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PR 10 Things You Never Knew About John Carter and a Willem Dafoe Interview

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Catch up with actors Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins, as well as the film's director Andrew Stanton, to bring you the low-down on the jaw-dropping, action-packed adventure and read an interview with Willem Dafoe, who plays a 9-foot tall alien called Tars Tarkas.

John Carter is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Hi-Def & DVD June 5th!



Pssst! Want to know the hottest on-set secrets about Disney's epic new movie, John Carter? We catch up with actors Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins, as well as the film's director Andrew Stanton, to bring you the low-down on the jaw-dropping, action-packed adventure...

John Carter Secret One: Taylor Kitsch Read Hundreds Of Civil War Letters To Research The Role!
"The start of the movie takes place during the Civil War," explains actor Taylor Kitsch, who plays John Carter. "To research the role, I sat down with historians at the University Of Texas, which was very interesting. I also sat down for nine hours with a historian who was incredibly informative. I went to his house and we went through what Civil War books I could read and what movies I should watch. I also read hundreds of letters that Civil War soldiers wrote home. I attached myself to a few of those that really stood out for me, and that was how I got into character!"


John Carter Secret Two: Lynn Collins Spent Up To Five Hours In The Makeup Chair Every Day!
"I play a warrior princess called Dejah in John Carter," reveals actress Lynn Collins. "Dejah is from Barsoom [aka Mars], which meant I had to wear a lot of red makeup and have crazy tattoos painted on my body for the role. In the beginning, it took up to five hours in makeup. I am Irish and freckly, so they had to pile on layers and layers of fake tan and bronzer to make me look like a Martian princess. It took forever, but it looked fantastic!"

John Carter Secret Three: The Cast's Fake Tattoos Took Hours To Scrub Off!
"I also had to wear a fake tan and have tattoos painted on to my skin for my Martian character, Sab Than," reveals actor Dominic West. "Thankfully, you can wash off the tan quite quickly, but I can't say the same for the fake tattoos. After spending three months covered in tattoos, they were incredibly tough to scrub away, so I let them fade naturally. My kids thought it was ridiculous when they spotted them on my arms and legs weeks after we'd finished shooting the movie!"

John Carter Secret Four: Lawrence Of Arabia Was A Big Inspiration Behind The Movie!
"I was inspired by a lot of movies when I was working on John Carter," admits director Andrew Stanton. "I looked at two Westerns called Jeremiah Johnson and The Outlaw Josey Wales for a darker, somber sense of the gritty west; I looked at The Last Emperor for a beautiful sense of a large-scale city in its dying days; I looked at Heaven's Gate for its cinematography; and I also looked at Lawrence Of Arabia because it's the ultimate desert film. You reference a million things on a project like John Carter, but I never tried to follow any singular movie."

John Carter Secret Five: The Cast And Crew Tackled Violent Sandstorms During The Film Shoot!
"I had a lot of fun filming John Carter," reveals actor Willem Dafoe, who plays Tars Tarkas in the movie. "We shot half the movie in England, which was fun, and the other half in Utah, where the weather was a bit of a problem. We were in the desert, so we never faced any problems with rain - but we did experience a number of sandstorms. They were horrible! During sandstorms, we would wear goggles, but you would almost choke from the sand. It was really extreme and scary. We'd wrap up in scarves and wish for them to go away quickly!"

John Carter Secret Six: Taylor Kitsch Wore A Fake Beard In The Movie!
"My character is fairly hairy in the movie, but I'll let you into a little secret: I wore a fake beard for some of the scenes," chuckles Taylor Kitsch. "I never wore a wig; I had a lot of fake hair on my face, but never on the top of my head. I had a fake beard that was glued on during certain parts of the movie - but that was all. After 14 hours in glue, you want to rip that stuff off your face, but you can't. It was tough!"

John Carter Secret Seven: Willem Dafoe Spent Much Of The Movie With A Man Hidden Behind His Back!
"It was an interesting challenge to play a 9-foot-tall Martian, which is why I spent most of the movie shoot performing on huge stilts," admits Willem Dafoe. "My character has four arms, so I'd often have a stunt guy standing behind me dressed in green; he provided the other two arms. Sometimes that would seem ridiculous, but you just have to accept it and forget about it. It's all part of being an actor!"

John Carter Secret Eight: The Martian Alphabet In The Movie Is Based On Symbols Found On Mars!
"The Martian alphabet in our movie is based on real symbols found on the surface of the planet Mars," explains producer Jim Morris. "If you stare at the planet closely, it looks like there are huge, almost Arabic letters in certain places. We now know these are frozen carbon dioxide deposits, but if you look at them through a telescope, the markings look like giant, man-made objects. We styled the Barsoomian alphabet in our movie after them."

John Carter Secret Nine: A Speech Pathologist Helped The Cast With The Language In The Movie!
"My character spends the beginning of the movie speaking Thark, which is very different to English," reveals Willem Dafoe. "We don't use the Thark language too much in John Carter, but the cast got together to learn it when we first started work on the project. Some of the words are tough to pronounce, but we met with a professional speech pathologist to learn how to say everything properly. It was a very interesting process!"

John Carter Secret Ten: Andrew Stanton Was A Huge Practical Joker On The Set!
"I really enjoyed working with Andrew Stanton on John Carter," admits Dominic Carter. "He is a great practical joker! Taylor Kitsch used to walk on set with a handheld piece of gym equipment to pump up his muscles before the cameras started to roll. Well, for one of his jokes, Andrew decided to secretly buy the special piece of equipment for every member of the crew. When we had a big scene and Taylor walked on to the set with his special gym gear, we all pulled out our equipment and did it, too. Taylor was in hysterics when he realized what was happening! Moments like that are pretty surreal when you're shooting a movie. It was hilarious!"


John Carter is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Hi-Def & DVD June 5th!


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.

Tars TarkasJCarter.jpg

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!

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

June 3, 2012, 12:25 pm - PR
Keywords: sci-fi

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