Channing Tatum talks The Eagle and always playing a soldier

to discuss the film.

Beacon:  This is definitely a very physical role, so how did you prepare?

Channing Tatum: It was really kind of funny. [Director Kevin Macdonald] was like, “I don’t want it to look like you’ve been at the gym,” and I’m like, “That’s awesome (laughs). Done, that’s going to be perfect for me!” Then I show up and Kevin’s like (sighs), “I was thinking…tighter.” … And so it was chicken and broccoli and running, because these guys didn’t have a lot of fat in their diet. They were just wiry, tough men. They were always on the move. But the running and the swordplay were grueling enough. We spent six to seven hours a day at it. The story is being told within the choreography. You just can’t do a bunch of sword action and still remain within the story. So that’s the interesting part — seeing how it’s going to be played out. … But it was still a lot of fun. They yell, “Cut,” and you’re just like [giggles like a girl], “That was crazy!”

Beacon: You said in an interview that having this role was one of your childhood dreams. Did it live up?

CT: Yeah, in so many different ways and in ways I never imagined. You get a second glimpse for what it really was like. Even though it’s a movie, when you are in a battle, a scrum like that, you can’t even imagine … [Kevin Macdonald] really wanted to do long takes so we could show a whole run. Like the [beginning scene fort fight], that was one of the craziest experiences ever… it was just a melee… I could not breathe afterwards. It was so exhausting. But these guys fought weeks at a time; sometimes months. I wish I could say that I was that tough. I would have never been able to do it. They were just different men back then.

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Beacon: It sounds like you did all of your own stunts.

CT: Yes, I did everything but a few different riding scenes that they wouldn’t let you do or they didn’t have time because you were shooting something else.

Beacon: When you were working with Jamie Bell, how did you go about creating the relationship?

CT: We just hung out and ran around Budapest and Scotland. We just spent every waking moment with each other… It was a hard ride shooting, but there is nothing you can do throughout that type of a thing but just forge a friendship. You are miserable every day, and if you can just look to your right and see a face that you know is going through the same exact thing as you are, you just kind of have to laugh all the way through it. We’d be making up songs and music and be singing them while we are getting ready to jump into a freezing river and you are like, “What are we doing? This is so crazy.”

Beacon: One thing that impressed me about The Eagle was that all the battles had real extras. So how do you compare working with real actors and working with computer graphics like in G.I. Joe?

CT: I mean, the stuff in G.I. Joe, it’s hard to understand.  You’re in a half-built pod and [the director] is like, “Lean left”, “Lean right”, “Missile blowing up!”, “Shoot now!” and they just give you directions like that.  It’s hard to compare the two.  I like hand-to-hand combat. I love martial arts in general.  I’ve done it my entire life.  It’s just so much more tactile and you can feel like you’re really in it. But there are other opportunities, I think, coming down the road that CGI will be just as fun, because you can really stretch the world of reality.

Beacon: I was surprised to see you are already a producer. Was it hard to do both at once?

CT: Yeah, with Ten Year. It’s about a ten-year reunion. We have like 18 30-year-old actors so it’s like, a crazy experience, and it’s very, kind of like Diner, free form and loose. You got to figure out what kind of producer you will be.  Will you be the line producer or more of a creative producer?  It’s a delicate line to walk [that] you must handle in the right way — though I really did enjoy it.  It is a tricky thing to do for the first time because it’s really taboo to give notes.  You should never ever give notes to an actor that doesn’t want it or doesn’t welcome it. I found myself trying to navigate that, being a producer, and having to be behind the camera as well. I just decided the way I’ll go at it is just simply talk about the story arc and the scene.

Beacon: Branching off into so many different areas, what advice do you have for young filmmakers?

CT: Man, just do it … If you think you might want to go do something, don’t wait, start failing early. I want to direct one day.  I want to start failing early at it so hopefully by the time I’m older, I’ll have more experience in life and the industry.  Whatever it is, just do it… Set yourself up to fail.  Literally, so you know what you’re not supposed to be… [Producing Ten Year, I’ve already made] a lot of different decisions and some are the right ones and some are the really wrong ones.  So again, failing early!