LOS ANGELES — Taylor Kitsch struck out twice this year in the failed films ‘‘John Carter’’ and ‘‘Battleship,’’ spoiling the ‘‘Friday Night Lights’’ actor’s hopes to leap from TV to big-screen star.
Now Kitsch has a third time at bat with Oliver Stone’s drug-war thriller, ‘‘Savages,’’ opening Friday.
While the actor regrets that the two previous movies flopped, he’s actually a bit relieved that he can take jobs as they come without having to work around sequel schedules had those films developed into franchises.
‘‘Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that it died, and I’m not tied to these things for the next 10 years,’’ said Kitsch, 31. Still, Kitsch started the year with the prospect of two studio blockbusters that could have given him steady work for years to come.
With a bloated budget and fan indifference that resulted in feeble domestic box office of just $73 million, ‘‘John Carter’’ inflicted a $200 million loss on distributor Disney and helped precipitate the departure of the studio’s chairman, Rich Ross.
Universal’s ‘‘Battleship’’ did fair business overseas ahead of its domestic debut, but it floundered at US theaters in the wake of the blockbuster receipts hauled in by ‘‘The Avengers.’’
Yet Kitsch doesn’t regard the films as wasted efforts. ‘‘I feel I grew an immense amount as an actor. On so many levels, it tested me. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t take any of those choices back,’’ Kitsch said. ‘‘It was hard on me that they didn’t work. You have bosses, we all have bosses, you want to do well for them. But I gave everything I had.’’
Adapted from the novel by Don Winslow, ‘‘Savages’’ features Kitsch as a take-no-prisoners US veteran of the war on terror, who partners with his best pal (Aaron Johnson) to run a Southern California marijuana business. Kitsch and Johnson’s characters are hurled into a bloody battle with a drug cartel in ‘‘Savages,’’ whose cast includes Blake Lively, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Benicio Del Toro.
Kitsch grew up in British Columbia and got his start in Hollywood in such movies as ‘‘Snakes on a Plane’’ and ‘‘John Tucker Must Die’’ before landing a starring role on ‘‘Friday Night Lights.’’
Despite the flops, Kitsch figures he built work relationships that might lead to roles throughout his career.
‘‘I know personally, and this is the main thing to me that matters most, you talk to anybody I’ve ever worked with, ever. They will say that I’m probably the hardest-working actor you’ve watched in preparation, in drive, in what I put into it,’’ Kitsch said. ‘‘I think at the end of the day, that’s what matters. If you and I work together, and I go, ‘Yeah, I’ll go to war with you again,’ I think that’s the ultimate compliment you can give anyone.’’