Next month, the city of Chicago will host a red carpet movie premiere for the next, and perhaps best, Godzilla movie to date.
The star of this movie, however, will be no Hollywood action hero, but a five-year-old boy undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. His greatest wish? To become the 800-foot-tall lizard he watched on the big screen with his father and grandfather, also huge Godzilla fans.
Maddex, whose family asked that his last name not be used, is now watching the dream he told several months ago to Make-A-Wish “wish granters” come true as his own personal Godzilla movie is filmed around his hometown of Chicago.
On Saturday, Maddex saw the first glimpse of himself as “Madzilla,” the movie’s lead character, in front of a green screen in a Chicago production studio.
Earlier in the day, he shot scenes alongside the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Bulls’ mascot, Benny, just two of the many local stars making cameos in the film.
“His parents have been talking about the joy that they’re seeing in their kid again, like, ‘Oh, there’s my boy again. There’s the joy that I remember in my little guy Maddex,’” Stephanie Springs, the CEO of Make-A-Wish Illinois, told ABC News.
Springs was one of a handful of Make-A-Wish staffers who brainstormed what to do with a five-year-old’s request to become Godzilla. When they struck upon the idea to do just that, to make him “Madzilla,” they reached out to creative forces in the Chicago community and found Jonathan Becker, the owner of Becker Films, who is leading the charge and corralling the largely pro-bono effort.
“The effect of a wish can ripple through the community and have a very positive impact in a very broad way,” said Springs. “This has been a several months-long process that we’ve been dreaming and trying to figure this child’s wish out.”
The “Madzilla” film crew also shot at Maddex’s home on Saturday – his parents, two sisters and cousin all have roles in the film – and took over a historic street in Chicago’s famed “Loop.”
“Maddex and his family were out on LaSalle Street with around 100 volunteers and extras who showed up to pretend like they were running away from an 800-foot lizard that was stomping through downtown Chicago,” said Ryan Blackburn, the marketing director for Make-A-Wish Illinois.
When “Madzilla” makes its debut next month, it will include a three-minute extended trailer of the movie as well as a 15 minute-long documentary chronicling Maddex’s Make-A-Wish experience.
“This experience is shaping this five-year-old boy in so many ways and who knows what we’ll see 10, 15, 20 years down the road when we touch base with Maddex,” Springs said. “Right now we know it’s going to help him pull through the rest of his treatments.”
Maddex just received his diagnosis in April 2013 and while Spring described his health now as “stable,” she added he is “not by any means done” with his treatments.
“He is a very happy, upbeat, energetic young boy and he has been very much just happy to be part of the project” said Blackburn, who has been with Maddex through the film’s five days of shooting so far. “The directors and others have said he is a joy to work with.”
Click HERE to follow along with the making of "Madzilla," using the hashtag #madzilla.