Taylor Kitsch, until now best known for the TV series “Friday Night Lights,” is well aware that a lot is riding on 2012 for him, careerwise. With lead roles in a pair of presumed blockbusters — this month’s “John Carter” followed by “Battleship” in May — and Oliver Stone’s “Savages” later this year, Kitsch is set to have his status in Hollywood solidified one way or the other. His biggest risk comes first. “John Carter,” based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, follows a Civil War hero transported to Mars, where he leads a rebellion. It reportedly cost more than $200 million. No pressure, Taylor …
Your face basically is the marketing campaign for “John Carter.”
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that is something you never, ever get used to. I think it really is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of year for me coming up with these three films. It’s insane. I think it’s also a cool moment just to have within yourself, like it’s really come full circle for the most part through the struggle or whatever it was to get to this point.
Being the title character in a potential franchise, how is it to watch the marketing campaign at work and have no control over it?
I think you just nailed it, I don’t have control over it. I mean, I’m so on the inside — obviously, being him — but there’s things, yeah, that I would love to have seen different. There’s also things that they’ve done that have opened my eyes to it in a different way. So, I mean, I really don’t have power [over] it at the end of the day.
The film has gotten bad publicity because of the poor marketing. If you were in charge of
marketing the movie, what would you do?
You’re going to kill me, man. [Laughs] Um, the actor in me would go a lot darker. The earlier stuff, I loved, and I would love to see a bit of that John Carter as well — the more dramatic stuff, the Civil War John Carter. You don’t see literally any, really — him on a horse, maybe, or him waking up from Mars with the beard, maybe. I think maybe I’d put a bit more of that in there. It just grounds it more, you know what I mean? Rather than people trying to really decipher Mars and this and that and really break it down.
There’s a lot of you on display in this film. Did you ever wish that he’d discover a shirt or a pair of pants somewhere on Mars?
I loved the Civil War Carter, put it that way. [Laughs] It’s ... exposed, to say the least.
Taylor Kitsch made a leap into big-budget franchises by playing Gambit in 2009’s “Wolverine.” With Gambit being one of the most popular characters, there was naturally talk before the film’s release of jumping into a Gambit spin-off film. After the release, not so much. So what happened? “I think it was just really s— in the sense of it being put out there before it was ready,” Kitsch says. “I don’t know if they ever came back from that kind of buzz.”