Actor Haruo Nakajima, best known for playing Godzilla in twelve films from 1954 to 1972, has died aged 88.

His death was confirmed by the Japanese film company Toho but a statement has not been released.

Nakajima first starred as the iconic monster in 1954's Godzilla directed by Ishiro Honda. That same year he also starred in Akira Kurosawa's critically-acclaimed and highly-influential Seven Samurai.

The actor, who is known as "Mr. Godzilla" in Japan, wore the Godzilla suit for twelve films. Nakajima said his Godzilla costume was created from concrete and weighed approximately 100 kilos.

He said he had little direction on how to portray the monster, and did his own research by studying animals in Toyko Zoo.

"My biggest influence came from bears, the way bears move is very interesting," he said in a 2008 documentary about playing the monster.

The actor played monsters in other films including Ishiro Honda's Mothra in 1961 and King Kong in 1967’s King Kong Escapes.

Nakajima also had roles in the Japanese films War of the Gargantuan, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and Eagle of the Pacific.

Fans of the actor have paid tribute to him on Twitter.