Willem Dafoe goes to ‘Mars’
Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on July 16, 2009
By Borys Kit – Hollywood Reporter
Willem Dafoe is on his way to Mars.
The actor has joined Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in “John Carter of Mars,” Disney’s adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series that Andrew Stanton is directing.
In the story of a Civil War soldier transported to the red planet where warring races vie for control, Dafoe will play Tars Tarkas, a leader of the Thark race who knows that the only way his people can survive is if they turn away from war, a position that may cost him dearly.
Stanton wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrews. Jim Morris and Colin Wilson are producing “Carter,” which is eyeing a start in early 2010.
Brigham Taylor is overseeing for the studio.
Dafoe, repped by WME, recently wrapped “Cirque du Freak,” an adaptation of Darren Shan’s young adult book series, and vampire thriller “Daybreakers.”
In 2004 – when the project was still known as “A Princess of Mars” after the book on which it’s based – Robert Rodriguez had originally been signed and announced as director and had begun pre-production early that year (it would have been his largest project to date with starting budget reported at $100 million). Rodriguez’ most notable contribution was to hire fantasy painter Frank Frazetta (whose most acclaimed works have included striking illustrations of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, most notably the “John Carter on Mars” books) as production designer on the film. However, when Rodriguez resigned from the Directors’ Guild of America (DGA) the same year (due to a dispute over his film Sin City), Paramount was forced to replace him. The studio has a long-standing arrangement with the DGA in which only the organization’s members may direct Paramount films. He was replaced with director Kerry Conran, who had just finished Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. In 2005, Conran left the project and was replaced by Jon Favreau just before the release of Favreau’s movie Zathura: A Space Adventure.
“A Princess of Mars” was originally published as “Under the Moons of Mars” by Norman Bean (Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pseudonym) in The All-Story (six pulp magazine issues February – July, 1912). Burroughs was originally afraid that he might be ridiculed for writing such a tale, so he decided to use a pen name. The pseudonym was supposed to be a pun “Normal Bean” (as in “I’m a normal bean”) to reassure people, but the man who typeset the text thought it was a mistake, so he changed it to “Norman”.
Jon Favreau was on-board to direct John Carter of Mars until around August 2006. At this time Paramount chose not to renew the film rights, preferring to focus on Star Trek, while Favreau left to work on Iron Man. In January 2007 Disney regained the rights (they had rights to film the story previously: in the 1980s with director ‘John McTiernan)’, and enlisted ‘Andrew Stanton’ from Pixar to direct.