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The Eagle - Channing Tatum interview

Channing Tatum in The Eagle

Interview by Rob Carnevale

CHANNING Tatum talks about filming in the harsh environment of the Scottish Highlands while making Roman epic, The Eagle, bonding with co-star Jamie Bell and why he also suffered a very painful injury to his unmentionables!

Q. Were there any surprises for you in just how physical The Eagle shoot turned out?
Channing Tatum: Yeah. Look, even if they’d told me it was going to be the coldest thing that I’d ever go through in my life I still don’t think I would have understood it until the second day and I’m soaked all the way through. It was almost freezing. If it hadn’t of been so wet, it would have been freezing! Just to be outside for 13 hours like that… I mean we couldn’t get trailers sometimes to the places we were at. We had to hike in for 20 or 30 minutes. Our director was even carrying cameras and reels out to the set. So, it just became a small knit family and we kind of went through hell together. But that’s really what Jamie [Bell] and I’s character did. So, we all were brought together closer as a family for it.

Q. Did you do all your own stunts? And did you pick up any injuries?
Channing Tatum: Almost all the stunts, except for the river scene. They wouldn’t let us go down the rapids because it had been raining literally for a month straight and the river’s had risen about three feet. It was too dangerous for us to do. There was also maybe one horse-back riding scene where we just didn’t have time. I definitely got hurt, though. I got scalded pretty bad during one of the scenes. But fighting? Not really. Just bangs and bruises.

There was one scene, though, involving the moment where I have to drown Tahar Rahim’s character. It was just so cold that when your head goes underneath the water all thought and all air goes out of you and you’re just in shock. I had to hold him underwater and he was supposed to tap me when he’s ready for me to pull him up. But he didn’t. I was like: “Am I going to kill him? I mean actually kill him?” Finally, I was like: “Hey, wake up!” And I brought him up.

Q. I hear the scald was on quite a sensitive part of your anatomy [his private member]?
Channing Tatum: [Looks bashful] Yes.

Q. Can you tell us more about it? Is there photographic evidence?
Channing Tatum: Yes, Jamie [Bell] has stolen it and won’t give it back to me! But yes, they were trying to keep us warm and this poor guy was running up and down a hill that was about 10 minutes out of where we were shooting and he had to carry this huge bottle of water. On this day, I had met him about halfway after we had wrapped the shooting and he didn’t dilute the boiling kettle water with river water to make it just simply hot. Once they pour it down, you pour it away from your body and it just keeps going lower. So, I had no skin anywhere down there to speak of! But we’re good now! It didn’t even scar. It’s pretty regenerative down there.

Q. You didn’t tweet about it?
Channing Tatum: I did not. I now know in hindsight that my judgement was correct in not tweeting it. But there was a moment. I was pretty proud of it, actually. Jamie would be like: “Channing, show it to people!”

Q. You share a great rapport with Jamie in the film. Was that something you had to work on?
Channing Tatum: Yeah, we’ve talked about it a little bit. It actually turned into an unforeseen complication because Jamie and I did get along so well right off the bat. So, keeping the tension in the storey of Marcus and Esca… we had to make sure we reminded ourselves of it from time to time because it has to stay pretty taut of a line to holds. I mean, we never really laugh together in the film until the very end, the very last scene. But we were laughing as soon as they yelled ‘cut’. It was sort of a crack up the whole time.

Q. How did the process of doing it all for real on this film compare to other shoots you’ve done that rely more on CGI, such as GI Joe, which is also reliant on a different kind of weaponry?
Channing Tatum: Yeah, it goes back to m first training, which was in the back yard probably swinging around sticks [as a kid]. I did have training before with martial arts… I did kung fu from when I was nine to 13. You have to be really careful but you want to be able to make it look eventually as though it’s just a part of you. So, you train over and over and over again.

Q. What did you think about not having any women on the set? Was it refreshing?
Channing Tatum: [Laughs] I don’t really want to fall into something here! I think doing anything different is always refreshing, although it’s never refreshing not having women around. But I thought it was really, really accurate and smart of Jeremy and Kevin to stay with these two and not feel the need to fall into a sort of stereotype of always needing to have a love story. It really works on the friendship.

Q. How much as the one American on the panel did you know of Roman history? Is it taught in American schools?
Channing Tatum: It is taught, although probably not to the extent that it is taught here. But it was my favourite subject in school, probably because of the stories and characters. Gladiator and Braveheart are also two of my favourite films, so I might have paid a little more attention in school around those subjects than most people.. But Kevin was great. He comes from the documentary world and he really did inundate me with a lot of material and factual stuff that I could really sink myself into.

Read our review of The Eagle

Read our interview with Jamie Bell