It’s somewhat apt that Taylor Kitsch is so hard for me to get a hold of as the Kelowna, British Columbia-born actor is likely enjoying his last few moments of relative privacy. Kitsch is in Japan doing press for John Carter, which releases on March 9th, and I’ve been on hold waiting to talk to him for what feels like an eternity. He has a modest-sized fan following from his days on Friday Night Lights, but it’s a far cry from what could be to come. See, John Carter is Disney’s foray into Avatar territory: a massively produced, otherworldly drama with high hopes and a $250 million budget. The film, directed by Pixar-alumni Andrew Stanton (WALL-E and Finding Nemo), has the ingredients to be one of the biggest movies of the year, and, along with the ’70s board game-influenced Battleship (May 18th) and Oliver Stone’s Savages (July 6th), it stands to propel Kitsch into massive stardom. I can only imagine how long it will take to get him on the phone, then.
Do you think we will ever form colonies on other planets, and do you think we might not be alone in the universe?
I think it’s a lot more fun to think that you can, rather than just shutting the idea down. I mean, you never know. Especially in the last couple months, we discovered another Earth, in a way—another planet that has our kind of atmosphere and temperature and so forth. So, you never know, but I think it’s more fun to believe it rather than just, ‘No,’ you know?
The Barsoom novels were published in 1910, what does it mean to be part of such a historic piece of fiction?
I think for me it’s hard to relate to anything like that. But Edgar Rice Burroughs was incredibly ahead of his time. What he’s dealing with warring races—the character, and how he deals with it, and the planet being in its dire straits is obviously relatable. I think that the biggest thing that I’m most proud of with John Carter is breathing life into [Director Andrew] Stanton’s dream. This is a guy who at eight years old lived for these books. Obviously, he’s fulfilling his dream doing the film. For me, to breathe life into that is a pretty great honor.
They’ve been trying to make John Carter since the ’30s, right?
Yeah. I mean there’s a lot of elements that come into play. Timing—that it can actually be done in a way to do it right, with the CG and the technology.
You played Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights. He has a cult following because of you. John Carter, the character, has a different kind of following, a built-in following. Do you think that John Carter will appeal more to fans of the original novels, or will it have more of a modern take?
I think it will be both. Stanton is such an incredible storyteller and he definitely did an ode to the book. There’s scenes in this movie that are directly from the book, so I think the people that are fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ work will definitely see that. And then the modern: I don’t think it’s any different. It truly is just a character piece. I just saw it last week, and it’s got an incredible heartbeat to it. The story is very intertwined, and people will love that. They’ll love the escapism and they’ll love the period piece, so it really truly takes you away from everything, and I love that part of it.
Yeah, totally, so Kelowna is were you grew up, and it’s kind of like Mars in that it’s cold. What’s the big difference in growing up in Kelowna and where you’re at now? Did you even, like, have sushi growing up?
I had an incredible upbringing. I was raised next to an apple orchard and I went outside everyday, and I think that’s the biggest difference from what I’ve seen now with our culture. I mean I’m not going to get on a tangent, but we’re quite lazy in my opinion. I loved being outdoors. It’s just helped, with that imagination and just being a kid, playing outside for six, seven hours a day. I had a frozen pond in my backyard, I played hockey every day, and then when we moved closer to Vancouver, I was basically living in the forest. It was my backyard. We would go and play war games. I rarely played video games.
Can you say ‘Barsoom’ in a Canadian accent?
What am I saying? ‘Broom’?
No, ‘Barsoom’! I have an Australian accent…
Yeah, I know. I can tell.
Cough, cough. Sorry, can you say ‘Barsoom’ with a Canadian accent.
Ohhh. ‘Barsoooom.’ Shit, there you go.
Pretty good. What was harder: acting against a green screen during the CGI moments of John Carter or pretending to get hit really hard during Friday Night Lights?
Um, I don’t think there’s much pretending in the FNL stuff, so I’ll take the green screen any day of the week.
Really? You were actually hit really hard?
Oh, sure. The guys you see in the football stuff, some are ex-NFLers, some are Arena Football players, and everyone had college experience. These guys were no joke.
But you played hockey. Were you familiar with football when you started FNL?
Yeah, I was very familiar with it. I mean, obviously when you’re playing it almost every day, you get better quick, but I feel I’m pretty athletic, so it wasn’t that crazy of a transition for me.
Did you get lots of bruises?
Oh, to say the least. Yeah, but it was fun. I love playing that part of Riggs when he was on the field.
I loved Tim Riggins. He was the best.
Good. I’ve been working, literally, six years straight without taking a break. I’m forced to take a break right now with press. With all these interviews, you’re forced to look back at what you’ve done or accomplished so far. I think with FNL shutting down, this is the first time really where I’ve felt the love of the show from the fans. Like really, where it’s like, man, they miss it. What Tim Riggins represented to certain people, it’s pretty cool.
You’ve lived in Texas since the show, right?
Yeah, I live in Austin. I’m building a home right now on the lake.
How come you decided to forego L.A. like so many of your colleagues?
I’m not a fan of Los Angeles. I like to stay out of the mix. It’s the best thing for me, personally. It keeps me creative, keeps me around people who don’t give a shit who you are. I think that’s very important especially with what we have coming up this year. None of my friends in Austin are actors. It can be quite refreshing. You go, any day of the week, to a music venue, and you are watching other people that are living for their work as well, and I love that—it’s great.
I’ve never been to Texas.
You got to go to Austin, I’m telling you. It’s probably the most infectious town that I’ve ever been to. People never want to leave when they go. It’s like no other city in Texas; it’s very liberal, it’s the self-proclaimed live music capital of the world. It’s got an incredible tone to it.