Most people want to get to know "Channing Tatum", the actor. I'm a little different. I was always hoping my trip to his set in New York would help me to get to know Chan, the person, because that 's who I want to be friends with.
Well, I am extremely happy to say that I was able to get to know both Channing Tatum and his alter-ego Chan this past Monday on the set of his new movie 'Fighting'.
After months and months of researching and writing about a person who is obviously well-loved by his friends, family, fellow actors, crew, photographers, fans, and anyone else who is lucky enough to spend even a few moments with him, I was a little afraid that the real person may have difficulties living up to the legend that is Channing Tatum.
I am so happy to say that Chan not only lived up to the legend, he made me realize (without even trying and merely just by being himself) that everything I have heard, read, and written over the past year is a 150% complete reality.
Hear me when I say this...Channing Matthew Tatum is the real deal through and through. Read on to see exactly why I know this like I know my own name (which for the purposes of CTU is now Q).
Because I know the fans want details, I am going to let you know about how my day went down from start to finish. This will be the longest post I will probably EVER write, but I hope it'll be worth it...
I recently mentioned to Chan's mom, Kay (the sweetest woman you will ever meet), that I was going to be going to New York to visit friends. When she told Chan, he wanted me to come to set. Since I had not had the opportunity to meet him in person yet, I can't even explain how excited I was to learn this and could not believe my luck.
Fast forward to Monday October 15, 2007...
As I walked up to the set near 54th street and 7th avenue in New York City I could see Chan working on a scene outside of a little cafe called Fluffy's with Terrance Howard and Peter Tambakis (the actor who played young Nerf with Chan in 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints'). I stood there for a bit just to kind of take it all in and still disbelieving that I was about to meet this person that I had been writing about for over 10 months.
As instructed, I called Chan's assistant and he had me meet him so he could officially take me on set. As I write this, I can still feel the nerves in my stomach as we approached the small set. Once we made it there, his assistant (who for the purposes of this post I'll call B) took the time to explain everything that was going on around me. I learned about the different crew and about an area called "Video Village" where you find a bunch of TV monitors playing the scenes, producers with headsets, chairs with important people's names on them (like Chan's for example) and my home for most of the shoot.
It was crazy to see how intertwined the entire set was with real New York life. If there were no cameras and big lights, you would barely even know that the set was there. I felt sorry for all of the production assistants, because they spent most of their days trying to stop determined New Yorkers from walking strait through the shots. It was like wrangling cats at times, but they all did a really great job.
B then excused himself for a second so he could go get Chan and I could get my official introduction. As I saw them walking towards me, I started to get really nervous and decided it was best I looked in the other direction.
When Chan approached, he surprised me and I was so nervous, I actually screamed. As I quickly turned, I could see this very tall, green-eyed, gorgeous guy with a HUGE smile on his face telling me how great it was to meet me and giving me a hug and I instantly felt comfortable. From then on, it just felt like two old friends talking for the rest of the day.
As I have said before, my real name can be complicated to people, so I made the decision before I even got to set to have everyone call me Q. It's a name that I can thank CTU reader and Fabulous Channing Tatum Fan Jan for and Chan had also used it in some the magazines he signed recently for all of us. It seemed appropriate and cool and from there on out I was Q.
The first thing we did was take pictures on my camera and my IPhone and Chan also had the set photographer take pictures of us too. Chan and I started talking and someone from the crew brought me a headset to wear while Chan was filming. It was really great because I would be able to hear all of the actors during filming and watch the monitors, which kept me very connected to him all day.
Chan had to get back to filming, but let me know that I could call his chair home as long as I was on set.
Chan was great about introducing me to crew, actors, and directors on set. I met Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard, director Dito Montiel, a handful of other actors, the director of photography, the film's executive producer (the boss) and a ton of crew members that all treated me like I was part of the family.
More importantly, all day everyone kept telling me how awesome, down-to-earth, and nice Channing is to work with. I knew after like 5 minutes, it was going to be hard for me to leave at the end of the day, because all of the people were just so amazingly genuine and cool to hang around.
Prior to coming to set, I was worried that I would not get any quality time with Chan, because he was working and I didn't want to get in the way. There was no need for me to worry, because Chan was such a great host. When he was not filming, he would almost always come sit or stand right by me and then we would continue our conversations. Even the few times he stayed on set to talk the director or other crew, he would wave just make sure I was OK. He took such great care of me while I was there and made me feel really special.
It was fun to watch how Chan interacted with the crew, the other actors, and fans on the streets too. Chan and Terrence had a fun fruit fight at one point that ended when Terrence threw an orange or some other round piece of prop fruit at Chan that almost accidentally hit an unsuspecting production assistant until Chan came to the rescue and caught it within an inch of her face.
It was also fun to witness the athletic contests that Chan, Terrence and Peter would have, presumably to stay warm on set. I recall a lot of talks about chin up contests and even witnessed some actual chin ups done by the actors on the green scaffolding that seems to be a staple on New York streets. Chan and Terrence are huge jokers on set, so it was really fun to watch their pranks go back and forth all day, but I have to say that I was clearly on Team Channing no matter how cute Terrence was. I also really liked to see how Chan would interact with fans when he was not filming. He would shake their hands, ask for their names, and happily takes pictures with them. It was fun to witness in person how great he is with his fans.
I really enjoyed watching him in scenes as he effortlessly dropped into and out character. Chan and Terrence would be talking about some random thing prior to the scene, the director would say action and they would all of a sudden be their characters. It was great to watch the entire process and how they kept filming the scene from all sorts of angles.
When Chan and Terrence got longer breaks, they would generally go back to their trailers with an intimidating looking production assistant and/or Terrence's body guard. Again, I didn't know what to expect the first time he got a 15 minute break. Honestly, I thought I would probably be asked to sit on set and wait for him to return, but Chan wasn't having any of that. Every time he went back to his trailer I was expected to follow. He was not going to let a little break get in the way of his hosting duties and again I felt extremely special to be allowed behind the trailer door to hang out with Chan and his assistant in his home on set.
In the half that I saw of it, Chan's trailer had what you might expect...a couch, a massage bed (explanation to follow), an entertainment center, and a kitchenette with refrigerator that held his tons of sports drinks and his special diet food.
Now to explain the massage bed...although the name will most-likely change, Chan's movie is currently called 'Fighting' and is all about the underground street fighting world. Sadly, this means that Chan has been getting beat up on for weeks now and still has two major fight scenes to film without a stunt double between now and when filming wraps in mid-November. Needless to say, the production has added massage therapy to Chan's on set perks, and I, for one, definitely think he has earned that privilege after hearing the stories of some previous fight scenes.
I really liked the trips to the trailer, because it's when I got a chance to learn more about Chan and what's going on in his life. For example, he is currently on a special diet prescribed by his weight trainer Will. A strict diet that seems to include a lot of vegetables that he's not a big fan of and interesting breakfast sausages that did not look too appetizing, but he ate as a snack. A lot of readers have noticed that Chan seems to be shrinking before our eyes and he told me that he had lost around 30 lbs for his role as Shawn in 'Fighting' because the director did not want him to be bulky.
Ironically, Chan had not seen his new movie "The Trap", so during one of our trailer breaks, he was able to watch the DVD of the movie that I had brought with me. It was cool to know that I showed him his own movie and validated his claim that he reads this blog so he can know what he's doing each day (in this case what he did this past summer when the movie was filmed).
On one of our trips back to the trailer, Chan checked the email on his new IPhone and found one from his girlfriend, Jenna Dewan. In the email, Jenna asked Chan to tell me hi. Since I am also a Jenna fan, it was really cool of her to do that. She actually was going to come to set that day, but got called away to Connecticut to work on her current film "The Six Wives of Henry Lefay" with Tim Allen, Andie MacDowell, Barbara Barrie, Elisha Cuthbert, Jenna Dewan, Paz Vega, Lindsay Sloane and Eric Christian Olsen. You can click here to learn about Jenna's shoot on Monday.
I also learned that he is looking forward to "preparing" for his next role as Hugh Thompson in Oliver Stone's 'Pinkville', which will begin filming in Thailand right after 'Fighting' at the end of November. Since the real life character had broken his back at some point, Chan is excited to eat and drink whatever he wants to get back out of shape for the role.
Although he does not seem to mind, Chan constantly has people pulling at him from all directions and on one our trips back to the trailer, some people from the production stopped us to take pictures of him specifically for 'Pinkville'. Chan will be in Thailand filming the movie for three months. Although he has invited me to come on future sets, I'm thinking Thailand is a little far, so I have got to find some spies over there or make Chan promise to send us a picture from his IPhone every now and then. Let's all keep our fingers crossed, because we can't go 3 months without new pictures of him.
Just to give you a couple of examples of how amazing Chan is as a person...First of all, B (his assistant) told me that Chan did not just want to sign the magazines that he sent to us. It was important to him that he wrote actual messages in each magazine, which just shows how much his fans mean to him. One day, set wrapped early, so B reminded Chan about the magazines and the next thing you know, I had them back in a week and a half so I could start giving them out to eager CTU readers. I want to give a big thanks to Chan, Kay, and B for making that happen so quickly.
Secondly, while we were in the trailer, I asked him if he could take a picture for an ill fan who is fighting a very horrible disease. Without hesitation, he was not only more than willing to do it, he took the time to write out a note for her and was really concerned that the picture convey the proper message. It was awesome to see how much he cared about a person he had never even met before. If my boys turn out half as thoughtful as Chan is, I would be one happy mother and I just take my hat off to Chan's parents for producing such a caring person.
Here are some quick facts I learned about Chan during our trailer talks and on set:
- He really loves photography, but it's hard to find the time to do it. He actually showed me a gorgeous picture that he took of his real-life girlfriend Jenna Dewan. He also seems to favor black and white photos.
- He loves to high-five people. I can count at least three for which I was lucky to be the recipient.
- He likes to sing to himself and although he has never had a record deal of any sort and says he can't sing, I thought he sounded great. He also told me that Terrence Howard will be coming out with a record in the near future and really likes his music.
- He does not like broccoli (sorry trainer Will).
- He really likes gaining weight for parts or at least the process of gaining weight.
- He wants to become a film producer so he can make films he wants to act in. He would love to play the title character in 'The Plucker' where he will probably get his first producer credit.
- He tries to only take roles that interest and challenge him. Although he had a lot of scrips thrown at him after his previous successes, he is very selective about what he will take on.
- He really likes watching movies, but as he becomes more educated in the film world, he finds himself analyzing the movies more. Also, he hates it when you learn all you need to know about the movie in the trailer.
- He says that the fight scene days tend to be more tiring, not necessarily because of the physical demands, but mostly because of the emotional demands that are required of him during the highly-charged scenes.
- He likes keeping good people around him. From his publicist to his agent to his managers to his assistant B, he bonds with the people he lets into his inner circle and they all understand that Chan is not about money, unlike many stars that will take any project just to get a pay check.
- He likes to "go ghost" when he is not working. He tries to take time off and can disappear on people without notice.
- He thinks he's a nerd. Says his calm, cool, and collected exterior is an act. (How cute is that?)
- He likes to golf with his assistant and friends and tries to make time for it during filming.
- If he had a dog, he would probably have a pit bull.
- When given a choice on set, I am pretty sure he seemed to like the BMW.
- He likes to go to amusement parks incognito and recently made the day of some very lucky fans when he was spotted with his assistant on a roller coaster at a local New York amusement park.
- He does not have a preference in toothpaste. He just uses whatever is on the counter. Ironically, he says he might even be a little allergic to toothpaste. Although he does use it on a regular basis, it seems to upset his tummy a little. :-D (Fab Fan Marlie that was for you.)
- He may have been a wee bit embarrassed by the baby pictures his mom sent to CTU. (Kay that's your cue to send more.) ;-D
If I had to describe Channing in a few words, I would say that he is down-to-earth to the Nth degree. If given more time, I would describe him with the following words:
- Absolutely in Love with Jenna (Can't stress that enough.)
- Absolutely Loves His Family
- Selective with Roles
- Not About Money
- Well-Loved by Everyone
- "Computerly" Challenged (but tries REALLY hard)
All of the things I listed above make Chan one of the most beautiful and fun people I have ever met. You should notice that I did not include anything about his physical looks on the lengthy list of attributes.
Now, I'm neither blind nor crazy, so don't get me wrong, 6'1'', green-eyed, and svelte Chan is every bit of gorgeous (and then some), but once you unwrap him a bit, you see him as so much more. And its that "so much more" that gives him the "it" factor that I hope keeps him around for a very long time both in front of and behind the camera.
I spent approximately 9 hours on set and I loved every second of it. It was really hard for me to leave at the end of the day. Upon my departure, Chan and B took a few more pictures of us on Chan's phone in the trailer. We walked outside where Chan gave me another big hug and thanked me for all of the work I do on the site. I walked back towards the subway very grateful for the amazing day I had.
I was very certain of one thing...I could not be more proud to run Chan's official site. I also can't wait to see what is on the horizon for this amazingly talented actor and absolutely fabulous person who I feel privileged to call a friend.
I didn't think it was possible for me to be a bigger Channing Tatum fan. After hundreds of articles and countless hours spent on the blog and supporting his fans, I can honestly say that my set visit made me adore him even more, and I hope that my fan story helps you do the same.
So now when people ask me if I've met Channing Tatum, I can finally say "Yes" and tell my own Fabulous Channing Tatum Fan story.
You can now check out all of the pictures with Chan on set and with fans from my trip to New York in the Channing Tatum Unwrapped Photo Gallery or you can also watch a video slideshow with many of the photos below.
P.S. Thanks again to Chan for inviting me to set and for everyone on set for treating me like I was one of the family. I can't thank you all enough for making the day so special for me.