Willem Dafoe Talks John Carter of Mars & His Character

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

Not long after the announcement that Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins were cast in the lead roles in the upcoming adaptation of John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of novels, we found out the talented Willem Dafoe would be playing an important character in the film(s) as well.

At the time, we knew that Dafoe would be playing the role of Tars Tarkas, a big green Martian who eventually befriends the Kitsch’s John Carter, after an unfriendly beginning to their relationship. Tarkas is a warrior and leader of his people and a very unique one at that because he, against the laws and norms of his society, shows compassion and sympathy, and even had a child secretly with the woman he loved (child bearing is a major criminal offense of his people) – he actually believes war isn’t the answer for his kind.

Dafoe spoke recently about the early stages of development for the production and his character – check it out after the jump.

Capone at Ain’t It Cool News spoke with Dafoe recently and they touched on the topic of John Carter. Here are some highlights of what was said, starting with their thoughts on Disney, Pixar and director Andrew Stanton:

“But, you’ve heard about it [Pixar Studios]. You must go. Get an excuse to go! I mean, I guess everything’s changing for them. This is Disney, anyway, but it’s Andrew Stanton. And, I’ve seen a lot of the designs and things, and I’ve just started to do prep work now. I’m doing a play in New York, so I’m kind of preoccupied by that, but I’m starting doing scans and things like that, but it’s going to be a real full-on… Well, I’m nine feet tall with four arms, but, just from the scheduling, I’m going to do the stuff.”

A nine-foot tall four-armed green alien… believe it or not, that ain’t weird for Dafoe.

Will the CGI and make-up capture his facial expressions and allow him to emote?

“Well, we hope. And, also, they’ll use my face, but they’ll enhance it in a way–both after and before–in a way that I may not be recognizable. But, I’m good with that. It’s particularly cool, because he’s a creature, but he’s got this huge range of character. And, he does cool things in the movies.”

Will he be talking Alien? Have they figured out what voice or dialect will be used for the Thark people?

“No, but there’s a whole period where we’re going to work with the language and the movement, and find out how I’m going to be nine feet tall, and all that stuff…like, a long period of time where we’re going to go to Thark school, you know what I mean? We’re going to create our culture. So, it’s going to be very cool. These guys know how to do this, and they’ve got great people. And, the designs and things are just mind-blowing.”

Dafoe also confirmed that the movie will be a combination of live-action and heavy CGI, something that was already hinted at during the casting announcements.

The films are said to mesh live-action and computer-based animation together in a way similar to what James Cameron has done with his eagerly anticipated Avatar. With Disney and Pixar behind the project and the promise of a series of movies on the same scale of Pirates of the Caribbean, I have high hopes for John Carter of Mars and what it will eventually look like on screen.


john carter of mars thark Willem Dafoe Talks John Carter of Mars & His Character
Will Dafoe look like the dead Thark in this image?

MTV also had a chance to chat with Willem Dafoe while he was promoting his film, Antichrist, at TIFF and managed to get a little tidbit of interesting info out of the actor and whether or not he’s seen what his character will look like.

“I’ve seen renderings… Andrew Stanton comes out of Pixar and the amount of research and development that they do on this stuff is incredible. And I’ll be involved in part of that.”

Dafoe also says soon there will be a time for him to work with the studio on his movement and speech to figure out the type of voice he’ll put on to match his tall-standing alien. He also explained that movies won’t simply be over-the-top eye candy, that it will have a slight political undertone.

That’s the latest on John Carter of Mars – don’t forget to check out the round-up to see the entire cast of John Carter of Mars. This movie has strong talent behind it and a high-quality studio. I expect big things from the movie and it’ll no doubt launch the career of its Canadian lead, Taylor Kitsch, hopefully making him bankable lead star and possibly giving him more opportunities of playing Gambit again in the X-Men film franchise.

What do you think of Dafoe’s character and casting choice? He’s perfect in my mind.

Shooting begins for John Carter of Mars next January.

Sources: AICN, MTV

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  1. Seems like it’s going to be a bloody good movie. If there’s anyone I trust to bring me really good movies, it’s Stanton (okay, so he’s only done 2 movies so far, but still, they’re damn good).

  2. Dafoe was the only reason to watch the first Spiderman flick, and i loved that his character spread through the sequel. Any other actor would have been ridiculous in that part, but Dafoe is always excellent. Antichrist is unpleasant though.

  3. dafoe is the man and this was supposedly inspiration for Cameron and Avatar.

  4. The books were great. It looks like the movie is going in the right direction so far. Hope it continues. Can’t wait to see it.

  5. I have hoped to see this brought to the big screen for a long time. It sounds like they will do it justice. Ironic that since it was originally going to be the very first animated disney flick before ‘snow white’ , that the deal is with disney/pixar!
    I hope they do give a nod to Frazetta’s iconic artwork though, particularly in the landscapes and especially with Dafoe’s character, my life-long favorite sci-fi character, Tars-tarkas.
    Great casting so far!Already planning the party!

  6. I’ve been waiting 40 plus years to see Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series brought to the screen. The Gods of Mars was the first book I ever read and it turned me into an instant sci-fi addict.
    William Defoe is one of the few actors who could show the nobility that the Tars Tarkus had.
    I really don’t know much about the other actors. I just hope all of them are extremely good.
    The Mars series is what started the entire wave of sci-fi adventure novels that are still being written today. If it’s swashbuckling and it’s sci-fi then its roots go back to ERB’s Mars series.
    This is a BIG EVENT.
    Please don’t blow it by making a sub-par movie.

    Take Care
    Have Fun
    The Creator of The John Dark Books.