In Channing Tatum‘s upcoming drama Fighting, he re-teams with his A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints director, Dito Montiel, to portray a street fighter on the bare-knuckle brawling circuit of New York City. While promoting that film, Channing also spoke about how unprepared he feels for the likely attention he’ll receive for his upcoming summer blockbuster, when he becomes known to audiences as the live-action version of the action figure G.I. Joe. To balance out all of the explosions, he will also have the romantic drama Dear John, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), out in 2010.
Check out what he had to say below…
How daunting was it for you to go into the lead of a huge Hollywood movie like G.I. Joe?
That type of film is not only daunting, in general, for a seasoned actor or an actor that has done one of those films before, lower on the call sheet, but I had no idea what I was doing. I had no clue. I was terrified of the movie. I really had no aspirations to go do a huge film like that, in my career yet. I didn’t really feel ready for it. I kinda got thrown into it. In doing so, it really opened my mind to the fact that it’s just acting. It’s a different style of acting. It’s more skipping along the surface. It is about the big explosions. You’re not sitting there, trying to do Shakespeare.
You can’t take these big blockbuster films seriously, so where is the line between taking the work seriously and just completely realizing how ridiculous the whole thing is?
You kinda find it and you laugh at it. That’s the only way to really do it. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t laughing on the set, all the time, on G.I. Joe. Marlon Wayans is my partner in the movie, and we laughed through the entire thing. I was sitting there, looking at a green screen, yelling, “Rip cord!!! Noooo!,” and you’re just like, “What am I doing?” Or, you’re like, “You get the rockets, I’ll get the nanomites. Wait a minute! What are nanomites? I don’t know what’s going on!” But, you just have fun with it, and you just pray that they get a good take because you don’t know what anything looks like and you don’t know what you’re reacting to. They’re like, “Look right! Look left!,” and you don’t know what’s happening. You can only trust your director.
Do you feel like you have to overact in something that size?
Yeah, exactly! I was afraid of overacting, but that’s what you can’t be afraid of. You don’t have to overact. I was the guy that they’d have to pull it out of. I was like, “No, man, it just feels too big. I can’t do it!” Stephen Sommers was like, “Just trust me. Promise me you’re going to do it, and I promise you I won’t use the take if it’s not right.” It would be like pulling teeth, but I’d do it. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve seen ADR, and it fits. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was just the worst actor on the planet.
What was the line you had to say that made you think, “I will never be able to say this with a straight face!”?
There were so many. Every single one of the lines was like that. I don’t think it actually made it into the film, but I had to say, “Action figure sold separately,” or something like that. And, Marlon had a line where he says, “You’ve got a kung fu grip!” All the G.I. Joe dolls had the kung fu grip, and he had to say that about somebody that grabbed him. I was like, “That ain’t ever gonna work. That’s never, ever gonna be in the movie.” And, it’s in the movie and it works. All the fanboys will be like, “Yeah!!!” People who don’t know about the kung fu grip will just be like, “Whatever. That’s just what he chose to say right then.”
So, the film is self-referential?
Yeah. It’s very self-referential sometimes, just for the wink at the crowd.
Are you prepared for the fan reaction that you’ll get?
I don’t think I can honestly say that I’m ready, if it does good. If it doesn’t do good, then I’m totally ready. It’s just going to be like it is now.
You also have Dear John, with Amanda Seyfried, coming out next year. What’s that about?
It’s a romantic movie. Nicholas Sparks wrote it, who everybody knows wrote The Notebook, and it’s just not that far away. It’s a tear-jerker that pulls on the heartstrings. It’s hugely sentimental, in more of a contemporary way. The Notebook was a very artistic film that captured a time. This is a very contemporary story. I play a soldier that comes home on leave and falls in love with a girl, and he has a peculiar sort of relationship with his dad. Unbeknownst to anyone in the family, his dad has a form of Asperger Syndrome and he’s a very reclusive, non-social person, which has made John a little bit anti-social. He has such a formula. It’s like novocaine. It just works. I got to meet him and he’s actually a really interesting guy.
Who plays the dad?
Richard Jenkins, who is such an amazing actor. He’s the guy that you tap when you just need a brilliant actor to come in. He hits it, every time, on the mark.
What do you think of what Tatum has to say? Do you think G.I. Joe sounds cheesy? Or will it be worth watching?