Channing Tatum talks G.I Joe

We caught up with Channing Tatum a couple of days back to chat about his new bare-knuckle biffo-flick “Fighting” and needless to say, another little film he’s done came up in conversation. Here’s a smidgen for our upcoming interview with the amiable young actor, in which he discusses Stephen Sommers’ “G.I Joe”

What were the challenges of playing the lead in a huge Hollywood movie, ”G.I. Joe”?
It’s not only daunting, that type of a film in general, for a seasoned actor or an actor that had done one of those films before, lower on the call sheet. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no clue. I was terrified of the movie. I had really no aspirations to go do a huge film like that really, not yet in my career. I didn’t really feel ready for it. I kind of got thrown into it. In doing so, it really opened my mind to it’s just acting. It’s a different style of acting. It’s more skipping along the surface and it is about the big explosions and stuff. You’re not sitting there trying to do Shakespeare.

How do you take the work seriously when you can’t take the film seriously?
You kind of find it. It’s weird, and you laugh at it. It’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. Especially, Marlon Wayans is my partner in the movie and we laughed through the entire thing. I’m sitting there looking at a green screen like, “RIPCOOOORD! NOOOO!” Stuff like that 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’re just having fun with it. You just pray. Pray, pray, pray that they get a good take in all the slew of things because you don’t know what anything looks like. You don’t know what you’re reacting to and they’re like, “Look right!” You’re like [gasps]. Then they’re like, “Look left!” And you don’t know what’s happening. You can only trust your director and that’s it.

Is that the overacting everyone’s talking about?
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 they’d have to pull it out of me. I’m like, “No, man, it just feels too bad. I can’t do it.” He’s like, “Just trust me. Promise me you’re going to do it and then I promise you I won’t use the take if it’s not right.” Then I’m like okay. Ugh. I do it and it’d just be pulling teeth. You see it back now. I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve seen ADR and stuff and it fits. You can’t believe it. You thought you were just the worst actor on the planet.

What was the line you thought you’d never say with a straight face?
Every one of the lines, every single one. What was the one that was, and I don’t think they actually made it into the movie, was “Action figures sold separately.” Something like that. They wanted me to put it in the film. Then there was like Marlon, Marlon actually, it wasn’t me, Marlon had a line that was like, “And a kung fu grip.” Because all the Joes had a kung fu grip. He had to say that about somebody that grabbed him. He was like, “Oh, he’s got a kung fu grip.” I was like, “That ain’t ever gonna work. That’s never, ever going to be in the movie” and it’s in the movie and it works a little bit. All the fan boys will be like, “Yeah!” And anybody that doesn’t know about the kung fu grip will be like, “Oh, whatever, it’s just what he chose to say right then.”

So it’s self-referential?
Yes, it’s very [self-referential], sometimes. Just for the wink at the crowd.