouded in secrecy in that Nolanesque, initially-intriguing-but-imminently-disappointing kind of way, I'm wondering if you're, like, in it."

"What?" asks Hedorah, suddenly hemorrhaging filth voluminously onto the patio floor.

The new Godzilla movie

"The new Godzilla -- are you in it? Are you the bad guy?"

Hedorah's demonic, vertically-aligned eyes glaze over in a wistful, faraway look. "Uh, I can't talk about that," he explains, his voice a rough whisper. "Press embargo. I'm sorry. Next question."

Flailing a bit -- obviously, the new Godzilla movie is why I'm here -- I reach for a trusty interviewer standby: "Where do you get your ideas from?"

Hedorah glares at me. "Oh, come on! Try a little!"

"Well, in your classic film Godzilla vs. Hedorah--"

"I prefer it as Hedorah vs. Godzilla."

"Fair enough."

"Like a McCartney-Lennon flip-flop."

"Sure."

"I'm McCartney, obviously."

"Obviously."

This alleged exclusive really isn't going very well. Publicists. I take a deep breath. I cough. A lot. My interview subject is made of pollution. Suddenly a hot scarlet glow fills the Four Seasons patio, as Hedorah transforms from a sort of tentacly Cthulhu wannabe to more of a sort of hovering space pierogi. I pretend not to notice.

Not the new Godzilla movie

"What was it like working with Godzilla?" I ask his old nemesis, Hedorah. "Was he nice?"

"Define 'nice,'" glowers the hovering Hedorah. I remain pokerfaced, and, disappointed by my lack of reaction, the veteran kaiju repeats his threadbare fanboy reflection for what is clearly the billionth time.

"Ha-ha. Naw, Gojira -- that's what I call him, Gojira; because we're friends and we're both Japanese -- ol' Gojira's a total professional, all the way. Wreck a city, set it back up, do it again. Listens to direction, Gojira -- that's his secret. The day I spewed toxic muck all over him, he almost drowned in it -- that's off the record, of course -- but he never broke character. Method. Stanislavski. He's a pro!"

And in the original Japanese, for purists

"But in Godzilla vs. H-- um, in your movie together -- didn't he destroy you? Like, really badly? Desiccate and decimate you? I'm surprised you survived!"

"That's movie magic, kid," intones the floating blob of glop. "Movie magic."

Abruptly, sans closure, Hedorah, the Smog Monster, rises and zooms away. He seems to be headed toward Burbank. I've gained no clues about the new Godzilla movie, and this interview sucks. But hey, at least Hedorah didn't order anything and stick me with the bill. The waiter returns with a mop as I switch off my recorder, rise, and tiptoe out through the sludge.

Happy April Fool's Day.

Godzilla (2014) opens the 16th of May.