If you know Paste, then you know our monster movie appreciation will always burn brightly—it’s the reason why we’ve not only ranked the entire Godzilla film franchise, but also ranked every Godzilla series monster as well. It is, then, with a sad heart that we report the following news to kaiju fans: Legendary Godzilla series mainstay actor Akira Takarada has passed away at the age of 87. The news was confirmed by the official Godzilla PR Twitter account from Toho, which said the following: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Akira Takarada. May his memory continue to inspire the lives of many Godzilla fans.”
Takarada was born in 1934, and at the age of 20 he began his acting career, appearing that same year in 1954’s original Gojira as lead protagonist Hideto Ogata. This everyman performance helps ground Gojira, as Ogata consults with scientists and military officials in an attempt to stop the destructive rampage of Godzilla. That single role would have secured Takarada a place in Godzilla lore forever, but he then went on to appear in the series several other times, from playing Ichiro Sakai in 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla to K. Fuji in 1965’s Invasion of the Astro-Monster. He made his Heisei series debut in 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra, and then snuck into the Millennium series in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars. He even filmed a scene as a Japanese immigration agent for Gareth Edwards’ 2014 American Godzilla relaunch in the Legendary MonsterVerse, but the sequence was ultimately cut. Still, Takarada has the distinction of being the only actor to have appeared in the Showa, Heisei and Millennium eras of Godzilla.
The actor of course also performed in many other roles over the course of a career spanning almost 70 years, including providing the voice of Jafar in the Japanese versions of Aladdin and its sequels. He was still working in his late 80s, and his final film appearance will be in 2022’s Life in Bloom. Truly a long and fruitful career.