Actor to star in Disney fantasy pic

Willem Dafoe will star alongside Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in “John Carter of Mars,” the Walt Disney Pictures fantasy epic to be directed by “Wall-E” helmer Andrew Stanton.

Dafoe will play the role of Tars Tarkas, a fierce green Martian warrior, who’s unusual among his savage race for his ability to love. Tars develops an alliance with John Carter in the first film, which is based on “A Princess of Mars.”

He fights battles alongside Carter through the entire series of Edgar Rice Burroughs books, so he will be hanging around for sequels.

Kitsch, who’s coming off “The Bang Bang Club” and the TV series “Friday Night Lights,” was set in June to play the title character, a damaged Civil War vet who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. Collins, who acted alongside Kitsch in “Wolverine,” will play the Princess of Mars.

Jim Morris and Colin Wilson are producing. Stanton wrote the script with Mark Andrews.

Dafoe is repped by WME and D/F Management.

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