‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ Interview: Director Matt Shakman

'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters' director and executive producer Matt Shakman.

‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ director and executive producer Matt Shakman.

Premiering on Apple TV+ beginning November 17th is the new series ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ which is set in the MonsterVerse universe that includes the movies ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Kong: Skull Island.’

The series is executive produced by director Matt Shakman (‘Fantastic Four’), written and developed by executive producers Chris Black (‘Severance’) and Matt Fraction (‘Hawkeye’), and features real-life father and son actors Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell both playing new character, Lee Shaw.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with executive producer and director Matt Shakman about his work on ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ diving into Monarch’s backstory, connecting it to the movies, balancing different timelines, casting Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell as the same character, and show’s new creatures.

'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters' director and executive producer Matt Shakman.

‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ director and executive producer Matt Shakman. Photo: Apple TV+.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about having the opportunity to dive into the backstory of Monarch and, with this series, connect it to the MonsterVerse movies?

Matt Shakman: What I love so much about what Chris Black and Matt Fraction, who created the show, have done here is they’ve created this beautiful human-centric way into the MonsterVerse. I think if you’re a fan of the MonsterVerse movies and of Godzilla, there is so much here that you will love. It’s full of Easter eggs, and it’s a puzzle that works within existing mythology. But if you are not familiar with that mythology, there’s a way in as well through the eyes of these wonderful characters who also don’t know anything about this MonsterVerse and are learning as they go. So, it’s an emotional story that works within a complicated couple of timelines. I think what is most impressive is that it’s a multi-generational family drama, that it also is combined with epic storytelling and colossal action.

Anders Holm and Mari Yamamoto in 'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,' premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

(L to R) Anders Holm and Mari Yamamoto in ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

MF: As you mentioned, the show does unfold in two separate timelines. Can you talk about the challenges of navigating those different storylines across different timelines?

MS: It’s very clever what Matt and Chris created because we have a trio in the past and a trio in the present, and there are direct connections that we learn about as the series goes on, how they’re related. Their stories get more and more intertwined as the show goes on. There are thematic resonances, too, that are happening. They’ve created a story that truly is about legacy. It’s in the title of the show, and it makes a whole lot of sense. It’s about, obviously, this organization Monarch, but it’s about the Randa family in the present day. It’s Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe) who learn about each other, realize they have a sibling they did not know about, and that there’s a lot they did not know about their father. Then, we’re learning about their grandparents in a way who are the founders of Monarch, and about Hiroshi’s parents. So, there’s a whole lot of stories about trauma, discovery, love and loss that trickles down from the 1950s all the way to 2014 and 2015.

Kurt Russell in 'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,' premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Kurt Russell in ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Related Article: Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell and Godzilla Feature in the First Images From New Series ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’

MF: Whose brilliant idea was it to cast both Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell as Lee Shaw, and what was it like for you working with both actors?

MS: That was an idea that just presented itself by fate, I think, really. It was incredible to work with them. They’re both brilliant actors. I’m a huge fan of Kurt Russell going way back, just like I am of Godzilla, and I’m a huge fan of Wyatt’s, too. It was amazing to be able to work with them to create one character. I think they had been offered father/son things before, understandably, because they bear such a striking resemblance to each other, but then nothing had clicked, or they hadn’t found the right project, but they really wanted to work together. Then here we go. We have this idea that they could play the same character. What’s fun about it is they’re very different actors. They’re different in their vibes. They’re different in the way they approach things. I think they really loved the idea of, “Oh, well, I’ll take a little bit from Wyatt, and I’ll take a little bit from Kurt, and we’ll put it together, and we’ll create our own version of a character that we might not otherwise have created in that way.” It became a family project.

Wyatt Russell in 'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,' premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Wyatt Russell in ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

MF: Finally, can you tease fans about the new creatures they will see in this series and how you wanted those monsters to look?

MS: We have obviously legendary characters that you see, like Godzilla from the Toho films and from the legendary MonsterVerse. We’ve got characters from there. But we did get to invent a whole bunch of new characters, and that is just super exciting for a MonsterVerse fan to be able to add things. What’s great about the monsters we were creating is we wanted them to fit into their environment, whether it was on the ice in a world of snow or whether it was part of Skull Island. When we were creating the opening for John Goodman, we had all sorts of different ideas about how that would’ve worked and what creatures would be involved. But when I found this location in Hawaii that was this volcanic rock jetty that went out into the water, it felt exactly like Skull Island. I was like, “Oh, we’ve got to shoot here.” I went climbing down to the end of it, and suddenly, all these crabs that I didn’t see that were camouflaged against the rock ran away. I thought, “Oh, my gosh. Well, that’s what we must do. We have to do a camouflaged crab monster that fits this environment.” So, the environment inspired us. Then we looked at all sorts of different crabs and other creatures we could smoosh together, and then that just made it big and threw it at one of these characters that we love. That’s the joy of it.

Mantleclaw in 'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,' premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

Mantleclaw in ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ premiering November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+.

What is the plot of ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’?

Following the epic battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, two siblings (Anna Sawai and Ren Watabe), following in their father’s footsteps, uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues introduce them to the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later where Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows. The dramatic saga, spanning three generations, reveals buried secrets and the ways that epic, earth-shattering events can reverberate through our lives.

Who is in the cast of ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’?

'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,' coming soon to Apple TV+.

‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,’ coming soon to Apple TV+.

Movies Similar to ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’:

Buy ‘King Kong’ Movies on Amazon

Buy ‘Godzilla’ Movies on Amazon

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