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Exclusive Q&A: Channing Tatum Spreads His 'Eagle' Wings

Channing Tatum
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With a slew of movies coming out in the next year, Channing Tatum is a man in demand. After sitting down with him to talk about his latest, the Roman Era swashbuckler "The Eagle," we can clearly see at least one reason why.

The guy is undeniably charming.

He's not afraid to talk about everything from his love of swordfights and taking acting classes to his family jewels and his plots to lure Johnny Depp into appearing in the upcoming "21 Jump Street" movie. He constantly laughs at himself and -- did we mention he's charming? See for yourself.

Channing Tatum in "The Eagle"
Focus

In "The Eagle," you're kind of gladiator-like. Was that ever some sort of childhood fantasy?
Playing with swords and staffs and spears and things like that was my entire childhood. Then I saw "Braveheart" and it was kind of over for me. It was like, "Ahh, I love this stuff." Then "Gladiator" came out. When I started acting, I started getting into older movies like "Spartacus…" It's so good -- the politics in it all, the social element of the whole thing, [the Roman Empire] is the biggest empire and the greatest empire probably ever. Aside maybe from Genghis Khan. I love history too so it's definitely a plus.

Kevin [Macdonald] is by far one of my favorite filmmakers so I was looking for anything he was doing… I called him immediately because this was a genre and period I was dying to be in. You can have a great story and you can have a great screenplay, you can have great actors but, without a great director, you won't have a movie.

You injured a rather private part of your body shooting battle scenes in "The Eagle" – can you tell us what happened?
We had been in Devil's Pulpit [in northern Scotland], which was the last scene where me and Jamie [Bell] are sort of running down that river gorge. We had been in this hypothermic river water all day… We had people checking our vitals the whole time because you can't be in it for more than five minutes or you'll get hypothermia for sure. We had two wetsuits on, but it wasn't helping so they'd pour warm water down our wetsuits to keep our core warm because we had to be in it all way.

We'd wrapped the day and were walking up -- it's about a 10-15 minute hike out on the trail – and there comes a guy with this huge bottle of water… He's like, "Do you want to warm up?" and I said, "Yeah, totally" and he pours it down… [The water bottle] didn't get all the way down the river to dilute the boiling water and it just went down. I tried to get it off and it just kept going down…

[It] definitely was by far the most pain I've ever been in my entire life. I can't even describe it, like suffocating white pain. There's nothing to explain it.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan
Getty Images

So is everything alright down there now?
Perfect. Everything's in perfect working order, you can ask my wife. I'm back on top, so that's good.

Um, that's a bit more of an answer than I needed.
Metaphorically. Metaphorically back on top!

You've mentioned possibly taking a break and going back to acting classes. Is that really in the cards?
Yeah, definitely. For every film I do, I get coached by an acting coach. Matthew Banks is my acting coach -- he's amazing -- and all we do is talk about story and character. I love that part about it. I've loved it so much lately that I think I need to take a bit of a break so I can go back, sharpen the tools and maybe try some things on in the safety of a class that I can bring back to that actors screen. It's not easy to try new things on set when time is money, you're just burning film and burning time just trying new things.

Could that break also involve starting a family?
Probably not although I will definitely be taking a break when I start a family. I think that will be in a few years. Jenna [Dewan, his wife] isn't really ready -- she's still very ambitious about acting.

It's hard for women in the industry. I didn't believe that when she first told me when I first met her, but I can see it's so much harder. There's not enough good women roles, there are more women than men. There's hardly any women directors. Why is that? Why aren't there as many leading roles for women?

Speaking of directing, you've said you wanted to get behind the camera a bit. Is that in the works or still a ways down the road?
I think it's always in the works but [my producing partner and I] have a long way to go to really have even the experience to put something up on its feet... We're going to go do some shorts, try to do a commercial or two, maybe a music video and just try to get into that mindset. It's an entirely different mindset… It’s a lot of stuff to think about, even minute little things. It's multitasking to a degree that not a lot of people can do.

It'll probably be a small drama. We're drawn to that and can understand that more. Definitely not going to do a comedy, not going to do an action movie because you need money to do that. It's easier to do a down and dirty drama for little to no money.

Channing Tatum in "G.I. Joe"
Paramount

What are you hearing about a "G.I. Joe" sequel?

Hearing that there is a script. I haven't read it, I don't know who's in it or what's it about, but they are trying to go this year in New Orleans, so I might be in New Orleans for the rest of the year. It's one of things with these big movies: one minute they're a go, one minute they're not. It's all money.

Any idea who else is coming back?
No idea. I'm assuming everyone -- we didn't kill anybody so they could all come back, unless they just reboot the entire thing and then I'm not even in it anymore. You never know if they'll just hit the reset button. It's such a big franchise that they could do that.

What can you tell us about the "21 Jump Street" movie, which starts shooting in April?
I am so pumped, it is so cool. It's one of those movies where I know it's going to be work, but even reading the script and working on the characters is so much fun. I'm just like, "How can we talk about doing anything like this?" I refuse to say anything about what it is because it's going to be so shocking, so balls-to-the-wall, just madness. The characters are crazy, the story's crazy.

Has Johnny Depp said anything about his willingness to participate?
Trust me we are beating on his door. Every single day we are sending him something… He has said he wants to do it, but he's the most busy guy on the entire planet.

So what kinds of things are you doing to lure him in?
I'm thinking about kidnapping his wife personally -- I think he might do it then.

I've been brainstorming on your behalf, and I think Johnny really responds to kids. Remember that kid who wrote him a letter and Johnny showed up at his school dressed as Jack Sparrow? Maybe you could enlist a bunch of kids to help with a letter-writing campaign telling him he should do "21 Jump Street" because Mr. Channing  is a nice man and wants him to do it.
I think I have to do that. I think I'm going to go to an elementary school and find a bunch of kids to do that. I'm just going to go take over a school for a whole day and say I'm going to need all of these kids in an auditorium now. It'd be the craziest thing ever. "Here's what you're going to do kids. Johnny Depp, Jack Sparrow, write him a letter."

Wanna see more of Channing Tatum? Check out his Hot People Looking Hot gallery.

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