Rebecca Hall Hopes You’re Surprised

The fact that Rebecca Hall is in the “Godzilla x Kong” franchise might come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to her career over the years. She’s known for her work in films like “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “The Town,” “Christine” and “Frost/Nixon,” as well as stage work.

Yet that’s exactly how Hall likes it.

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“I think I have sort of a constant need to surprise myself,” she says on a recent afternoon at the Whitby Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “I have a bit of a chameleon instinct. Someone said to me this morning in an interview that they never know it’s me in anything. And I didn’t find that to be a bad comment — I kind of liked that.

“I’m not sure that many actors get to do that anymore,” she adds. “The idea of your personal brand is so prevalent in relation to what you do. And for me, I feel like my personal brand is pretty strong, but also, I don’t want it to get in the way of disappearing into a character. I like to be a little bit enigmatic in that way, and I like to shift around and look different and not be recognizable and play different characters.”

That desire has led her to the “Godzilla x Kong” world, the second of which, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” is released Friday. Hall reprises her role as Dr. Ilene Andrews, as anthropological linguist.

The appeal of Godzilla is easy for Hall.

“I think it’s just the movie-ness of it. The creatures are so large. And it’s colossal and silly in a real way. It’s silly because you don’t ever want to do a death count on one of these movies — it’s preposterous. Every time Godzilla goes for a walk, he destroys an entire continent. So you can’t take it that seriously. But at the same time, it is pure cinema, pure fun, pure action, all of those things. And I think there’s also the metaphorical significance of these characters, which can be quite serious actually.”

Rebecca Hall
Rebecca Hall

The new Godzilla introduces Dan Stevens to the cast, who Hall goes way back with.

“We first met in college, when we were 18. We were in a play together at Cambridge, and we became sort of instant best friends. And then we were flatmates after college, and I’m a godmom to his kids. And then we’ve done theater since then together. We’ve done movies since then. So inviting him into the whole fold of this world was super easy,” she says. “If you told our 18-year-old selves that you’d be in a Godzilla Kong movie…”

The new “Godzilla” shot in Australia, like the first, and given the multiple months the shoot required, Hall’s daughter came along for both.

“The first one, my daughter was six months old. She learned to walk there. And the second one, she learned to swim there. So she has a strong bond with Australia,” Hall says.

And really, what’s not to love about Australia — and its wildlife — for a kid?

“This time we were on the Gold Coast so we’re by the beach and it’s all kookaburras landing on telephone wires and kangaroos,” Hall says. The shoot even took them to the Daintree Rainforest, home to the dinosaur-like cassowary.

“We got a memo before going to work in that particular location saying ‘they’re in birthing season. Which means most of the ones that are out are mothers, and if you look them in the eye, they will kill you with their claws,’” Hall says. “You don’t go for a casual walk at lunch because there might be cassowaries and crocodiles and such.”

Rebecca Hall
Rebecca Hall

It’s a world away from “Passing,” the 1920s-set film Hall directed between the two Godzilla movies, which was her feature directorial debut.

Still, the Godzilla universe is easy to tap back into, Hall says, no matter what project you’re coming off of.

“You just come to work and everything is so Godzilla themed. And also [director] Adam Wingard, his vision for these movies is pretty idiosyncratic. He’s definitely put his stamp on these films and they have this sort of fantastically pulpy, fun kind of punk rock quality to them, that’s silly, and he wants silly characters and he wants playfulness,” Hall says. “And so you just sort of walk onto the set, and then you’re like, ‘OK, I know where I am.’”

As for transitioning back into acting from being in the director’s seat, Hall has found it easier than one might expect.

“I think I’ve always acted a little bit like a director. People have often said, ‘Is it hard to turn off being a director?’ I think it’s been hard to turn off being a director for my whole career,” she says. “I mean, not in a disrespectful way. I’m incredibly respectful of the directors I work for and I want to do whatever their vision is, but I can’t help the little movie running in my head of ‘Oh, you’ve shot that wide, you must be wanting to cut it together like this.’”

Up next, Hall has a script she’s written that she’d like to direct and act in, and is thinking of how to get the money together for the indie drama — a stark contrast to the big budget Godzilla world.

“It’s a part of the process that I find hard, and is hard. I think the landscape is quite interesting right now,” she says of funding indie films. “So it’s tough.”

Acting wise, she remains as open as ever to something that will surprise.

“There are things I haven’t done that I would like to do. I’d like to sing in something. I’d like to actually do more comedy. I don’t know. I’m game for fun. I’m game for serious,” she says. “I’m game for whatever.”

Rebecca Hall
Rebecca Hall

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