Interview: Taylor Kitsch of 'John Carter'
'I've got to go beyond all out to make you believe that I'm there.'
Perhaps best known for playing Riggins on "Friday Night Lights," Canadian-born Taylor Kitsch steps into not one but two huge could-be-franchises this year, Peter Berg's "Battleship" and, of course, Andrew Stanton's "John Carter," in the title role. We spoke with Kitsch in Arizona about scale, success, giving your all ro the role and if he'll be watching ticket sales the first weekend …
When you sign up for this film, and they say, "It's a hundred year-old book that's inspired a lot of Twentieth Century science fiction. It's going to require huge amounts of special effects. Oh, and you're playing the guy it's named after." What's the tension meter go up to when you realize that?
Taylor Kitsch: No pressure, man. No pressure whatsoever.
You're obviously being sarcastic.
Yes, I am. That's the dry humor, the awkward dry humor I'll throw out there. I don't know. After you have a meeting with Andrew Stanton, who -- of course it's his childhood dream, and you're leaving, and the phone (rings with) the managers and the team, and you're like, "Basically, anything I've got to do to get this role. I'll do it. My hat is truly in the ring right now, so I'm going to go there." To work with a guy like that, obviously it's a risk, like you just played out, but it's more or less you're going to grow from that experience, and I truly did. It was so fun, and an honor to play that guy.
I'm always very curious about the disconnect between reading something and doing it. For example it says in the script, "John Carter, because he's from Earth and Mars has lighter gravity, he can jump high, and he's strong and more durable." Then you get on the set and they're hooking you up to wires to haul you sixty feet into the air. What was your leaning curve on the wirework?
It's so technical that I don't think you'll ever have it perfected. But there's definitely moments when they're counting, "Three, two, one," and you're ninety plus feet in the air, and you're going to free fall for a while -- it puts you in the moment. It's more of a fun ride than anything. I enjoyed a lot of it. Sometimes in the morning when you'd be there at 6am and you open your trailer door and that harness is glowing looking back at you, you kind of don't want to deal with it at that time, but at the end of the day in the film it really is worth that sacrifice.
I was lucky enough to see the film's set in Britain. They'll build a section of the set, and the rest of it will be filled in by CG. All of the Tharks are there on stilts, and they'll be covered up by performance capture. What percentage of the actual film do you see while you're making it? Is it ten? Is it five? Have you seen the finished film yet?
I've seen the finished film. I'm very proud of it. (And) it depends what scene. There are scenes on earth that are full scale, full sets, and you know what it's going to be by the end of the day. Then there are scenes like the great white ape scene. We can use that for example, that obviously there's no such thing as great white apes. They built about a quarter half of the arena, and there wasn't an arena full of Tharks, so you're making a full speech, a rally speech, to the clouds at the time. There's all that, but within all that lies an immense amount of trust with Stanton that he's going to do it, and that I've got to go beyond all out to make you believe that I'm there.
There are a number of books in this series. The first weekend box office, are you going to be following it waiting to see if you'll get the phone call, "Hey, keep working out. Grow your beard, and work on your Virginia accent?"
I don't think I'll excessively track it. I want people to enjoy the ride like the next guy, but my heart's in it, so I'd love to do it another time, because I just think it's such an incredible story. The journey I make in it … hopefully you guys have that same journey in just watching it.
("John Carter" opens today …)
Someone (Mr Antagonist),
You probably have no idea of how old the idea really is.
The character of John Carter was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also created Tarzan) in a series begun in 1912.
To Laure & husband: Get a life!
To Someone (Mr. Antagonist): I saw the movie yesterday, although I hadn't intended to. It was a surprise--fun and, at times, funny and generally entertaining.
This is just what I think but movies are meant to entertain and if this one does good for it. I have read a lot of Edger Rice Burroughs's books and enjoyed them...what he thought the character looked like should not be a reason to not see the movie..If it bothers you, don't go.
We went to the highly touted "Hugo" and were bored to death....people walked out in the middle and I wish we had...and it was up for an Academy Award... We will give this movie a chance ...why be against something you have not seen ?
I have been a John Carter fan since the '70s. I'm sixty years old,a published writer,and,most importantly,recently lost my big brother Johnny.But he was more than that! He was a fill-in dad;a best friend;and my lifelong hero.Johnny,who was a badass who never lost a fight in or out of the ring,was everything I'm not. Yet our friendship was near-mythic.We shared everything...including looking forward;despite years of false starts;different studios;and failed attempts,to John Carter,the Granddaddy of ALL space-fantasy since,to be made into a movie.And,thanks to each and every person who turned this into the labor of love of ERB's original,this movie DOES NOT disappoint!Others can nitpick it all they want;who cares?! Nobody was more critical of movies - from dialogue to facial expressions;from music to custume design,than my buddy.He criticized even his own personal favorites,finding a line here or a bit there,that just didn't work. And I can say,without reservation, what VERY few complaints my friend would've had, Johnny would've loved this movie as much as I did! My only regret about it? Johnny wasn't physically there to see a movie we had discussed as potentially great if done right for over 40 yrs. I just hope & pray that, since they did get it so right;since it does live up to all that potential;Big Bad Johnny
was there in spirit to see & love it with me.
These books (John Carter series) carried me through several tours in Viet Nam waters. They gave me a respite from the tribulations of the war and I spent a lot of my off duty time with them. I'm 72 now and have started to reread all of them. I will see the Movie as soon as it reaches my out in the country place here in Mississippi. ERB was a fantastic writer and I do hope they have done him Justice.
For those few twisted who may try and find a hidden message in the movie... Well, it's just a movie and is for entertainment purposes only.
Right accent, perfect look, correct physique and dignified bearing to carry off the range of the role. With Ray Harryhausen doing the special effects ala "Jason and the Argonauts".
I'll wait for the DVD since the "John Carter of Mars "(they forgot that part) trailer looks too much like Star Wars episode II with its heaps of clones.
Any actor for this part needs gravitas, literally, even as he encounters the lower gravity of "Barsoom". It's not from a comic book, but is based on a trilogy that took on corrupt religious maniacs, degenerate cultures, the value of love over cruelty and collectivism, and other surprising profound subjects for a sci fi romance.
Looks more like the end result here is a demolition derby with aliens.