‘John Carter': ‘Friday Night’ scored Taylor Kitsch a trip to Mars

March 07, 2012 | 5:28 p.m.

Andrew Stanton has spent almost five years of his filmmaking career in the orbit of John Carter’s Mars, but even in the decade before that he was pondering the Red Planet’s cinematic possibilities — and the question of which actor could swing the hero’s sword in a feature film adaptation.

The Hero Complex IMAX Screening Series brought Stanton and his new film, “John Carter,” to Burbank for a free, early screening of the Disney fantasy epic, and in the Q&A after the movie the director explained that, as a devoted fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character John Carter, he followed every twist and turn of the property’s convoluted path to the screen, even when it was Robert Rodriguez or Jon Favreau listed as director.

In the video above, Stanton also said he locked in on Taylor Kitsch as a leading-man candidate all the way back in 2006 while watching the pilot for “Friday Night Lights.”  On that show, the Canadian actor became a fan favorite as high school bad boy Tim Riggins, a running back who wears No. 33 for the Dillon Panthers and raises Cain in a rural stretch of dusty Texas.

In Stanton’s off-planet tale, Kitsch is a world-weary Civil War veteran who finds himself transported to distant Mars, where treachery and a mysterious energy weapon threaten the entire world. As he travels the alien landscape, he meets friends and foes – Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), Tal Hajus (Thomas Haden Church) and Matai Shang (Mark Strong).

This is the third installment of our conversation with Stanton; the first installment touched on his passion for the Marvel Comics version of  Barsoom mythology, and the second has the filmmaker’s thoughts on the Burroughs connection to readers both past and future.

– Geoff Boucher

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