Like most of her John Carter co-stars, Oscar-nominee Samantha Morton (In America) has been in blockbuster films, but she’s never had to do motion capture up until this movie. Also, since she plays a Thark, she also never had to walk on stilts until John Carter. Morton plays Sola, a pariah of the war-loving Thark society due to her caring and nurturing attitude, and she’s given the task of helping John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) acclimate to life among the Tharks.
Morton was a bit reluctant to talk about her character since she’s used to talking more about the film after it’s finished rather than during production. It’s a position I absolutely respect, and I’m glad she was at least willing to comment on how working with director Andrew Stanton compared to working with Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York) and Steven Spielberg (Minority Report), adapting a classic piece of literature (John Carter is based off Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ A Princess of Mars), and a bit more. Hit the jump for the interview. John Carter opens in 3D on March 9th.
Question: How easy is it for your performance to get past the look of everyone on-set?
SAMANTHA MORTON: I think that with every performance I do and every part I do, there’s either someone in a wig or a complicated costume. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s set in the 17th century or in the future, like in “Minority Report”. It’s really the same.
What about walking on stilts? How does that change your performance?
MORTON: I don’t want to talk about that.
So what are you thinking of the shoot so far?
MORTON: I’m a bit tired today because of jet lag.
How long have you been shooting?
MORTON: We started in London on the 18th of January, but it was longer for us with rehearsals and stuff. It’s going incredibly well. I’m blissed out. It’s the best locations and feels incredibly old school with the filmmaking even though it’s something I don’t have a concept, really, with all the technology. But it feels incredibly real and old-fashioned.
MORTON: Because despite the technology, he’s keeping it very real with the story and the acting.
Are you changing your voice much for the part?
MORTON: I’m not telling you! That’s the thing is, I never usually do press before a film comes out but, I think because of the scale of this we’re talking to you and stuff. It’s going to be exciting, that’s all I can say. Sometimes I play someone from Scotland. Sometimes I play an American. I play people from Poland. All over.
What was your familiarity with the books before going in?
MORTON: I knew of the books, but I hadn’t read the books. I knew because of “Tarzan”. I was really exciting to realize that we’re making a classic in the same way that someone might say, “You’re making ‘Jane Eyre’. You’re doing Charlotte Bronte.” I think that should be really something that really gets shouted about. We’re making a classic from a piece of literature. Not many people can say that when they’re making something like this. I feel very privileged to be part of a classic. The same way as when I played Jane Eyre.
What’s the difference between working with Andrew and working with somebody like Steven Spielberg or Charlie Kaufman?
MORTON: Well, Charlie was a first time director. He worked before in theater. Andrew’s not a first timer, though. He doesn’t feel like a first timer at all. He’s an incredible director. He’s incredibly humble and kind and sensitive. In a way, it feels very similar because Steven Spielberg is like that. You feel like every day on that set, you’re welcomed. You’re needed and important. He makes everybody feel like that. He’s just a really wonderful person, which is really nice.
You’re so secretive about the role.
MORTON: I don’t know about secretive. I just take it very seriously. I see that this is great, that we’re talking to you. But I’m so excited to be part of this film and it’s more important to me than anything else. It’s very precious to me. My character is very precious. I approach it the same way I’d approach any other movie, so I’m sorry if I seem a bit odd. I’m normally used to talking to press in Cannes where the movie has already been shown.
Do you know what you’re doing next?
MORTON: Yeah, I’m signed to do a couple of independent European pictures. One is called “Alive Alone”, which is about suicide bombings and troubles in London. But I don’t know if they’ve got the money yet for that one. Keep it a bit quiet. Another thing is my directing. I’ll be going into pre-production on a couple of films that I want to direct because “The Unloved” did so well. I’ll be going behind the camera.
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