Sunday, August 16, 2009

FAN ENCOUNTERS: Lucky Fans Hang Out with Chan on the 'G.I. Joe' Press Tour and at LAX

Although I've probably had more than my fair share of run-ins with Channing Tatum, I'm not the only fan with encounter stories, and I really love to read the ones you all send me.

Today's Fab Fan Encounters were submitted by what I'll call a new fan, aka Goodcooker (from the CTU forum), and a well-established fan, Jirleymar, who met Chan on the recent 'G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra' press tour. Here's Jirleymar's story...

“My husband and I had the privilege to meet Channing on August 5th, 2009. We found out he was gonna be interviewing on Regis and Kelly so we drove to NYC the night before (we live in Delaware) to try and get in the show. Turns out we didn’t get it, I am so thankful because it worked out even better! We got more face time and I even got to take a picture with him after he came out of the show. What can I say, I am always gonna be on cloud 9 over this. What an amazing man! Besides being beautiful on the outside, he is so down to earth. Channing took the time to sign his autograph, take pictures and chit chat with everyone. God bless his family for raising such an amazing man. Inspite of being gorgeous and famous, he is humble and does not seem to consider himself better than any of us.

While Channing got into his SUV my husband gave him my card (I am a stylist) and told him if he ever comes to Delaware to let us know and that he had us as friends. Channing was thankful and shook my husbands hand (i was frozen out of excitement!) The only thing I said was “congratulations on your wedding!”…To sum up, this day I will never forget. Such an amazing experience to meet him and I hope to see him again someday. Hands down a beautiful man inside and out!”

Although Goodcooker didn't get a photo of Chan when they crossed paths on a Southwest flight from LAX on June 16th and oddly had never even seen one of Chan's movies prior to becoming a fan, I have to say that he captures one of the best mental pictures of Chan that I've ever read in any encounter, and I really want to thank him for sharing it in the CTU forum. Hopefully you'll enjoy his story as much as I did...

“Funny how things go. I wasn’t fully aware of Chan’s stature as an actor, but found myself spending a bit of time with him at the earlier today. He and I ran into each other standing in the security line at the Southwest terminal in LAX, and when both of us were figuring out which security station to go through, he let me go in front of him. Real nice guy. Of course, extremely good looking.

He was one of those very handsome guys that when seeing him, it makes me suck in my gut a bit, and thrust out my jaw to hide the second chin that has started to creep around my neck. You know, I’m the slightly insecure middle aged guy who has a great family and a job but who had also once hoped to be an actor, who sees a young kid, great smile, who has that ‘thing’ about him. Makes you wish you had that ‘thing’, but the only thing you seem to have is debt, flab, and a diminishing coolness that makes your daughter roll her eyes a whole lot more than you used to whenever you talk.

I start joking around a bit about the hassles of getting through security, having taken up five plastic bins between my shoes, sports coat, laptop, laptop bag, my other bag, etc. I had to stick the ticket and ID in my teeth while I grabbed everything else, saying stupid things which made him laugh. So when the security guard working the X-Ray machine hears him laugh and spots him, then says ‘I don’t care if they fire me’, stands up, comes around the machine and gives him a big hug (to his surprise), I figure something’s up.

Sitting down putting my shoes back on (ah, the hassles of getting through airport security), I asked a girl sitting next to me who he was. She told me he was “Chan… blah blah”. This wasn’t what she really said. This is just what I heard. The area was noisy, and my ears, even at 52 yrs of age, are not working as well as they used to. I let it go, and left for the gate.

When I reached the gate, I noticed him in the bar nearby having what appeared to be a light beer. He was also reading his Kindle (has the second gen version, not the latest larger format). I’m a Kindle user, and given our previous encounter at the security station, I did what a rarely do when I see a celebrity and approached him. I asked about his Kindle, and told him that although I didn’t know who he was, my daughter would kill me if I didn’t find out. He told me his name was Channing Tatum. Of course, no bells went off in my head. Who the hell is this guy? Sure, I watch a lot of films and television, and think I pay attention to a lot of it, but there are always those actors or actresses that slip through the mental cracks, whose films you just never got around to see, or almost watched, but something else came up.

He told me he was in the “Step Up” films, whose previews I’d seen, but never the films. Only recently, with my family’s love of the show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, we’d learned that Adam Shankman was making a 3D Step Up sequel, and I asked if he was involved in that, which he isn’t. Of course, he’s moved on from those films, but what the hell did I know? We talked a bit more, mostly about some of the films he’s been working on, but this time, a loud bar, and I only caught a few of the details. After a bit, I knew I’d outlived my welcome, so I wished him continued success and he graciously thanked me for that.

I finally boarded the plane and got a seat near the front, on the aisle. A few minutes later, he’s on the plane, and sits directly opposite of me. He didn’t notice that I was there until he sat down, and we laughed at the coincidence. What followed was an extended conversation about his work and views on what is going on in the film industry. He mentioned his work in GI Joe. I asked if he had ever worked with a “green screen”, which I assumed was needed for GI Joe. He said ‘no’ and commented on the challenges of interacting with people and things that are not actually there. He mimed a scene where he had to be shocked that someone was killed in front of him. I told him I’d take a part time job actually stabbing myself with a knife in front of him whenever he need any motivation to act shocked on screen. A joke of course, which yielded another warm laugh from him. We spent a good amount of time discussing the problem with making money on films today if they are not blockbuster Sci-Fi, horror or adult R rated comedies. Escapist fare. So many great films are bombing at the box office, and it doesn’t bode well for those actors who need great venues for expressing their acting talent within intimate dramas and independent films.

I asked if he thought that GI Joe, if a big hit, could catapult awareness of his talents to a broader audience than he’s ever had before. He wasn’t sure about that, and felt that he wanted to be more defined as an actor, and not just an action star. He knows his athletism helps him get roles that need that ability, but he really wants more chances to stretch his acting chops. When I told him that just based on our chat, I was going to visit Netflix when I got home and order all of his films, he laughed at that, and suggested if there was one film of him I should see, I should check out A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, which he feels is one of the best films he’s ever starred in.

He was extremely cordial with me, and was very engaged in our chat. He also seemed to respect my lack of awareness of his star power and popularity, and didn’t seem at all bothered by it. I kick myself now in retrospect, having arrived home and checked out his film history and credentials online, since he is clearly a bigger Hollywood presence than I had thought.

Our chat ended as the plane took off, and we went back to reading our respective Kindles. I was tempted to ask for a photo, or get an autograph, but I felt in a way that doing that would diminish the gift of what had transpired during our brief visit. My last words to him was another wish for his continued success, and although I have just returned home and will order my Channing Tatum/Netflix film festival in a few minutes, I’m already a huge fan of this gentleman.

Now, not having asked for the autograph, I suspect when I see my 12 year old daughter later today, she will wonder what the heck I was thinking (I assume she knows who he is). I may lose another level of ‘coolness’ with her, but so it goes. She’ll just have to touch my right hand, which vigorously shook Channing’s hand after our chat.

It hasn’t been washed yet…”

Big thanks to Jirleymar and Goodcooker for sending in the awesome stories and photo! If you happen to run into Channing Tatum or Jenna Dewan, send your photos and fan encounter stories to fanencounters@channingtatumunwrapped.com. I will post them on the blog to share with envious fans all around the globe! ;-)

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