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“John Carter,” directed by Andrew Stanton and starring Taylor Kitsch, follows a former soldier who finds himself on Mars in the middle of a civil conflict.
The movie is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “A Princess of Mars,” a well-known story. While the story is not as known as “Harry Potter” or “The Lord of the Rings,” it still has a solid fan base. Creating a movie out of a familiar story puts extra pressure on both the director and actors.
“I’ve read the books my whole life and wanted to see them. I’m probably one of the more rabid fans. So I didn’t want it screwed up,” Stanton said. “To me, any good adaptation is that it made me feel like how I did reading the book.”
The movie is director Stanton’s breakthrough into live action films. In the past, Stanton has written and directed animated films, including “Toy Story,” “WALL-E,” and ”Finding Nemo.”
“[Working on a live action film is] actually not that different. People think that when you work on an animated film, that … it’s as if I’m talking to a bunch of computers my whole life. I actually talk to 200 people every day, 200 people that have different jobs, like how to do the lighting, the camera, the costume work,” Stanton said. “So it’s very similar actually in live action. I’m talking to people that do the camera, the costumes, and the actors. It’s just that you’re doing it outside instead of inside.”
Despite Stanton’s transition into live action, many of the main characters and parts of the world are Computer Graphics (CG).
“Making ‘John Carter’ was basically making two movies. Almost literally two different film productions. One was the live action side that took almost a year to do and then the computer graphic side,” Stanton said.
On top of the extra production work, the CG also required more of the actors. Kitsch, who plays John Carter, had to adjust to running through scenes without a physical counterpart.
“I’ve got big speeches in this film, where you’re looking at clouds and it’s tough to really connect to anything. So it demands that much more of you,” Kitsch said, noting exhaustion as the biggest challenge of making the movie.
Throughout the interview, Kitsch joked about his relationship with Stanton – “we can’t even stand to be in the same room with one another even now” – and his strict diet regime – “it’s the most boring diet you can think of ever,” but when it came to the more serious questions, he was thoughtful and sincere.
“I think to breathe life, into – Stanton, who directed it – his childhood dream, I think that’s a pretty amazing thing to do and be a part of,” Kitsch said.
Kitsch chooses his roles based on the other people working on the movie and the character he gets to portray. He is drawn toward “incredibly character-driven roles,” which allow him to learn and grow as an actor.
“It’s that arc of who I got to play, the guy that’s lost his cause completely. Then through this action and through these people that come into his life, they really do kind of shine that light back in and that’s why I signed onto it. If it didn’t have that emotional arc, I wouldn’t have done it,” Kitsch said.
“John Carter” is Stanton’s breakthrough into live action movies, and presents an old story in a new way. The action-adventure movie opens Friday, March 9.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ainslee Mac Naughton at Ainslee.firstname.lastname@example.org.