Lynn Collins Interview For ‘John Carter’
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton (WALLE, Finding Nemo) comes ‘John Carter’ – a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). ‘John Carter’ is based on the classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, ‘John Carter of Mars,’ whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands. Out in cinemas now, ‘John Carter’ also stars the likes of Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Willem Dafoe, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Dominic West, and Thomas Hayden Church.
Can you tell us a little bit about your Dejah Thoris, and how you found the physical challenges of the role? I can imagine the physical side of things helping you get into this kick-ass, yet fully realised character.
Lynn Collins: Definitely. Dejah Thoris, she’s the regent of science and letters on Helium, which is sort of the peaceful city on Mars. Dejah is also the Princess of Helium. There’s a lot of fighting and a lot of wirework, and I actually had a terrible fear of heights, but that was completely dashed by this movie, because Taylor’s character, John Carter, he has a lot of jumping, and a lot of these jumps involve him holding me (laughs). So inadvertently I was being flung everywhere! It’s hard work, but it’s so great to have a director that you can trust in Andrew Stanton, that the hard work you put in, you know it was gonna pay off. I’ve got sword-fighting scenes, I’m a trained martial artist, both of my parents were both martial artists so I came into ’John Carter’ with a little extra oomph.
With the training, my body changed and my mind started to change. It’s almost impossible to play strength, you are just strong. And it’s almost impossible to play brave, you are just brave. The physical regime for ‘John Carter’ was very intense. They put me on this boxing regime, and with that came the attitude that I needed to portray Dejah. It definitely helped me, embodying feminine strength in such a way that your masculinity is also tapped into. It’s the marriage of masculine and feminine, but also with that strength is vulnerability. I’m sure the training and diet informed the fighting, but I also had to learn how to control that in myself. So, a lot of meditative things came out of it and a lot of spiritual aspects came out of playing this role as well.
Then I can imagine the make-up and wardrobe, which was stunning, aiding the role as well. Did that create any challenges for you though?
Lynn Collins: The make-up, with the spray tanning on the weekends, I was like, “God, this stuff stinks!” (Laughs). It was challenging but necessary, the time that it took, which was 3 and a half hours to 5 or 6 hours, that time of putting all of that on, it really gave me the time to get centred, to really get grounded, to really get ready. In that respect it wasn’t so much of a challenge, it was more of an aid. All of that, the make-up, the costume, the physical work, it all added to what I was doing mentally and spiritually.
How did you find acting against the CGI and motion-capture?
Lynn Collins: It was difficult with Willem Dafoe because I was obsessed with him for most of my acting career (laughs). I think that he’s incredible, and then to have met him and to know that he’s such an amazing person, it made me even more obsessed (laughs). So when I would have to look up or look down, anywhere other than where his face was, it was often, “Cut! Lynn, you can’t look at Willem’s face.” Then next take, “Cut! Lynn, you have to look at the other head, not Willem’s head,” (Laughs).
Speaking to the other members of the cast, they’ve all commented on how much of an enjoyable experience making ‘John Carter’ was, and how you worked so well together….
Lynn Collins: Oh yeah, this cast was so much fun, from Taylor Kitsch, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds, Polly Walker. The fact that the director, Andrew Stanton, had a specific language and dialogue with each actor, we were all getting the juice we needed. So there was no excess negativity because Andrew had created this safety net with us. It was an incredible working experience. Specifically with Taylor, we’re good friends and we’ve known each other for a long tine, so it was so fun to have all this history to use and create this chemistry between these two beings. It was incredibly fun.
The visuals are fantastic. How was it for you watching the final project, and what thematically appealed to you about ‘John Carter’?
Lynn Collins: The offices were just full of pictures and images. And the sort of trajectory of the story, everything, everything was very clearly laid out for us in a way so that we were able to visualise as much as possible. It’s just so great to see it all come together, from all the concept art we saw, the sets, the costumes, it’s really great to see it come together.
Thematically, ‘John Carter’ is incredibly contemporary, which is one of the reasons I was so attracted to the material. Hopefully the audience will come out of the cinema not only having had the riot of their life, and falling in love with the characters. But their going to leave the cinema thinking about their own actions, and our actions societally as a whole and how we treat the planet.
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