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    Interview with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried


    With an unashamedly romantic comedy it's all about getting the tone right so you don't slide into melodrama, isn't it?

    Amanda: Lasse [Hallstrom, the director] is allergic to melodrama so he likes to do it very subtly. It's the same with me and Channing - we tend to play things very low-key and subtle so we didn't have to try very hard to stay away from melodrama.

    Channing: But as actors you're always afraid to go too far but Lasse wants you to go too far. [Once he has the take he likes] he wants you to do it wrong, to be over-the-top, and that's so freeing to be able to think 'Now I can try and be bad'. There's no pressure on you and you don't feel you can make a mistake.

    Had you read the book by Nicholas Sparks?

    Channing: I actually read the book first [before the script] and I just fell in love with the character of John. I knew of Nicholas Sparks from The Notebook and A Walk To Remember. I've think I've cried a hundred times at The Notebook. My wife cries and that makes me cry, and she makes me promise we're going to die in bed together. I'm like 'That's weird, I don't want to talk about that'. So I knew there was such a big audience for his stuff, for those unbelievable loves, and this was more of a relevant story - it's more contemporary. The Notebook was period and it kind of felt like this sweeping sort of thing, but this one felt more relatable.

    How was it working with Richard Jenkins?

    Channing: You can tap that guy for anything. He can come off the bench and give you anything you ask for in a character - comedy, heroics. He's one of the strongest and smartest people I've ever met. He helped me throughout the entire film and I don't even know if I can describe what it feels like to be in a scene with somebody who makes you better. He's so smart he manipulates you to be better. It's ridiculous.

    The film gives life to the lost art of letter writing. When was the last time you wrote a letter?

    Amanda: I wrote a letter three years ago in response to a letter that I found finally at Christmastime in my childhood bedroom. I don't know how it got there but it was the most beautiful letter. In a previous relationship we wrote letters [to each other]. We didn't live far from each other but we wrote letters from time to time. I keep that letter for good luck and to inspire me because it's an expression of love, and that's an art form.

    Channing: I don't know if I've ever written anything that's not a bill. I do write stories but I don't put a stamp on them. I wrote a story for my wife over Christmas and gave it to her as a present because she asked me to, but I don't put a stamp on things and send them to people. I wish I would do that more.

    Channing, did you talk to guys in the Special Forces about letters they wrote and received?

    Channing: Yeah. Most of the guys except for maybe three or four in our Special Forces unit were real Special Forces guys. They were guys from Fort Bragg who were actually teaching the Q Course, which is what people who are learning to be in the Special Forces have to go through. They talked to me about letters and it's like Christmas - they sit and they wait to get something and it's so much more than what's written, it represents someone you care for and it's something they touch, they wrote, they made. It smells like them, it smells like your house, it's so much more than 'Hey what's going on? The dog took a crap on the floor today'. It's not about that - it's home, it's tangible.

    Amanda, was it your first time in South Carolina and what did you like about it?

    Amanda: It was the first time I'd ever been in Charleston and I loved it because it was the first time I'd been able to love my work and have a great time with everybody because they all loved being there. There's an energy in Charleston that doesn't exist in the north or the west. The people were amazing and beautiful. It's old, it's very historic. I dream about it, there's still a house there I'd love to buy someday and fix up. If life were ever fantastic, that was it. Life in Charleston is a dream and you cannot have a life like that anywhere else.

    Channing: I was talking to a friend the other day about how American audiences love period pieces. We were trying to figure out why and I think it's because America doesn't have a lot of old things. It's a new country so I think we're a little bit fascinated by that. The fact Charleston is one of the oldest cities in America means it has something a lot of other towns and cities don't have. Here in London you look around and everywhere you see history, but we don't have that a lot.

    Amanda: And it's romantic. That's why it's so amazing being in a period movie because there's a romance about it that doesn't exist now.

    Amanda, some people might say Savannah acts quite unfairly towards John…

    Amanda: I absolutely feel the need to defend what she does [in terms of marrying for the sake of a child] because I would do the same thing. Judging from long conversations I'd had with people who have children, basically your life is so much more when a child is brought into it. You would do anything for them and that's what Savannah does. I think that she honestly felt she didn't have a choice. The choice was between a child and John and that's not really a choice. She was selfless that she sacrificed this crazy love. I'm not saying if you're fighting all the time and it's a horrible marriage you should stay together for the kid, but you should always think of the kid first. Savannah was thinking clearly and it was important for her to marry this guy in order to make sure the kid was going to be fine when his dad passed. It's very simple and I don't think anyone should be confused by it. When she gets mad at John for leaving her again she comes to a point where it's like 'Alright I get it, you have to do the job, it sucks but I'm willing to hold on', then something unexpected happens and you can't blame her for what she does. I totally get it.

    Channing: Everyone wants the happy ending but in real life you have to make decisions and sometimes you get painted into a corner.

    Channing, have you kept up the surfing?

    Channing: No I have not surfed at all because it is entirely too cold in California. I need it to be like bathwater. I'm from Florida and Alabama and it's warm water down there. I do enjoy surfing, though, and it's all me in the movie [in the surfing scenes].

    Did you do your own handwriting in the film?

    Channing: They wouldn't let me write anything because my handwriting is like a three-year-old's. And I would spell everything wrong.

    Amanda: Well, you're a guy! I matched my lady's handwriting. It was my hand, but I was mimicking it. It wasn't a stunt hand, although I did have that in a poster for one of my movies and it was so creepy I asked them to put normal hands on there. They were like alien hands and they so didn't match me. They were tanned and manicured and so nasty.

    What's the weirdest piece of fanmail you've had?

    Channing: I've never been sent a lock of hair or anything like that, but I've gotten underwear with my face on it. That was weird.

    Amanda: They weren't meant for you, they were meant for your wife.

    Channing: Is that why they were so tight? Just kidding.

    Amanda: People have written weird stuff, but my mum does all my fanmail so she goes through it and she's very efficient. It feels like team homework because she gives me stuff to sign and Fed-Exes it out.

    Channing: That's like the best job for a mum to have.

    Amanda: She loves it. She's like 'You got 14 pieces of mail today'.

    Channing, do you find straight drama more of a challenge than action films?

    Channing: I don't know if it's more of a challenge but I find it more exciting. I don't like doing action movies. They're not that interesting. It's fun to do the physical element but the really fun stuff, like running into exploding buildings, they won't let you do. There's too much money riding on you not getting hurt. But yes, there's something exhilarating in just sitting on a beach with somebody having a real conversation. There's something exhilarating about being open and honest [in a scene].

    Have you recovered from your legendary injury and do you wish you'd never mentioned it?

    Channing: No, I love talking about it. It's hilarious to me. My penis is great now, it's doing well. I burnt it very badly doing a movie [i]The Eagle Of The Ninth
    ]. I have a new iPhone so I don't have the pictures to show you, but luckily I'm all healed. It was horribly bad but I don't have any scarring, thank God, and there was no nerve damage. I'm back on top. [Laughs] Bad joke.

    Amanda, you just got an award for SoWest Breakthrough Female Star Of The Year at Las Vegas, which seems a bit odd a couple of years after Mamma Mia!

    Amanda: [Laughs] What did I actually break through anyway? I really don't understand what it is, although I heard a rumour it was really just for publicity. Apparently someone might have paid them to give me that award. I don't know if it's true or not and I'd like them to clarify it, but I guess it's still nice.

    You do have a lot of films coming out one after the other, so you must be keeping busy?

    Amanda: I was busy but they were done one after the other. Dear John was shot in 2008, Chloe was shot in 2009 and Letters To Juliet was shot at the end of 2009 so it was all pretty much in the span of a year. I'm not working at the moment.

    Channing, how was it being up in Scotland filming Eagle Of The Ninth?

    Channing: I've loved Kevin McDonald's movies for a while and it was an amazing experience because he really wanted to do something different. He wanted to make all the Romans American and venture off from making them that English-speaking villainous type thing. It was by far one of the hardest things I've ever done, to wake up every single day and know that you're going to be freezing cold and wet, every single day, ten times a day, and there's no getting away from it. It took about four months to shoot and it was just exhausting but also very gratifying. It's going to be some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see on film.  I think I had mild hypothermia for a while and Jamie Bell almost collapsed. I hope it's good. I think it's a little more commercial than Kevin is used to making.

    Amanda, you and Lasse share an Abba connection. Did that ever manifest itself on set?

    Amanda: Did it ever!

    Channing: Every single day. He'd be there on the computer on YouTube or his iPhone saying 'Hey have you seen my work?' That's what his favourite work is and you're like 'Yes Lasse I've seen [sings] Take A Chance On Me'.

    Amanda: He asked me in all seriousness to re-enact an Abba movie for publicity for the movie. I considered it. I said 'Maybe I'll write something and we can do it retro style', but I never wrote a song and I never tried to write a song [for the movie]. But we had such a good time. He's very playful and he loves ducks - not even live ducks but wooden ducks. He collects wooden ducks and he actually gave me one for my birthday.

    Channing: He gave me wooden duck clogs as a wedding present. Nothing more - just wooden clogs, and he only gave them to me, not even my wife.

    DEAR JOHN, out on Blu-ray and DVD on 23rd August, Momentum Pictures

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