We caught up with Dafoe doing press for his next film Daybreakers, and squeezed in a few roundtable questions on Disneys giant fantasy undertaking, adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Cater Of Mars
What was the appeal in doing John Carter of Mars?
Andrew Stanton, the material, the idea that I'm going to play a 10-foot Martian Warrior. I live very much in the independent cinema world, which is great and that's where we find a lot of great filmmakers and sometimes more freedom to make personal films. But the flip side of that is, sometimes there isn't a lot of protection or care. There may be an emotional rigor, but sometimes you don't have the the technical stuff to work with. You can have lousy lighting [and] no time to prepare properly. You are very vulnerable.
When someone asks you to make a movie directed by Andrew Stanton, with Disney behind, a big tent-pole movie... I know from making Finding Nemo how these Pixar guys work. They're very thorough , they're very rigorous, they really get it. It's a real pleasure because you get so protected because they are so well researched. And you get so much help trying to make something. I think I got excited about that. I like to go back and forth, but it was time to do a big movie again.
Have you read the book?
I haven't but I'd read Princess of Mars, and I'll probably read some of the others.
Has Andrew talked to you about how they are going to film [your character's] four arms?
I saw him recently because we start in London, for studio stuff. I start next week... He showed me some samples, just so I can understand what I'm in for. Mostly about ideas about how they are going to film these creatures next to human beings. Because we do play the scenes, it's not like some people's fantasies where they put you in a room and they sample you and they go off and they do this computer magic, and no one ever plays a scene — it's not like that. We're going to play these scenes. He showed me the different variations of how they will shoot it, the kind of equipment I'll have to wear, the different times I won't have to wear certain kinds of equipment and all that.
Are you going to have to wear two extra prosthetic arms?
I'm not telling. And you know what, I can't talk that much about it, because I don't know yet. We don't even start shooting next week it's part of prep, I go to London and we do the things that we need to do to know how to start this project... I think officially production starts the 18th.
Will you be working on a special voice for the character?
We're always working on a special voice.