Monarch Cast on Facing Monsters, Love Triangles, and Godzilla Turning 70

Eric Goldman
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It’s Godzilla’s world, we just live in it. The world-famous creature is seemingly everywhere these days, from a current big screen international hit, to the recently-debuted series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. That Apple TV+ show is a part of the MonsterVerse film series, continuing elements and concepts first introduced in 2014’s Godzilla movie.

Fandom recently spoke to several of Monarch’s cast for a mid-season check in (the first first round of press for the series was done while the SAG-AFTRA strike was occurring, only allowing the writers and producers to initially promote the show). They discussed the show’s focus on a group of characters in two eras who are in the orbit of the monster-tracking organization Monarch – and thus in the orbit of Godzilla and other extraordinary Titans. They also chatted about the two love triangles the show includes in its two time periods and the durability of Godzilla, who’s turning 70 next year.


Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) has to deal with life with Godzilla in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters uses the events of Godzilla 2014 as a crucial part of its backstory, as Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) tries to deal with her PTSD from the attack on San Francisco depicted in that film and the awful events she saw occur.

Said Sawai, “Obviously making a movie [series] into a TV show, we had to talk about something more than just showing monsters destroying the world. And so they decided to talk about the aftermath and the people that are affected by it.”

The show focuses on two time periods, as we see Cate’s grandparents, Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) and Bill (Anders Holm) in the 1950s, when they were a part of Monarch’s early days, and Sawai said, “I think it’s so lovely, because in the show, we get to see the older generation and the effect that it has on the modern day character because of the choices that they’ve made. I think it’s really interesting.”

The Ion Dragon strikes in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

As much as Monarch focuses on interpersonal dynamics, there are still monsters to deal with for the characters in both eras, and Yamamoto remarked, “It’s so much fun, because you don’t really get to react to something so colossal – that doesn’t really happen in your life! So getting to go as big as you want, having permission to do that, was a lot of fun.”

Joe Tippett, who plays Monarch employee Tim, noted he liked that the show allowed for lots of character drama but also the monster moments, saying, “There’s so many great relationships and stuff like that in the show. You get to do both. So it’s like, some days, you’re having great, meaty scenes with other actors. And then you get to do the blue screen, tennis ball stuff, which is a lot of fun.”


(L-R) Anders Holm as Bill Randa, Mari Yamamoto as Keiko Miura and Wyatt Russell in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

We know that it’s Keiko and Bill that end up together, but flashbacks have confirmed that not only did their friend and colleague Lee Shaw (played by Wyatt Russell in the 1950s scenes and his father, Kurt Russell, in the more contemporary scenes) once have feelings for Keiko, she felt the same and nearly acted upon it.

Pondering the situation, and the trust the three friends continue to have in one another through the years, Yamamoto said, “The writers like to say that Billy is Mr. Right And Lee is Mr. Right Now. I think that makes sense. But also, I do think that people can have multiple soulmates. They can be friends, they can be family, they can be your pet, they can be your lover, your spouse… They can take different forms.”

She added, “I think the three of them are soulmates in a way, and you know, it’s not Billy & Keiko, it’s not Keiko & Lee… It couldn’t have happened without any of them missing. So in that sense, I think they all belong together. That’s how I like to think of it.”

Anders Holm as Bill Randa and Mari Yamamoto as Keiko Miura in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Bill was aware of the once-budding romance between Keiko and Lee, but while there are still gaps to fill in, by the time he and Keiko are together, he doesn’t seem to have any tension with Lee. Said Anders Holm, “I think he processed it. We’ve all been to weddings where the bridesmaids or the [groomsmen]… someone used to date the bride or the groom. It’s just how it is and they’re still there at the wedding and happy for the person getting married.”

Like Yamamoto, Holm felt, “There’s love between all of them. There’s love between Billy and Keiko, but I think what supersedes everything is the mission and the work and that spans time. Because our characters put work before our love and our families, my son grows up to do the exact same thing to his family. And they’re putting the pieces together and they’re like ‘Is family more important than saving the world?’”

As huge as the stakes of the show are, Holm felt they were still something the audience could connect to in a broader sense, remarking, “It’s something we all relate to. Like, I’m here in New York right now, doing this [promoting the show], not with my family, but hey, this is my job. Right now, it’s more important, you know? I think it’s more relatable than people might realize.”


(L-R) Anna Sawai as Cate Randa, Ren Watabe as Kentaro Randa and Kiersey Clemons as May Olowe-Hewitt in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Meanwhile, in the present – or 2015 at least, when the other portions of the show are set – Kieko and Billy’s grandchildren, Cate and Kentaro (Ren Watabe), have to overcome the innate tension of simply never knowing the other existed until now, because their father, Hiroshi (Takehiro Hira), had two separate families he had been keeping secret from one another. However, that tension is added to by the presence of May (Kiersey Clemons), who is Kentaro’s ex, but seems to be forming a notably close bond with Cate, which was apparent both when May was in danger and also when she was trying to leave the group – and has led to some glances from a seemingly bothered Kentaro.

The cast were tightlipped on whether this might truly turn into the messy love triangle it appears it could, but Clemons did remark, “I think that there’s a bit of trauma bonding, right? We’re all in a situation that’s pretty high stakes… Life threatening is what one could assume.”

Kiersey Clemons as May Olowe-Hewitt and Anna Sawai as Cate Randa in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Said Sawai, “Obviously, there’s tension between them because Cate sees Kentaro as the person who kind of took her father away from her. And then with May, she’s about to lose May. And I think going through and getting through those kinds of incidents, [that] ties you stronger.”

Clemons said, given the situation, “I think rapidly, they got really close and comfortable,” noting for Cate and Kentaro it’s as siblings, but that for May, it’s more complicated, describing it as “a romantic, sibling, weird, funky way.”


Godzilla in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

2024 marks the 70th anniversary of Godzilla. The character has never gone away for long, with a ton of different iterations, but right now things are especially busy, with the concurrent releases of Monarch on Apple TV+ and the unrelated hit film Godzilla Minus One in theaters and then the imminent release of the next MonsterVerse movie in March, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, which recently debuted its first trailer.

Remarking on how much is happening at once, Clemons first joked “She’s just that girl, Godzilla!” before noting “I don’t think that everyone had this master plan for Godzilla to have a comeback season. I like that it’s all happening at once. It makes me really excited.”

Every Godzilla story has the potential to be someone’s first Godzilla story, and Sawai remarked, “I would like to think that this show is giving more opportunity for people that weren’t really into the MonsterVerse because we’re talking about relatable human characters. And so if we are partaking in this whole journey of Godzilla and introducing it to the rest of the world, then that would be amazing.”

Elisa Lasowski as Michelle Duvall and Joe Tippett as Tim in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Said Michelle Duvall, who plays Elisa Lasowski on Monarch, of Godzilla’s longevity, “What makes it work is that every time Godzilla appears, it’s a massive event. And the whole point of the films and what our show, in my opinion, does quite well is just to build up anticipation. Is it going to show up? Is it not going to show up? I think you can just create stories with that energy and that sort of premise for forever.”

Said Tippett, of Godzilla stories, “By and large, they’re not just senseless destruction. They’re always sort of allegorical, whether it’s nuclear destruction or environmental stuff – whichever decade you want to choose. It’s using this premise to talk about something bigger. And I think when you’re doing that, you’re always going to be more successful than just ‘Which city can we blow up?’?

Observed Yamamoto,  “Initially, [Godzilla] was created out of the horrors of the atomic bomb in Japan. And it held so much meaning for Japanese people to be able to sort of put a figure to their trauma and fears and terrors. And I think it must have helped in some way process that trauma. And then with time, it grew and became so much more, to become sort of a representative of so many more things. And I think as time changes and different world events happen, one can kind of relate or sort of project that on these monsters in a way. There’s also this lasting theme of it being an equivalent of Mother Nature. That’s always a constant relationship that we have to reassess as human beings, so I think it’s always going to be relevant.”

New episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters debut Fridays on Apple TV+.

Eric Goldman
Eric Goldman is Managing Editor for Fandom. He's a bit obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, theme parks, and horror movies... and a few other things. Too many, TBH.