March 19, 2012 4:14pm PT by Todd Gilchrist
'Battleship' Director Pete Berg on 'John Carter' Star Taylor Kitsch: 'He's Got the Right Stuff'
In the wake of Disney’s announcement Monday that John Carter was in fact a commercial flop – to the tune of $200 million in losses – it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Universal Pictures was a little bit worried about having its star, Taylor Kitsch, at the helm of their upcoming scifi epic Battleship.
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But in an interview Saturday at WonderCon, Battleship director Pete Berg told The Hollywood Reporter that he thinks Kitsch is ready to command movies of such enormous scope, despite an established pedigree only on small screen. “I do,” Berg said, indicating that the advantage the young actor will have in Battleship is playing a role set in present day. “I think John Carter and Battleship are completely different films, and in John Carter, Taylor played someone from a different era, and in Battleship, he plays someone much more contemporary.”
Berg observed that his opinion is informed by years of collaboration with Kitsch on the acclaimed spinoff of his 2004 film Friday Night Lights. “I’ve known him for a long time, obviously through Tim Riggins and Friday Night Lights,” he said. “I’ve watched him grow up and I know what he does well, and where he needs some help, and I think any young actor needs help and needs to be brought up, like an athlete, at a correct level.” While Berg declined to offer an opinion about either Kitsch or John Carter, he suggested that his upcoming slate might be better-suited to the actor’s strengths.
“I think if Taylor finds the right roles and the right directors, like Oliver Stone and the Savages, that’s going to be a really good experience for him, Battleship’s going to be a great experience for him, and I think he’s got the right stuff.”
Berg also credited Kitsch’s appeal to the actor’s maturity and self-possession. “His head’s on straight, you know? He’s not a kid running around in night clubs, he’s not into drugs; he’s a healthy, smart, witty kid, and he’s not afraid to be self-deprecating. And all of those things I think add up to a kid who is in fact ready for it. Whether it happens or not, who knows? But he’s ready for it.”
Battleship sails into theaters nationwide on May 18, 2012.