Willem Dafoe is the latest actor to join Andew Stanton’s big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ John Carter of Mars. Dafoe will play the role of Tars Tarkas, a brutal and mirthless green Martian warrior, who possesses the ability to feel love and empathy, an unusual characteristic among his savage race. The newly arrived Earth man John Carter develops an alliance with Tarkas after learning his secret. The film is expected to be the first of a possible trilogy, and considering Tarkas fights alongside Carter through the entire series of books, Dafoe likely signed on or has options for sequels.
Dafoe joins Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, True Blood) and Taylor Kitsch (Wolverine, Friday Night Lights) in the Walt Disney Pictures production. Still no mention of Thomas Haden Church who last month revealed publicly that he had signed on to the film for a “very dramatic role.” Is it possible that things didn’t work out in the contract negotiation stage and Dafoe took the part instead? Or is Church playing one of the other Martians in the film?
A Princess of Mars was first published in 1917. The movie will follow Civil War vet John Carter (Kitsch), who is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris (Collins), Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a savior.
Stanton wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon also did a draft.Last we heard,John Carter is gearing up for a November shoot in Utah. Disney is aiming for a 2011 release.