Channing Tatum is known for performing in romance movies such as Dear John and The Dilemma or teenage dance flicks like Step Up or Step Up 2. However, with the release of The Eagle, Tatum has now brought his acting resume up to a whole new level.
In a conference call last Wednesday Tatum said, “For myself I want to do as many different things as I can. I do a lot of my learning on set. Two of my favorite movies are Braveheart and Gladiator. I wanted to do a period drama.”
He chose a good period drama to start off with. The Eagle contains just enough in-your-face action with an exciting nod toward a time when honor was central. Tatum plays Marcus Aquila, a young Roman soldier who is desperate to regain his father’s honor by finding the treasured golden Eagle. This all takes place in a Roman-ruled Britain. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong) plays Esca, the slave that helps Marcus through his journey once he saves his life.
Tatum admits that playing a soldier is tough. He said, “One of the biggest things was finding the right voice because we wanted the soldiers to be American, but not contemporary.” On top of the voice changes, Tatum had to undergo a lot of training to accomplish all the horse riding and sword fighting in the movie. “We worked pretty hard for six hours a day.” He admits this was a difficult process for him even though he grew up in Alabama and rode horses and knew martial arts from a young age.
While on set, Tatum suffered through an unfortunate injury involving a rushing techie and a scalding tub of water that scorched his nether regions. On the issue he said, “I was out for a day. It was painful, but it was just an accident.” Beside that, the actors had to film most of the scenes in Scotland, which, according to Tatum, is “grueling.” Even though he had to undergo all this, he considers himself to be pretty lucky. He says, “I’ve won the lottery!”
Tatum shares the screen in The Eagle with such stars as Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice, MASH) and Mark Strong (Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes). He looks highly upon them both, referring to them as “legends.”
Tatum says on his approach to acting: “I draw as much from my own experiences as I can—I know what’s it like to feel pain, anger, and pride.” This especially comes across in the scene with the most dialogue in the movie, which also happens to be Tatum’s favorite. This is when Marcus Aquila tells his uncle that he plans to travel out of the Roman limits to reclaim the prized Eagle and restore his family’s name. In this scene, Tatum bubbles over with a livid energy. The anger and drive he feels can be seen through his eyes.
Tatum admires his character’s honor. He says, “I think the appeal of the movie is the Roman soldiers. Normal day people don’t have as much honor and values in faith. I think we lost a lot of that.”
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