Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Tahar Rahim, Kevin MacDonald and producer Duncan Kenworthy were recently in London to promote their latest film
The Eagle is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Tahar Rahim, Kevin MacDonald and producer Duncan Kenworthy talked to Beth Webb about the film.
The film looked very physically demanding and painful; did you warn the actors they were in for a tough time?
Kevin MacDonald: We deliberately didn’t tell them how horrible it would be otherwise they wouldn’t have come. Channing lives in LA so I don’t think he was expecting the turmoil of Scotland in the winter. Jamie knew what to expect I think.
How hard was it to obtain authenticity when filming?
Duncan Kentworth: Kevin and I wanted it to be as authentic as possible, not like Troy where it was all CGI, we wanted something closer to a Roman documentary. Because the book focuses on the physical environment CGI seemed to go against that.
Were you surprised by the physicality of it?
Channing Tatum: Yeah, even if they told me it’s the coldest thing you’ll ever endure in your life I still wouldn’t have understood it. Just to be outside for 13 hours like that, even the directors were carrying cameras to and from the set so we became a tight knit family. You kind of go through hell together and that’s what Jamie and my characters do.
Jamie Bell: I think these guys were very lucky having me and Channing leading the way because we’re both very good physically; we both have physical backgrounds, predominantly in dance. It was difficult with the horseriding, I’ve never ridden a horse before so that was a gamble and I had to learn from scratch.
Tahar Rahim: Having to wear the full make up for eight hours a day was hard work, your skin is getting red and you’re burning up. The cold was hard, but for me it was 18 days, for these guys it was months.
The rats that you have to chew on in the film, were they authentic for the sake of the film?
JB: I don’t know what it was that they gave us to eat, and I still don’t really know. I think they said that it was like gelatine like the Haribo treats, which was bullshit. That scene came on a day when it was just sheet rain, and it was like being submerged in water, and they thought this would be a great time to do it. It tasted like palmer violet.
Did you lose weight for your role as a slave?
JB: Nah I’m already pretty skinny so to lose any more weight would have been ridiculous, and we needed these characters to feel like they could take care of themselves. Obviously with Channing’s character he’s a trained warrior so we wanted to differentiate with Esca who is a very feral, wirey instinctual fighter.
How did shooting a live action film like this differ from the capture motion of Tintin?
JB: They’re two completely opposite methods of filming; one is technology one is nature. You would think that one would be more freeing than the other being in nature and having an open environment to interact in, but I find motion capture allows you to fill in the blanks and you can be more inventive. It was very strange to go from one grey room to the highlands of Scotland and interact with real animals and people.
What knowledge did you have of the source of material?
KM: I’d read the book when I was 11 and it had a big impact on me, something about the Roman’s in Scotland and because I’m from Scotland it captured my imagination. Then I heard Duncan had the rights to the book and that’s how we became involved.
Marcus and Esca are very close by the end of the film, was this something that happened naturally on set?
CT: It was kind of an unforeseen complication because Jamie and I did get on so well right off the back, so keeping the tension of the story going we had to keep reminding each other we weren’t supposed to get along .
Jamie do you think you’re role in Defiance helped with this part?
JB: I think the next time I’m in a film and it’s comfortable, it will be uncomfortable.
Channing, as American, did you learn about the Romans in school as it was sort of mandatory in Britain?
CT: Yeah it was, maybe not to the extent it is taught here though. History was my favourite subject in school because of the stories and characters and Gladiator was my favourite film so this helped me pay attention more. Kevin was great though he got me into the documentaries and gave me a lot of material to read up on that helped me sink into it.
Did you do all your stunts and were there any injuries?
CT: We did pretty much all of it except the river scenes, which they wouldn’t let us do. I definitely got hurt, I got scolded pretty bad.
TH: Aside from drowning not so much.
CT: I’m not kidding there’s a moment when I have to hold him under the water, and when you go under all air goes out of you and you’re just in shock. While he’s under water he’s supposed to tap me when he’s ready to come up, and he didn’t tap. I thought I’d killed him!
JB: I think when your lead actors have done this sort of thing many times before it requires you to really step up and … sorry (looks at Tatum) that really wasn’t intentional at all. I swear.
CT: Yeah right
JB: God sorry, but yeah we’re really competitive and that drove us through some of the harder parts of the filming, like who’s got the fastest horse, who can stay in the river longer. It’s childhood stuff.
Channing I heard the scold was on a rather sensitive area of your body and that there’s photographic evidence?
CT: Yes, Jamie has stolen it and he won’t give it back to me. Basically they were trying to keep us warm and this poor guy was running to and from the set with this bottle of water and he didn’t dilute the kettle water. Once it pours down you jerk your body away and so it ran down, and I so I had no skin down there to speak of. But we’re good now! Didn’t even scar!