Akira Takarada, the iconic star of the original Godzilla film, has passed away at the age of 87. His death has been confirmed by Toho Studios but no further details were mentioned at this time.
Born in Korea during the Japanese regime, Takarada’s family moved to Japan during the Allied occupation after the Second World War. After joining Toho Studios in 1953, Takarada started out by getting minor parts in productions such as And Then the Liberty Bell Rang and Bride in a Bathing Suit before making his first big breakthrough as an actor.
In 1954, Takarada would star in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 seminal magnum opus Godzilla which remains the most iconic role of his career. The film approached the subject of nuclear war in a unique way and has a definitive impact on both sci-fi filmmaking as well as monster films. It is even more relevant today, given the concerns over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There was such a social backbone in the background when Godzilla was made. So everywhere in the movie, there was an anti-nuclear message,” Takarada once said. “Never using nuclear bombs is the core theme. At that time, Russia and America were in the Cold War. We Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced the atomic bomb.”
Over the course of his extensive career, Takarada appeared in many projects and continued acting in several of the Godzilla films including the 2014 version. In 2019, Takarada starred in a 2019 musical Dance with Me and he was also supposed to appear in a 2022 production called Life in Bloom but there are no reports about the trajectory of that project yet.
In their statement, Toho Studio said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Akira Takarada. May his memory continue to inspire the lives of many Godzilla fans.”