Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from our larger interview (up later today) with Green Lantern's Mark Strong, focusing specifically on Disney's upcoming John Carter, a topic that's been on many fans' minds lately due to the title change (it was previously titled John Carter of Mars) and first poster for the Andrew Stanton-directed film about a Civil War soldier who awakes on an alien planet.
Movies.com: You seemed to move pretty quickly from [Green Lantern] to John Carter, where you play a villain, but one who’s more ethereal.
Strong: Yeah, I’ve sort of refined that. If Sinestro is physical, Matai Shang is spiritual, mental.
Movies.com: How quickly did you move from one to the other, and how tough was it to shift from one character to the next?
Strong: Well funnily enough, when you do things like that at the same time, they inform each other and also, it’s very useful because you’re playing so against the other one. In this instance, they are so different, it was great. Because I could literally play Sinestro against Matai Shang, if you like, and remind myself that he is really all about action and physicality. And Matai Shang, by the same token, is the opposite. Very knowing, very, as you say, ethereal, a very Zen-like character of the mind, rather than of the body. And it was useful actually, because although they’re both aliens and so they’re similar in that respect, their characters are so totally opposite ends of the spectrum. And I enjoyed playing them around a similar time.
Interestingly, John Carter’s had its titled changed. And there seems to be some kind of confusion as to why this should be, and I think the reason is brilliant. The reason is that he has to earn that title. Again, it’s a franchise or a number of books; a series of books that people may or may not know, but if you call him John Carter of Mars, I think at the very beginning, all the work’s been done and what Andrew wants to do, I think, is introduce people to this first film, and by the end of it, he becomes John Carter of Mars, but not at the beginning. In the beginning he’s John Carter, but by the end of the first film, he’s John Carter of Mars; so he’s earned that title to take it off should it want to go to further storytelling.
Movies.com: How successful do you feel like Andrew Stanton made that transition from animated filmmaking to live-action? And how did his past experiences impact your collaboration?
Strong: He was no different to any other film director. I mean, you’re in charge, you have to answer all the questions and you have to have the idea in your head. He definitely had all of that and more. His enthusiasm was what was really infectious. And your knowledge that he’s such a great storyteller was a very comforting thing to have during shooting. I mean, I don’t know how much collaboration he’s done on you know, subsequent [projects]. But I thought he was absolutely at the top of his game and he knew exactly what he was doing.