casDave Davis brought you the good news earlier this week – Jon Favreau has taken over directorial duties on the John Carter of Mars film. While I am sad to see Kerry Conran go (I liked Sky Captain a bunch, and was looking forward to seeing him bring a pulpy cosmos to life again), Favreau is such a good choice I can’t help but be psyched. I had a chance to interview Favreau at Comic Con this year (where it was revealed that he knows CHUD and follows the Fetal Film page!) and he was pretty excited to talk about his love for practical effects, and how he relied on them for his new film Zathura.

Now he’s given Quint from Aint It Cool a really great, very in-depth interview about John Carter, and he’s still talking practical as much as possible:

JON FAVREAU: The other big challenge is the Tharks. How do you create a cast of characters that is an alien race that…

QUINT: That doesn’t just look like a man in a suit?

JON FAVREAU: That doesn’t look like… on one side a guy in a suit…

QUINT: Or a big CGI blob…

JON FAVREAU: Yeah, you got the two choices. You have sort of the BATTLEFIELD EARTH route to go, where you take a human and make them as different as you can size-wise and physically, which I don’t think you totally buy, or you go the Gollum route, which is very expensive and ultimately I think that if you had 6 Gollums talking to each other I don’t know that you could differentiate them that well, although it worked very well for one. Also, performances suffer.

What I would like to do is find a way to base it around performers so that I could actually cast people as Tharks and not just their voices to be behind CG puppets. That being said, I have to see what the state of the art CG does right now, but my sense is that it’s a mixture of practical with some sort of CG augmentation to help sell how they’re different from people. I don’t to just put big shoes on them and rubber arms.

That’s going to be the challenge, in doing a lot of research. I think that PLANET OF THE APES, the first one, even though the make-up was sort of restrictive of the movement of the faces and I wouldn’t want to go completely down that route, I did feel that you were able to differentiate the apes. You knew it was Roddy McDowell in there and it was a wonderful performance and there was emotion involved.

I was talking to one of the people who previously worked on this movie in the art department and we were talking about Boris Karloff’s performance in FRANKENSTEIN. His face was Boris Karloff and his performance, but it was augmented and built upon with prosthetics. Pretty extensive low-tech prosthetics. It was pre-Latex. I mean, it was like a terrible process and the stuff would melt, but somehow it didn’t interfere with the performance. There has to be a digital equivalent of that now.

I think the biggest challenge is to humanize the Tharks and that speaks to how you would write the story and how much you’d have to thin out those characters for the sake of being cinematic.

That’s just a tiny bit of the very lengthy interview Quint has with the man, which you must read by clicking here. It’s going to make every single one of you a believer in this project.