Walt Disney Pictures, Buena Vista
Theatrical Release: March 9, 2012
Home Release: June 5, 2012
Directed by Andrew Stanton
An Interview With Willem Dafoe For The Blu-Ray Combo Pack And Dvd Release Of John Carter
The epic tale of John Carter is a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom [Mars]. The movie’s lead character, John Carter [played by Taylor Kitsch], is a war-weary, former military captain who’s inexplicably transported to Mars and reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict. It’s a world on the brink of collapse, and Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
Stunning special effects, great characters and villains – and complete with extraordinary bonus features – John Carter is a heroic and inspirational adventure that will thrill audiences beyond imagination. With the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD of the heroic tale about to be released, we catch up with acclaimed actor Willem Dafoe – who plays a 9-foot tall alien called Tars Tarkas in the movie – to find out more about the epic project…
What attracted you to the role of Tars Tarkas in John Carter?
Initially, I was attracted to the role by the movie’s co-writer and director, Andrew Stanton. He told me all about the project, which sounded great – and he told me how they were going to shoot the movie, which also sounded great. The fact that it was a passion project for him, and the fact that it was his first live-action movie were both really attractive to me. I’d already done some Pixar projects where I’d worked with Andrew before, so I knew he was a very clever guy. I like to be around smart people because I hope some of their intelligence rubs off. That’s why I signed up for the project.
Did the script play a big role in your decision, too?
Yes, of course. However, if there’s a consistency to what attracts me to projects it’s often the people involved. Scripts are pieces of literature and I think they are not necessarily the best part of movies. If you have a great script, wonderful – but you can do some of that in television. I like tapping into the poetry of movies, the language of movies, and I think that is very powerful. I knew Andrew Stanton had a clear vision for John Carter and I knew he was the right man for the job. I was eager to work on such a passionate project for him.
How did you feel when you realized you’d be playing an animated character in Andrew Stanton’s first live-action movie?
I don’t think of it that way. For me, it was just like working a regular movie – but Tars Tarkas wears stilts and great pajamas and then they change it in Post Production. Ain’t that a cool idea?
Have you read the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs on which John Carter is based?
Edgar Rice Burroughs is famous for writing a number of books, including Tarzan, but I hadn’t read any of his Barsoon [Mars] novels before my audition for the role in John Carter. However, as soon as I knew I was going to do the movie, which was after I read the script, I read one of the books. It was important to read it, but once I read it, I didn’t return to it. I didn’t want to rely on it heavily because I wanted to be directed by Andrew’s vision.
The movie is an epic adventure set on Earth and Mars, but which of the sets impressed you the most?
The sets made by God impressed me the most. Some of the movie was shot on sound stages in the UK, but the rest of it was shot outside in Utah. The landscapes of Utah are really, really beautiful.
How did it feel to walk onto the set of John Carter for the first time?
There’s something really magical about walking through an empty set when nothing’s going on. And on our natural sets, it was like walking through an archeological dig. There is a surreal quality to it that you don’t get on a sound stage set because you’re mixing man-made elements with natural things and you’re also inviting risk and many different possibilities because of the weather.
Did the weather effect the movie’s production when you filmed on location in Utah?
We had some really bad weather sometimes and that is like a very powerful way of a force participating in your project. I think it’s really interesting because it keeps you from being too tightly controlling. You have to deal with things and while it might be a pain when it’s happening, it’s also something that keeps what you’re doing alive.
Do you believe there could be life out there in the universe?
Why not? We don’t know, so let’s think there is. I remember when I was little I was fascinated by astronauts who went up with their first space missions. I was fascinated by the idea of being in a capsule for a long time. On weekends, I would lock myself in a closet with some food and try to say in there for as long as possible. I clearly had an astronaut fantasy.
What advice do you give to aspiring actors who want to follow in your footsteps?
The only advice I ever give to people who say they want to become an actor is simple: go to the theater. Go to any theater that you love and make yourself available to them, even if it’s just to get the coffee. Even if you spend 10 years getting coffee, just get close to the theater because I believe there’s a kind of transmission and a kind apprenticeship you can do – and I think that’s the best way to go.
When it comes to movies, what one film cheers you up every time you watch it?
You know what? I don’t return to films very much. However, I’ll admit that I’ve probably seen Gone With The Wind the most because I was obsessed with it when I was a child. Even though I was a child and I was pre-adolescent, I thought Scarlett O’Hara [Vivien Leigh] was the best woman in the world. I thought she was so beautiful and she was so bad and so sexy and… Wow! Plus, I thought Rhett Butler was very cool too because he was his own man.
When it comes to your work, is it true that you like to do all of your own stunts?
That’s very true. I love to do everything that my character does because if you don’t, you are taking yourself out of the story. I still have that childlike pleasure of doing stunts. I love the athleticism and the challenge.
Did you have any accidents on the set of John Carter?
No, I was perfectly fine on the set of John Carter. I spent the entire movie acting on stilts, but I managed to keep my balance and I didn’t fall over. It was a great challenge and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the whole experience.
JOHN CARTER is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Hi-Def & DVD June 5th!