The epic tale of John Carter is a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom, which is known to humans as Mars. The movie’s lead character, John Carter [played by Taylor Kitsch], is a war-weary, former military captain who’s inexplicably transported to Barsoom 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 the planet and its people rests in his hands.
Featuring stunning special effects, jaw-dropping action sequences and unforgettable characters, 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 actor Dominic West – who stars as Sab Than in the movie – to find out more…
What was it like to work alongside fellow actors Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in John Carter?
Taylor Kitsch [who plays John Carter] and Lynn Collins [who plays the warrior princess Dejah Thoris] are very, very cool people. Occasionally, talented young actors get overwhelmed and become slightly offhand – but that’s not the case with these two. Taylor and Lynn worked really hard on the movie, even if they were punished physically in terms of what they had to do for their roles. At times, Taylor got really beaten up while shooting his action sequences. Plus, he was wearing almost nothing for much of the movie – but he was incredible.
What impressed you the most about Taylor Kitsch?
Taylor is very down to Earth and a total delight to work with. He went out of his way to say, “I really liked you in this project.” And, “I really liked you in that show.” Lynn was the same. She is a black belt in karate, so she’s very well trained and she was able to take on the physical demands of the role – but she was also immensely gracious. She spent hours in the makeup room every day, which couldn’t have been easy. It was a really tough gig for Taylor and Lynn, but I think they have earned all of their success.
How did you get involved with John Carter?
Originally, I was hoping to play the role of John Carter but they said I was too old and ugly! Instead, I had to audition for a character named Sab Than. No, I’m joking. In all honesty, I was only after the role of Sab Than and I was incredibly happy when I was chosen to play him.
How did your audition go?
The audition was amazing. The director, Andrew Stanton, interviewed all of the English actors in London, and all of my acting rivals were up for the part. The audition lasted over an hour and Andrew explained everything about the film during that first meeting. He showed me some drawings and he showed some rough animation – and I was blown away by the idea and the story. Andrew spent the same amount of time with everybody who auditioned for the role, which was probably about 60 people. I thought that was an extraordinarily generous and thorough way to audition people. It made me very keen to work with him.
Are auditions traditionally much shorter?
Auditions usually last for less than two minutes, which is why this was very different. Directors often know whether they want you or not as soon as you walk into the room – but nevertheless, Andrew gave his time to every single actor auditioning. It is a completely different approach to the norm and it really affected the way everyone feels for Andrew. We would all do anything for him.
What was life like on the set of John Carter?
Life was great. There were incredibly long days of filming, but it was a lot of fun. We knew that we were involved in something epic and challenging – and we wanted to give it everything we could.
What was your most surreal moment on set?
There were quite a few surreal moments and a lot of them stem from some of the action scenes I was involved with. It’s very surreal to be dressed as a warrior and to run down a ramp threatening a tennis ball with a sword you’re holding menacingly.
Why did you have to act with a tennis ball?
I had to miss a day’s shooting because my son poked my eye, so we had to shoot the scenes I missed the following week. At that point, the other actors were shooting other scenes, so I had to act with a tennis ball instead of my fellow cast member. I think the tennis ball was meant to be Lynn Collins at one point, but I had to react to various tennis balls on the shoot. At one stage, I even had to fight a tennis ball.
What did you think when you saw the finished movie for the first time?
I thought it was amazing because when we shot everything, we had no idea what half of it was going to look like. Even though I had seen Andrew’s drawings and he had explained at great length everything that was going on, you don’t really know how it’s going to look until you see it on screen. It was really thrilling to see the settings, especially the palace. I shot scenes in there for a couple of weeks, so I knew it pretty well – but it was completely transformed for the movie. Suddenly you’re seeing a familiar room transformed into something that’s 600 feet high with an extraordinary ceiling. It blew me away.
John Carter is an interplanetary adventure; do you believe there is life out there in the universe?
I think it’s highly unlikely there isn’t anything out there; there must be. Of course there is! It’s just a question of creating the ship to get us out there. It was only 100 years ago that people rarely saw their next town or village, let alone visit a different country. In fact, it was as far fetched for people to visit another country as it is for us to explore life on other planets. But I think it’s all out there. Anything we can imagine is out there. I’m sure we’ll find out about it some time soon.
When you signed up to appear in John Carter, had you read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ book, A Princess Of Mars, on which the movie is based?
No, I hadn’t read the book. To be honest, I’d never even heard of the Barsoom series of novels that Edgar Rice Burroughs created. When I was reading words like ‘Jeddak’ in the script, I though they were copying Star Wars. However, I then discovered that it was Star Wars that borrowed from John Carter. I read A Princess Of Mars while we were shooting the movie and I really enjoyed it, but I haven’t read any of the other books in the series.
Do you think this movie will encourage young moviegoers to read the Barsoom series of books?
I hope so. I have an idea that nobody reads books anymore, but I’d love that to change. There have been a number of campaigns in the UK where they’ve been trying to encourage children to read more, and I hope it’s working. I read to my children all the time and I think my 13-year-old daughter will probably have a read of the Barsoom series. She saw all of the Harry Potter films and then read the books, so I’m sure she’ll enjoy some of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books, too.
JOHN CARTER is Available on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Hi-Def & DVD June 5th!