Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Channing Tatum Interview for AGTRYS at IndieLONDON

Just in time for the March 2nd premiere of A Guide to Recognising Your Saints in the UK, Jack Foley of the site IndieLondon.co.uk interviews Channing Tatum about his role in the critically-acclaimed film. Channing talks about why the role struck such a personal chord with him and how he feels about being compared to a young Marlon Brando by one critic.

Q. The character you play in A Guide To Recognising Your Saints is very different from the other roles that you’ve played. Do you prefer playing gritty characters such as Antonio?
A: With my career in general, I feel like I’m finally getting to do the roles that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a slow build; you can’t ever get the roles that you want in the beginning of your career because you don’t have the buzz or the heat, or whatever the hell it is you need for the agents and the studios to be happy. They want you to do a little bit at a time until you get the chance to work out and do the roles that really mean something to you.

Q. Is [your character] Antonio the most closely related to you as a person?
A: Yes. I think that’s what I love about film and especially about director Dito Montiel’s life and script. He wrote real characters without any heroes. They’re deep and flawed people; in their minds they are always right. I liked the simplicity of the characters. Dito didn’t try to make anything pretty or glossy and make you root for a character. I remember I read somewhere from a critic who didn’t like the film, he said: “I didn’t really like any of these characters.” But that’s exactly the point, you don’t need to like any of the characters, as long as you can understand why and where they’re from. Why do you need to like any of the characters in the movie? That’s not how life is. You don’t like everyone that you meet.

Q. Did you ever get to meet the real Antonio, who your character is based on?
A: No! Antonio is still in prison. Dito and I talked about whether I should visit him in prison pretty extensively and for a lot of reasons. Antonio went to prison as a teenager and has never really come out of prison for any serious amount of time. Now, he’s in his mid-30s and all that prison time really changes a person.

Dito said: “I want you to read Antonio, and know Antonio from how I wrote Antonio and play him from your heart.” I had a best friend who was just like Antonio. I grew up in Florida and you don’t have to be from Astoria to have crazy friends. Basically, my best friend was just like Antonio, maybe not as crazy and absolutely dangerous but you could at least reason with the guy. I came from a place where I really wasn’t trying to be the real Antonio; I just wanted to tell the story in the script, the friendship that was there. It was written more about the story of Dito and Antonio.

These kids, in general, they don’t really know how to talk to each other. In the movie, none of us really say what we mean. The only person who says what he means is Chazz Palminteri’s character. No one ever really speaks honestly with each other. Antonio loves, but he doesn’t know how to express it.

Q. Did you know about the dynamic of Astoria and the borough of Queens before doing the movie?
A: Yes. I’ve actually lived in Queens. I lived in New York for two-and-a-half years and I actually lived in Astoria. Not the part we filmed in, but just a few blocks away for six months and then I lived in Long Island City, which is really close to Astoria. We shot in Astoria.

Basically, those steps at the end of the film where Diane Wiest and Robert Downey Jr are talking is right where Antonio used to live. We shot right where they lived and so it was pretty intense to see all the people who were being depicted actually walking around. People would see Dito and ask him: “Hey Dito, who’s playing Antonio?” I’d think: “Oh s**t, that’s me, this tall white boy from Florida!”

Q: Why did you choose Queens to live?
A: Because it was cheap! I just got in wherever I could get in. I was living out of my suitcase for a little while because I was just trying to make ends meet [while modeling].

Q. Did you read Dito’s book before you performed the role?
A: I wanted to go and get it as soon as I knew I had got the part and then I talked to Dito and he asked me not to. He didn’t want any of the actors to read the book. There is a lot of stuff that’s piecemeal and taken from other people and references applied to one character that has been added to another for the film. When you adapt a book to a film, you take all the best parts and put them into an hour and 15 minutes and have to compromise on the characters. It’s not a documentary so I tried to keep to the fictional nature by not reading the book.

Q. Do you think it is strange that the title refers to these boisterous characters as Saints?
A: No I don’t think so, everything is perspective. I think that Dito meant to do that, he really wanted to find something that was so beautiful in something that was violent and dangerous. He learned from every single one of those guys. He chose to get out. I had people in my life who were insane and negative, but they taught me how not to be, how I didn’t want to end up.

Q. One critic has likened your performance to that of a young Brando…
A: I don’t know about that. I think that the only thing that Brando and I have in common is that we’re bigger guys. How do you compare people to people? It was an unbelievable compliment, but I think it was a little far fetched.

Q. Is he an actor you admire?
A: Yes, Brando, Newman and Redford. I think that those kinds of actors are lost now. They are men who had big hearts. Of today’s people, I love the older actors like Morgan Freeman. Nowadays I think that people and actors are getting too soft in general. Audiences and critics they don’t like seeing what happens in real life. Why do you think comedies make all the money at the box office?

People want to go and laugh. I can understand that. In a time of war people want to see Will Ferrell, which is what I do. I do the same thing. I want to go see him run around and go crazy. Who wants to go see someone beat the hell out of a woman, because it’s kind of forbidden and a little bit scary. I don’t know. I like intense stuff. I really do.

Q: Were your teenage years intense?
A: I think that any teen gets into a little trouble here and there. It’s not hard to find trouble when you’re looking for it as a kid.

Q. Were you a leader or a follower?
A: I think I was somewhere in the middle. In truth, I was probably more like the Dito character in the movie. He didn’t like to lead, but in his own way Dito was more of a leader than Antonio was. Dito didn’t do anything he didn’t want to do, but Antonio wouldn’t want to do anything without Dito, so you can figure out who is the leader there. I personally don’t think you should lead out of choice; you should lead when you have no choice and someone has to step up.

Click here to read IndieLondon's review of the movie.

[Article Source]


dana said...

Great interview! Wonder what happend to his friend.

Now, can someone once and for all get his biography straight? Did he grow up in Mississippi or in Florida?

Blog Expert said...

I know what you mean. From what I can tell, he was born in Alabama, lived in Mississippi for a few years, and then spent time in Florida during his teenage years. If I ever get to interview him, I would love to clear up questions like this one and I want to know how many sibilings he actually has too. I can only confirm 1 sister, but I have read as many as 7 or 8.

dana said...

Oh yeah, and ask him if he has a single brother between the ages 23-25 for me.

I also wonder if the rest of the family still lives in Mississippi and the names of his siblings since Channing is such an unusual name...