I have to confess that I don't think I could have picked Channing Tatum out of a line-up before meeting him on the set of Dear John. I knew vaguely that he was one of those incredibly buff Ambercrombie Models, I knew he danced, and knew he was going to be in G.I. Joe, but I didn't have a very precise image of him. As I disembarked from our car, he galloped past me, and I didn't recognize him right away. Shocking!
I think everyone has an image of what they think Tatum must be like. I'm happy to say that you're wrong. For one thing, he's charismatic in a way that I don't think has come across onscreen yet. I hope Dear John changes that for him. In person, he's incredibly warm, friendly, and sweet and no one could stop singing his praises. As you can guess, actors run the gauntlet as far as approachability goes, but there wasn't a smack of phony affability in Tatum. He even gave us all a hug after our interview -- and no, none of us asked -- which is not something actors really do. Come on, I don't want to hug 99% of the people I meet in a professional day. And yes, girls, you can feel every muscle.
Here's our Q&A with Tatum, which Cinematical participated in with UGO and Coming Soon. The questions were not all asked by Cinematical, so we've kept them all in bold as a reference.
How did you get involved with the film Dear John?
Channing Tatum: They had approached me a long time ago, almost maybe even over a year ago, like a year-and-a-half. They asked me to read the book, and I loved the book. It had a lot more grit than a lot of Nicholas Sparks' stuff. A lot of his stuff is just so love story and this had a bunch of different love stories. So, a lot of the movies I've seen like Message in a Bottle, The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, they were kind of very singularly a love story. You know, just one, and this has like basically three in it. I think --me and my dad, me and Savannah, and Savannah and Tim. It was just a little more complicated of a story, and there's very few love stories that are told from a male perspective. It was kind of exciting for me. This is my third time playing soldier so I probably know more about being a soldier than any civilian that is out there -- which doesn't even scratch the surface about what a real soldier is.
Was it true that you were once in military school?
Tatum: No, that is a misquote. I said that originally I had my choice between going to a military school and a private school and it got misquoted. Everyone asks that and I can't quite figure how to straighten it up. I don't know how to do it.
Do you prefer the big action movies like G. I. Joe or do you like doing something like this?
Tatum: I love them both. They are both fun and it's nice to be able to switch it up. I just got through doing two kind of big action movies. One was a fighting movie, a street fighting movie, and then the next one was G. I. Joe, which was a big old huge action and just running around blowing up cars and crap like that. So you are kind of like just, "What? You can just sit and talk?" [It] is such a blessing sometime. I don't have to worry about hitting a wall. I don't have to worry about hitting on stuff and shooting at the right time, making sure it is safe. I can just sit and talk with somebody!
Did you get to hang around with military men to get more into the role of John Tyree?
Tatum: Yes, my buddy Brett has been in the military for about four years. I have hung out with him for almost four years now since Stop Loss. I met him on Stop Loss. In this movie I have Gavin, which was in Special Forces for years. He just got out. I think he did about three tours over there. He has given me a lot of information to digest and chew up. I've probably spent more time with soldiers than the average person.
What have you learned?
Tatum: A lot. We could sit here all day. I've learned what they eat, how they walk, to how to tactfully take a room. I know how to dress to a tee. I could probably do it just about as good as a soldier - just about. Just that, I am not a soldier in any way, shape or form. I just want to clear that up. I am no way near soldier. What they do is an anomaly. I had a big issue playing it in Stop Loss. I just felt that I was so excited about playing soldiers - so exciting to go play a soldier. And then once we started doing it I had a big ... almost [a] meltdown. It was like, I can't do this. I can't ever do this. This is impossible. I won't ever be able to really know what it's like to be a soldier. It's sort of our job as actors to try to be something that you're not, but that was something a little more to it. Like to be a criminal, or to act like a lawyer, or to act like an athlete is something else. But to do something as chivalrous is kind of holy in a way. It's something totally different that I will never to (inaudible).
You and Amanda seem to have a good rapport ...
Tatum: Yeah, we've got along since day one. She like, picks my nose. Basically, that's how close we are. That's kind of gross, but I enjoy it in some weird brother-sister way.
You've been a popular name thrown around to play Captain America. If they came to you, would you do it?
Tatum: Captain America? Oh my gosh! I just was given a book, one of the painters here came up and gave me Captain America. I would think about it. I don't know, maybe it is destiny. I would definitely think about it. I just got through doing G. I. Joe though. If G. I. Joe does well and it doesn't seem to be the same exact story, then I would, but I don't know. They seem to be very, very, very similar - almost identical. Except for the strength serum. The setting could be WWII. That would be cool.
Yeah, it'd be set in WW2.
Tatum: That would be cool. Each war, what I've got out of from the soldiers I've talked to is so highly different than the next one. The soldiers in this war cannot even relate to the soldiers of the war in Vietnam, the Korean War, WWI or WWII. The tactics change. Today's soldiers are professionals. They weren't drafted. This is what they chose to do. It's a lot different than getting a letter, and having to show up, and have to go over there. More than anything with this story, we wanted to take as much of the military out as we could. I think that now as we are getting more comfortable with the love story we realized that we probably should put some back in. We don't want it to be a war movie. We just wanted it to be just a love story.