Willem Dafoe is a special man—a man deserving, like Tracy Morgan, of his own Oh Please Join Twitter campaign—and anything he has to say is intriguing to me. And it's especially intriguing if what he's talking about is "John Carter of Mars," Edgar Rice Burroughs' sci-fi series currently getting the big screen adaptation treatment from Pixar eye-candy guru Andrew Stanton ("WALL-E").
With shooting set to start in January, Dafoe's gearing up to play Tars Tarkas, a many-limbed green Martian warrior who befriends Carter (Taylor Kitsch) after he gets mysteriously transported from Civil War-era America to the Red Planet. And after getting a chance to see early takes on what his character will look like, Dafoe is pumped.
"I’ve seen renderings," the actor told MTV's Josh Horowitz recently while promoting "Antichrist" in Toronto. "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."
As Stanton himself told us earlier this year, "John Carter" will be the "perfect definition of a hybrid movie,” integrating live-action and computer-based animation. Co-star Lynn Collins, who will play humanoid Martian princess Dejah Thoris, has already started hair and makeup tests and told us her look will be akin to the "best-tan-you-can-ever-imagine." Dafoe wouldn't dish about exactly what his Tarkas will look like but he did drop one of the best quotes I've heard from a film actor all year.
"I know there’s a period where we’re going to work with movement and language," he said.
Honestly, I have no clue what he's talking about (as opposed to, ya know, all the movies where everyone stands silent in one place?), and coming from anyone else that sentence would be laughable. But seeing as it came from Dafoe, well, I'm really intrigued. And thirty seconds later in the interview, the actor dropped another zinger regarding the script.
"It’s got some stuff to it," he said in deep contemplation. "It’s got a point of view."
Indeed! He did elaborate a bit on this point, making clear that "John Carter" isn't just going to be a CGI-enhanced sugar rush. First published early in the 20th Century, the "John Carter" stories imagine Mars as a lawless frontier land and have been said to allude to the plight of Native Americans at the time.
"I don’t want to say it's political," he hinted, "but in the same way that 'Tarzan' isn’t just about a man in a loincloth..."