FOXCATCHER – Interview with Channing Tatum

We catch up with the star of Bennet Miller’s latest movie…

Channing Tatum’s rise to A-List actor continues to escalate at a dizzying pace, the 34-year-old heart throb rose to fame in movies like STEP UP, 21 JUMP STREET & MAGIC MIKE and is currently working on Quentin Tarantino’s new movie THE HATEFUL EIGHT alongside the next X-MEN movie and his own Marvel spin-off GAMBIT.
This week Tatum appears in FOXCATCHER alongside Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Vanessa Redgrave. The film has been causing a stir amongst critics, it has already picked up the Best Director award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and has garnered three Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Picture.
The true crime drama tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins “coaching” a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral.

How did you prepare for your role as an Olympic wrestler?
Channing Tatum: We prepared pretty intensely; we wrestled for about 6 months before. I think Mark [Ruffalo] and I both have cauliflower ears as take-home presents from it, and bad knees! It was definitely something that gets into your body and doesn’t leave, in a way.

How difficult was it to have the real person you are portraying on the set, while you were shooting?
CT: He definitely coached me early in the movie, wrestling wise. When he was on set, it was such a polarising thing. At times, I was so thankful and grateful that he was there, and at other times I was completely terrified and… I don’t want to say distracted, but when you are looking off-camera and the person that you’re playing is there…

The sound design of the film, and the use of sound and silence, is really interesting. Where did this come from, and how did affect the film?
CT: I would ask [director Bennett Miller] to give me a song that he would want me to listen to for the scene that obviously wasn’t going to be played in the scene. He would give me something, and most of the time it was not what I was thinking it was going to be. I don’t know if he was doing that to throw me or what, but it was an interesting way to go about finding different ways into what I am trying to get across. He’s just obsessive about behaviour and his environment; if there are ducks that won’t shut up in the background, he loves it for some reason. He loves weird sounds…

The film is a powerful and probing examination of vulnerability. Can you talk about this?
CT: I had a unique ability to be able to talk to Mark Schultz, and spend some intimate time with him. That’s always interesting because we are telling a story, and he has his entire life that we can’t fit in. You obviously can take the physical things of the way he walks or little eccentricities that he has, but I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned on this film is, I think I came in with a plan, this thing that I had prepared, and after the first day I felt like I ruined it. I didn’t feel like I did anything right, and what I realised was that this wasn’t a bar that I was going to jump up and hit; you just keep digging and trying to find the truth in Mark and the film and what we were doing. I think the thing is you have to give yourself over to it, and let it come through.

FOXCATCHER is released in Irish cinemas on January 9th, 2015

Words: Brogen Hayes