Interview: Lynn Collins (2012) John Carter

Lynn Collins is probably the least known of the principals involved with John Carter but that doesn’t mean she had nerves about taking on the critical role of Dejah in the film. Collins’ character is actually the title character of the novel the movie is based on, Princess of Mars, and plays a critical role in the story, especially as the relationship develops between her character and Taylor Kitsch’s Carter.

“She doesn’t see herself as a sex object,” Collins said. “She is a Martian woman who kicks ass as much as the men do. She is equal.” While the costuming for Dejah is very revealing, Collins said it fits what was necessary for the character. “We wanted it to be not distracting and then, through John Carter, she starts discovering love maybe, sexuality, her own body as being something that could change.”

Something Collins, who also has extensive theater experience, didn’t have much experience with was the amount of green screen and wire stunt-work needed for the film, especially since she’d have to do a lot of it in elaborate makeup and costuming. “I did them by myself,” she said. “It’s when I’m falling and they raise me all the way up, all the way up, all the way up to the top of this building as far as they can get me to where literally I’m at the top of studio like this. And then just drop me as fast as I let them and I said drop it as fast as you can, just don’t make me the judge, just drop it. I got crazy by this point. They drop me and I was like, ‘Oh my God, now they’re going to keep doing this.’ My adrenaline was so high. It was like a drug surging through your body. It gets fun but if you know the fear factor, the fear energy, you have to mutate, you have to transform it. Like boxers, that white light of fighting, you have to flip it and make it work for you.”

The makeup also created its own special challenge, since Collins looks very different, in terms of skin tone, from Dejah. “The biggest reaction was the makeup artist Bill Corso, he was like, ‘You come in and you’re white and freckly,’ and my hair was dark at that point because it was my hair and he goes, ‘It’s like you leave and you’re a different human being.’”

Collins said she appreciated the efforts made by director Andrew Stanton and the writers of the film to create a very real character, someone she might have played on stage. “He wrote in a rhythm because that’s what I know. When I’m working emotionally, because of the way I was trained, heightened texts and emotion to me connect very quickly and easily. It just happens in my own life try to get me to cry, I can’t. It’s impossible. I also think that’s why I connected to it and why I kept going when it was hard is because of this scope of Greek tragedy, it is the extremes of Greek tragedy – the planet is dying.”

Collins also gets the opportunity to take advantage of some of the martial arts dreams she had in her youth during the film.“I spent my summers in Japan, where my parents were getting their fourth and fifth and sixth dawn in Shitaru, which is in Okinawa-style Karate. My father had a ton of samurai swords and I just remember playing with one of them, and they say that the soul of the samurai is in the sword, and I was like, ‘Wow, this would be amazing. This would be amazing to know how to move this, how to…work with this.’ So I had this sort of childhood thing that I was going to be a samurai warrior and then karate fizzled out because of acting and this is the first time that the two have married and it was really emotional at the beginning, really emotional.”

John Carter opens in theaters on March 9.