Prepare for the coming of Kong with our Skull Island cast spotlight!
King Kong returns to the big screen March 10th in Kong: Skull Island. While not exactly an origin story, the film is set in 1973, just after the end of the Vietnam War. The film sees a disparate group of people who were involved in the war in one way or another head out to explore the “mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific.” The producers of Kong: Skull Island were also the minds behind 2014’s Godzilla reboot, but this is not a sequel; it is another tale set in the same “MonsterVerse.”
Recently, we posted a history of the King Kong franchise. Today, let’s take a closer look at the Skull Island cast and meet the talented individuals who star in the film opposite the mighty Kong himself.
Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad
Hiddleston has an interesting mix of major, big-budget films as well as smaller, independent projects on his resume. He is probably best known for playing Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or his role in Guillermo del Toro‘s gothic thriller Crimson Peak. He played country singer Hank Williams in I Saw the Light and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. He has also appeared in all of British director Joanna Hogg’s feature films. He won a Golden Globe for his role on the AMC mini-series The Night Manager.
As part of the Skull Island cast, Hiddleston plays James Conrad, a former British Special Air Service captain who served in the Vietnam War. He is “shell shocked” (what is now called PTSD) and hired by Bill Randa (John Goodman) as the hunter-tracker for the expedition. Hiddleston describes his character as having an “extraordinary understanding of the natural world,” and since he is British, “he doesn't have the same spiritual shadow of the Vietnam conflict.”
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard
This isn’t Sam Jackson’s first monster movie. He previously got these motherf–in’ snakes off this motherf–in’ plane. He has been in every Quentin Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction made him a household name. He’s been in franchise blockbusters including Jurassic Park, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even Star Wars (unfortunately, it was prequels). He has voiced cartoon characters (as in The Incredibles) and has played a complicated man (Shaft).
In Skull Island, Jackson plays Preston Packard, an Army lieutenant colonel who heads up the Sky Devils helicopter squadron. He is hired to bring the expedition group to Skull Island. Jackson has said that he sees himself as Captain Ahab to Kong’s Moby Dick: He sees something he doesn’t understand and rather than try to understand it, he identifies it as an enemy.
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Mason Weaver is a war photojournalist and “peace activist,” which doesn’t play well with Packard, who just returned from Vietnam. Unsurprisingly, as the pretty blonde, Mason bonds with Kong.
Brie Larson came to acclaim for her role in Room, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress. But she has been acting since she was a child, with early roles in Touched by an Angel, Popular, and To Have & To Hold, followed by roles in bigger films such as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and 21 Jump Street. Like many of her Skull Island co-stars, she will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel.
You can tour the photographs of Larson’s Mason Weaver in the gallery viewer at the bottom of this page.
John Goodman as William Randa
As a senior operative in the secret government organization called Monarch, Randa is in charge of the expedition to Skull Island. He has been looking for this landmass for 30 years, and uses NASA’s recent satellite program as an excuse to check out the island for “rare earth elements.”
Goodman is best known for playing Dan Connors for nearly a decade on the sitcom Roseanne. Other notable guest spots on the small screen include The West Wing, The Simpsons, Futurama, Community, and Treme. With nearly 100 films to his credit, it is hard to narrow down some of his best roles, but in the last few years he has appeared in 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Monuments Men, Argo and Inside Llewelyn Davis. His roles in Arachnophobia and The Big Lebowski made him a cult icon; he has played Fred Flintstone and voiced characters in Monsters, Inc., Cars, and The Princess and the Frog. A favorite of the Coen Brothers and Saturday Night Live, Goodman excels in both comedy and drama. He is the only major actor in Skull Island who hasn’t appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… yet.
John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow
Hank Marlow is a World War II lieutenant who has been stranded on Skull Island for the last 28 years. He is aware of the creatures on the island, and is friendly with the Iwi natives.
Reilly has had a varied career, with roles in films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Hours, Gangs of New York, The Perfect Storm and Hoffa. He is a frequent collaborator with Will Ferrell, in movies like Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, as well as Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule). His role in the Marcel Cinematic Universe is as Corpsman Dey in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks
Houson Brooks is Yale graduate who is recruited as the geologist for the expedition. According to actor Corey Hawkins, his character thinks “Randa is crazy, but he’s a young black man in the ’70s and sees this as a stepping stone.”
Corey Hawkins has had a number of high-profile roles in his young career. Most notably, he played Dr. Dre in the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. He is currently starring in 24: Legacy, the reboot of the popular Kiefer Sutherland TV series. He also plays Heath in The Walking Dead, starting last season. He had a small role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 3 and also starred in the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop.
Jing Tian as San
Rounding out the Skull Island cast is Jing Tian as San, a Monarch staffer and a biologist who has tracked anomalies in the jungles of Brazil. Tian says that her character knows what they might find on Skull Island. San and Brooks are a “great team” who “look out for each other.”
Jing Tian’s first American movie is this year’s The Great Wall. She is one of China’s leading actresses, often taking action roles that allow her to perform her own stunts. Some of her biggest films include the blockbusters Police Story 2013 (with Jackie Chan); From Vegas to Macao (with Chow Yun-fat), and Special ID (with Donnie Yen). Her next film will be the Pacific Rim sequel.