'John Carter': Lynn Collins on female warriors, actor slapping

john-carter-lynn-collins.jpgActress Lynn Collins plays Princess Dejah Thoris in the new film "John Carter" which opens Friday, March 8. Technically, she is the newest Disney princess! We spoke to Collins about the film, being a warrior woman and scary wire work.

Collins started as a theater actress and that larger than life personality lends itself well to the film. The poor woman is covered in tattoos that took hours to apply. She told us about the audition process. "I slapped the actors I was acting opposite. Really hard," she laughs. "We got applause at the end of the audition!"

Collins said that director Andrew Stanton told her that her character is not a sex object. "She's a Martian woman who kicks serious butt. She's smart, she's equal ... John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) falls in love with her because of her strength." She said

She talks about the wire work she had to do. "It's when I'm falling and they raise me all the way up, oh, what's that?  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 - you know it's a drug surging through your body and so I was like ugh I don't know if I should do another one because I'm already so shaking.  I did like six then I was just like let's do it on the other side.  So we flipped over, changed the costume and did like a couple of them.  It gets fun but it 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 know you have to flip it and make it work for you.  Not in your face against you. Hard to do.  So hard to do and its like begging in a ring when you're doing, when you're confronting things like that it is a fight, I think."

She speaks about how her theater background helped her. "Andrew ...  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 which is interesting because of the accent too I go - like it just happens in my own life try to get me to cry I can't ugh it's impossible.  I also think that 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.  We have to save the planet, the father, you know all of that.  So a lot of my theater training went into this for sure.  I think also the physical work that I had to do, at Julliard, they're incredibly physical, I had many different types of physical training and that really helped to do something even like working with the train or even how to hold in your center when you're on these wires.  You know because sometimes people have to be taught that you have to sort of know that in a different way."

Her theater background wasn't the only thing that helped out with the role. She's also done martial arts. "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 and my father had a ton of samurai swords and I just remember playing with one of them and they say that your soul is in the - 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 you know 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.  Um, hard to bring it up and the memories of it and the child, it's like it was a childlike feeling to turn that into something forceful, feminine and adult and not hurt people was a real challenge but you know what once you do it?  Once that stuff is married it's there.  It's completely a part of me now."

"John Carter" will be preceded by ... take a deep breath now ... the trailer for "Marvel's The Avengers!"
Photo/Video credit: Disney