2012 will see Vancouver-born actor Tayler Kitsch’s career race to palm-sweating heights. Set to star in two nuclear-sized auditorium fillers Battleship and Oliver Stone directed noir Savages this summer, today sees the UK premiere of his newest epic, John Carter. We spoke to the thirty year old Friday Night Lights star – sitting pretty on the cover of Men’s Health’s April issue – about his unprecedented rise.
John Carter is based on a character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novel series. What kind of research did you do for the role?
Um, I was never a comic book guy. I was always outside. I grew up in a small town, literally with a frozen pond in the back yard and the forest was my playground. I think that way imagination was always going wild. I’m hoping my kids will have the same thing, I definitely won’t put them in front of a TV screen. I just don’t think it is a good thing for kids to use TV as a babysitter. I still love being outside.
How did you find working with co-star Lynn Collins, herself a prominent emerging actor?
Ah I’m a big fan, I’m a huge fan. I think the best compliment you can give an actor is that you think they’re going to be around for a long time and she’s the real deal – she’s good to go.
And (again, Carter co-star) Willem Dafoe?
Oh, huge fan. There were definite moments on set that were just like “Oh that’s why he’s Willem Dafoe.” Off camera, he was there early, incredibly prepared and very driven and he gives you that energy.
He wore these pyjama-esque costume onset, right? Did you spend a lot of energy trying not to laugh on set?
In between takes you had moments for sure. I mean, I was in leather and a glorified skirt and boots for most of the shoot. So I think you can jab at one another for sure. But when the cameras start rolling, you learn to escape.
Yours and Willem’s characters have both experienced loss. Is that something you developed your onscreen relationship on?
Ah, I think it was kind of unspoken. It was very a supportive thing in one another that just played out very well. It’s one thing to be actor that’s just like “how do I play this scene?” and another to be like “how are we gonna make this scene look good?” And that’s the beauty of Willem – he’s the latter. Believe me, you work with actors that are just worried about how they’re gonna come out, and that’s not fun to work with and it’s not true to the story, either. It was a lot of fun – heart is really at the core of John Carter, so we both had a lot to dive into.
How do you feel about a potential sequel?
I want a nap before I do it [laughs]. But I hope so, I think it would be a crime not to explore it again.
You have quite a few films coming out soon, too.
Battleship and er…
So small projects, then.
Yeah, subtle independents [laughs].
And we’ve got Oliver Stone’s Savages after that. Buckle up for that one, truly.
What was the scale of that, then?
Enormous, it’s enormous. It really is the kind of pinnacle summer blockbuster, it’s huge. I play Alex Hopper, a guy who’s basically afraid of his own potential, afraid of failing so he doesn’t engage until his brother enrolls him in the Navy and through attrition becomes a leader and saves the world.
So you spent all of this film getting dusty and all that one getting wet… How did it come to pass that the films would all get a 2012 release date?
It’s so out of my control. The best aspect is that the roles are so incredibly different. Between them, they’re not recognisable guys. I love to see John Carter up against Sean, the guy I play in Savages – I don’t think you’ll recognise them. I’m very conscious of that – I’ll never work for the sake of working. I just like roles that I can dive into. I love working with the best and I hope to keep doing it. Hopefully you guys will never be able to pigeonhole me.
Do you live in LA?
I live in Austin, Texas. I’m building a home on the lake right now. That’s where I’ll live for a long time.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town outside Vancouver, Canada. Then I moved to Austin, Texas to do a show called Friday Night Lights. That kind of exposed me to Austin and from there I just didn’t want to leave. I’m never there ironically, because of work. In 2010 I worked 50 weeks. I think I was in Austin for three weeks that year. I think I’ve proved that I don’t need to move there. I definitely don’t play the game.
John Carter is in cinemas now.
Words: Jack Mills