Over the course of his three decade career, Willem Dafoe has been a difficult actor to pinpoint, both as an indie darling, and equally at home in big budget fair like “Spider-Man” and this year’s Disney tentpole, “John Carter.” Dafoe portrays Martian Tars Tarkas in the latter, a long-awaited adaptation of the influential Edgar Rice Burroughs tales first penned in the late 1800s.
The Playlist spoke to Dafoe in Arizona last week during Disney’s lavish “John Carter” promotional event for press. Along with the subject at hand, we asked Dafoe about the planned sequels as well as his part in Stephen Sommers’ “Odd Thomas” and whether he’s still considering a role in Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac.”
With a budget reportedly somewhere in the $250 million range — though director Andrew Stanton has issues with those numbers — Disney has a lot riding on “John Carter,” which they hope will be the launch of a franchise. We asked Dafoe if he is signed on for the potential sequels. “I am,” Dafoe confirmed. “If it succeeds, there are potentially two or three of them and I know Andrew’s signed on, Taylor [Kitsch]’s signed on, Lynn [Collins’] signed on. So if it happens, I know it’s the same people and there’s only the hope that we can go deeper.”
Later this year the actor will star in Stephen Sommers’ “Odd Thomas,” a smaller film from the director best known for “The Mummy” and “G.I. Joe.” “I play Chief Porter, who has a really beautiful relationship with Odd,” says Dafoe. “He’s kind of like a father figure. Odd Thomas is played by Anton Yelchin, who I like very much. I think he’s really a talented, smart guy. I haven’t seen the movie yet, it was great fun to make. It’s a real hybrid and it’s a real personal movie. Stephen really broke his usual way of working and financed it and made it with a very personal stamp on it, so I’m eager to see it.”
Although it’s been about five months since The Playlist first reported that Dafoe had been offered a part in Von Trier’s artsy porn flick, “Nymphomaniac,” the actor admits he still doesn’t have an answer. “Lars spoke to me,” says Dafoe. “We sometimes are in touch. Right now there is nothing planned. He just mentioned it before and I like Lars very much, so I may be working with him. But hard to say and on what.”
“John Carter” opens in theaters nationwide March 9th, 2012. “Odd Thomas” is currently slated for a late 2012 release.