Willem Dafoe is Playing a 9-Foot Tall Alien in John Carter of Mars
We've known that Willem Dafoe had been cast in Andrew Stanton's John Carter of Mars since July, so that's not the news here today, but the actor talked with both AICN and MTV recently and revealed a lot of interesting details about his character and the project. While the debate over whether James Cameron's Avatar will be a success or not still wages on, it seems the movie has already inspired other big Hollywood productions, including this one. Without seeing anything it's hard to know exactly what it'll look like, but it sounds like Stanton is working on the next Avatar-like sci-fi epic with 9-foot tall aliens and CGI characters.
John Carter of Mars is currently scheduled to start shooting next January, so Dafoe doesn't know much about it yet, but he is "very excited" and he has "seen renderings" of his character. Dafoe is playing Tars Tarkas, a leader of the Thark race who knows that the only way his people can survive is if they turn away from war. For those unfamiliar with the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels that this movie is based on (and for those curious about what Stanton is planning on doing), here's how Dafoe explains what he looks like.
"I've seen a lot of the designs and things, and I've just started to do prep work now… But I'm starting doing [CGI] 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."
Whoa, 9 feet tall with four arms? Let's not forget that this guy has green skin, too. For those of you confused, John Carter of Mars is about a Civil War soldier (played by Taylor Kitsch) who is transported to the red planet where warring races of aliens vie for control and he gets mixed up in things (and falls in love with a martin princess, of course). Although Dafoe's character is a member of the Tharks, a brutal and mirthless race of green martins, Tars possesses a sense of compassion and empathy uncharacteristic of his race. So, importantly, he'll need to be able to convey those emotions even though he'll be a green martian.
"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."
In the interview with AICN, Dafoe was also asked if he had worked out a voice for the martian yet. "No," Dafoe said, "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." I was excited already, but damn, Dafoe is really hyping this up. It sounds frickin' epic!
Lastly, one area of this project we've been unsure about since it was first announced is whether it will be completely CGI or live-action or some hybrid mix of both. Stanton has always been vague while answering that question. Dafoe also gave two vague answer. "It is going to be a combination," he told AICN. "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," he told MTV. Stanton previously said that John Carter will be the "perfect definition of a hybrid movie," integrating live-action and computer-based animation.
Without seeing any of the actual designs oursleves, it's hard to get a real sense of how Andrew Stanton's John Carter of Mars will actually look, but I can't stop thinking of Avatar. That movie is also a blend of live-action and CGI animation and features 9-foot tall aliens on an entirely new planet as well. Though that comes from the mind of James Cameron, this comes from the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I'm excited to hear more about this and, in due time, get a glimpse at what it'll all look like. Anyone else interested?