John Carter is an enormous movie with a sprawling cast, ranging from relative newcomers like Taylor Kitsch in the title role to respected veterans like Ciaran Hinds and Mark Strong. But among all those people, Lynn Collins was one of the few women, and certainly the only one to show off her swordfighting skills, lead a battle, and fall in love with a hunky visitor from the planet Earth. As Dejah Thoris, the princess forcibly engaged to the evil Sab Than (Dominic West) in hopes of saving her planet, Collins plays a heroine who's both old-fashioned-- beautiful and often decked out in gorgeous, revealing clothes-- and very modern in her self-reliance and initial reluctance to fall for John Carter.

Collins knew Kitsch already before they went in for old-fashioned screen tests to get their respective parts-- director Andrew Stanton brought in seven actors and actresses all in one day, and Collins said the hardest part of the process was "handing the tiara to the other girl." In my interview with her below, I ask her why her pre-existing relationship with Kitsch mattered for building the characters. We also talk about how he encouraged her through the physical challenges of doing wirework in the film; Collins' parents are both karate experts, which gave her a lot of physical skill, but she said the challenge of John Carter was to translate that strength into something "forceful, feminine and adult." We also talked, of course, about the challenges of being the one girl on set-- and how her swordfighting skills changed the way everyone treated her, for the better. Check out our quick conversation below, and come back throughout the week for more interviews with the cast of John Carter and its director, Andrew Stanton. The movie opens in theaters this Friday.

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