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A Minute With: Channing Tatum taking on "The Eagle"

Channing Tatum, best known for his roles in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" and the romance "Dear John," ventures into the Roman Empire this Friday in the dramatic action feature "The Eagle."
/ Source: Reuters

Channing Tatum, best known for his roles in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" and the romance "Dear John," ventures into the Roman Empire this Friday in the dramatic action feature "The Eagle."

Based on Rosemary Sutcliff's novel "The Eagle of the Ninth," 30-year old Tatum plays Marcus Aquila, a soldier who seeks to restore his family's name and avenge the perceived disgrace his late father brought to the country.

With his slave Esca, played by Jamie Bell, he sets off on a perilous journey to find out what really happened.

The Alabama native spoke to Reuters about the film, why he decided to start his own production company and taking on a big-screen version of "21 Jump Street."

Q: "The Eagle" takes place in 2nd century Britain, an era you've not yet tackled in films. Is this a departure for you?

A: "Not so much because I've played soldiers before, but this is obviously period and I've only done contemporary stuff. I started in a more urban setting with movies like "Step Up" but to me this story was simply about honor. Marcus is wondering if his father was a coward or not. He is also dealing with the fact that his entire nation thinks his father was a laughing stock. That's a pretty intense thing to grow up with because a father is very big in a son's life."

Q: What have you learned about yourself from your father?

A: "I've learned from all his friends and from my mother that he was the tough guy in the neighborhood. And so I think my whole life I've tried to figure out, 'Am I a tough guy or not?' I've quickly figured out I'm not. (laughs)."

Q: The film was shot in Europe, primarily in Scotland. What did you do during your down time there?

A: "In the Highlands there was only one place to go to and that was the pub. The whole crew would go together. We became a family because we were in all these crazy places all together, in the rain, in the river. My wife (dancer/actress Jenna Dewan) came to visit during a week where it was a 35-minute hike to get to the set. She would make the hike every day with me."

Q: You, Jenna and some friends started a production company that just wrapped its inaugural film, "Ten Year." Why?

A: "One of the first roles I'd ever done -- 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' -- is also one of my favorites. It was such a tiny movie and not a lot of people saw it. But it was the first time I felt like a real actor. And that's one of the reasons why we're starting the production company. We want to try to get it back to that, to push the boundaries of what you can do, and stretch and grow."

Q: You are having plenty of success in studio films with the upcoming romance "The Vow," opposite Rachel McAdams, and "Haywire" with Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas. How does your production company aim to do different?

A: "Studios have to make what's working and they have very little margin for risk. I totally understand that, but I don't want to just succumb to that and be like, 'Okay, let's just make the new version of 'Bourne Identity.' I want to try to break through the lines and paint outside the box."

Q: You've signed up to star in a feature version of the 1980s TV show "21 Jump Street" opposite Jonah Hill.

A: "Oh it's going to be the new version, let me tell you! It is by far the craziest script that I have ever read in my entire life."

Q: This summer, you and Jenna will celebrate your two-year wedding anniversary. How's married life?

A: "It's helpful that Jenna is really ambitious right now as well. She's not letting up off the gas pedal either. So, we're both very goal oriented at the moment. We talk about family all the time. We're probably going to try to do it in the next couple years."