Kitsch and Stanton discuss John Carter

Taylor Kitsch has worked with some of Hollywood’s greatest actors — from Kyle Chandler and Liam Neeson to John Travolta, Oliver Stone and Selma Hyeck.

“I had to put them all on my back, all of them,” the actor joked in a conversation with The Cord from his home in Austin, Texas.

Kitsch’s acting career was jump-started by his portrayal of Tim Riggins on the NBC series, Friday Night Lights. The show, adored by fans and critics alike, developed a cult following, with Riggins as one of the series most revered characters. The 30-year-old British Columbia native used notoriety earned portraying Riggins to earn roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Bang Bang Club.

Kitsch’s most recent project, John Carter, saw the actor paired with Andrew Stanton, two-time Oscar winner and the creative director behind Wall-E and the Toy Story trilogy.

Of Stanton, Kitsch delivered candid praise, “For what he’s achieved, you’re dealing with a guy who has zero ego. I think that’s why this movie is what it is. I would go to war with this guy, you know. I would do whatever it took to do justice with him.”

John Carter, based on the sci-fi stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, is the story of a Civil War veteran transported to Mars. There, he discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Stanton employed the same technology utilized in James Cameron’s Avatar to shoot and record actors playing these barbarians, called Tharks.

To The Cord, director Andrew Stanton explained the journey of John Carter — from Burrough’s classic stories to the big screen. “The harsh truth of it is, not many people know about it. It’s not like Harry Potter or Tolkien. There wasn’t this massive social pressure about how it was executed.”

“I’m a huge fan,” continued Stanton, “I’ve read the books my whole life — I’m probably one of the more rabid fans. I didn’t want it screwed up. That’s how I got pregnant with this idea.”

“I was telling Disney, when the property suddenly went back to the estate in 2006, I told them you’ve got to make this. I want to see this on screen. I’ve been waiting 35 years. Suddenly, they said yes and gave it to me.”

“To breathe life into Stanton’s childhood dream, I think that’s a pretty amazing thing to do and be a part of,” said Kitsch.

After Disney agreed to make the film with Stanton attached, the challenge lay in how best to approach the making of the film. “My interest was, what’s the timeless human aspect about the characters. That will always speak to me, no matter what’s going on in the world,” said Kitsch.

“Having a person that discovers that they think they’re purpose is life is over and was misguided to begin with, suddenly find they really do fit in, I think that’s what all of us are searching to do.”

“That’s why you’re all in college, right, you’re all trying to figure out ‘where do I fit’ and ‘what’s my true calling.’”

A ten minute preview of the film released Sunday by Disney in anticipation of its Friday release suggests that John Carter will contain more grit and substance than media campaigns have led the public to believe. Fans of Breaking Bad will be pleased to see Brian Cranston in the role of a U.S. cavalryman.

Both Stanton and Kitsch reflected on the intense physical challenges the film presented. Stanton, whose resume consists primarily of animated films, explained the unique filming situation, joking, “Animators don’t stand up. They sit all the time. And you’re doing it under a very tight schedule, whereas you have sort of banker’s hours when you’re doing animation. The big difference is physical stamina. I know that’s not sexy, but it’s the truth of it.”

“You’re on bended knees at times, not even able to walk to set you’re so exhausted. It was a test of how many days you question the love of your work because you just want to sleep another eight hours,” agreed Kitsch.
The finished product, according to the director, is well worth the physical hardships the cast had to overcome.

“It’s all in the journey of wanting a sort of one-of-a-kind adventure.”

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