Legendary Pictures

Gareth Edwards' first impression on Hollywood was a bold one. Made on a shoestring and having completed effects shots in his own bedroom, he made Monsters – a monster movie drama of a scale well beyond its meagre $500,000 budget.

Thoroughly impressed with his work Legendary Pictures decided to hand Edwards the keys to a big budget blockbuster, and when we say big, we mean the biggest. Godzilla will be the 30th film in a 60-year-old franchise and it brings with it its largest ever incarnation of the titular atomic beast.

It's a tall, sky-scraping order for the 38-year-old Brit but as a professed lover of monster movies, Edwards was perfect for the job. It wasn't easy though, as he explained at a London press conference for the film.

Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards at Godzilla's premiereReuters

"Making this film was genuinely the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life," he said. "The reward is things like last night [the premiere] and getting to show the fans. Dreaming up the film is a lot fun, you can just close your eyes and imagine anything you want to see, and showing the film is a lot of fun, but the middle bit – it feels like war."

Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the soldier unwillingly caught up in the tower-toppling mayhem, Bryan Cranston on fine scenery-chewing form as his father and Elizabeth Olsen as Johnson's wife – trapped in a city about to be trampled.

The real story however is of course the King of Monsters himself. Edwards explained the importance of Godzilla's iconography and spoke of the year-long struggle to get his look just right.

"The good thing about Godzilla is, if you had a load of silhouettes of characters in cinema history and you went round the world showing people them and soon as someone said 'Who is that?' or 'What is that?' you threw it away, I feel like the grand final would be between Mickey Mouse and Godzilla. I think what makes something iconic is that it has a very strong silhouette."

Chief among the complaints levelled at 1998's much-chastised Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie was the design of the iconic monster. He was smaller, less powerful and looked more like a Velociraptor than the chunkier world-eater we know.

Godzilla receives a less than warm welcomeLegendary Pictures

"When we designed him we put the settings on the computer so he didn't have a texture. It was jet black against pure white and we just kept rotating him, pushing and pulling and trying to get the silhouette just right. It was like a Rubik's cube, you get one side good, turn it and ruin the other side, but you couldn't cheat and peel the stickers off."

Asked about the difference between making a small project versus an effects-laden chart-topper, Edwards gave a great answer. "I do a personal film and I'm lying if I say I don't want that film to be as popular as possible... it's a pointless exercise if you do something that's a passion project and no one sees it.

"And if you do a commercial film or popular film you want to make it as personal as possible, you want to make it creative and artistic. So whichever end of the spectrum you're coming from you're sort of heading to the same place."

He was also asked about his decision to make Godzilla the "anti-hero" of the story, to which he answered in a semi-spoilery fashion. He did however say that he "couldn't imagine a version of this film where the audience wasn't rooting for Godzilla".

Godzilla is out in cinemas 15 May.

Legendary Pictures