John Carter Set Visit Interviews:

Interview with Thomas Haden Church

Can you talk about what you’re role is in the movie and in this scene?

Church: Well, I don’t know how much you know, but we’re part of a warring tribe on Mars. There are different factions…I have to keep it on the down low as far as information. Willem and Samantha [Morton] and myself and Polly Walker, we’re all members of the same tribe. Then Taylor, as you can tell, is a dude. [laughs] An Earth dude. And then Lynn [Collins], if you’ve seen her, her appearance is a lot different than ours.

On a technical level, how does this compare to Spider-Man, for example?

Church: It’s a completely different concept because this is all motion capture. Everything we do. Now, the whole world is apprised of how it works because of Avatar, but you just act everything out. For the most part, our physicality is captured by the cameras and then all of our facial maneuverings and manipulations are caught by the headset cam. There are two of them. It’s a different process because, on Spider-Man, so little of it, so little of the animation was available to me as a physical actor, whereas this, you’re completely embedded in it. My whole body and my head and
everything is going to be in motion capture with an infusion of my body and, as I already said, my physicality and expressions and emotions of it.

Do you have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to look like, in your head?

Church: You guys have seen the concept art, right? That’s what they’re going to look like. They’re giants, but they have their own, for lack of a better word, they have their own humanity, a tribal humanity and a social order. That’s a pretty good representation of the way they’re going to look.

Can you talk a little more about your character?

Church: Willem is the leader of the tribe. My guy is sort of his pit bull guard dog. He’s very aggressive when it comes to violence and fighting. He’s probably a little bit too aggressive because Willem is trying to lead by example, his character. There’s, at times, a little friction.

Do you get to do any fighting in the film?

Church: I do.

Do you have to do that on stilts? How is that handled?

Church: A lot of it is going to be…again, as I was saying, it’s all melded. We rehearsed fighting. We had a stunt camp in January in England and we rehearsed fighting on the stilts. I prefer being on the stilts, I think Willem does too because it’s just become the character to me, to be 8’7’’ and still independently mobile. I spend a lot of time rehearsing on them by myself at the ranch where I live in Texas. They sent me stilts probably in November and I just started like a baby, just started getting up on them and moving around and getting better and better and better. Then at the stunt camp in
January, I had a greater awareness of what was going to be expected as far as manipulating and movements, that sort of thing. I still can’t run. It’s disappointing because I thought I would get to where I’d be able to move with the facility of my normal kind of stature. It’s really difficult.

Can Willem run in them?

Church: I don’t know. I haven’t seen him run in them. I’m assuming the stunt guys are really good in them. They also use, I think they’re called “leaping stilts” where it’s a completely different
energy. “Powerisers.” It’s completely different. They can run in them, they can do layout flips.

With all the stilts and the motion capture and the facial recognition, was this more challenging than a normal live-action production or less so? Does it free you up?

Church: That’s a good question. Probably a little of both, because you’re always aware that, especially with the helmet, the mo-cap helmet on, you’re always aware that it’s there. The camera’s right there with the lights. I know that it’s going to take it to another kind of level of menace and vitality that’s going to be in Andrew [Stanton]’s domain. And the production team, it’s not just him. There are literally hundreds of people working on this project.

John Carter Set Visit Interviews:

Continue Reading John Carter Set Visit Interviews >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: