In the vein of 1980s Cold War-era detective TV series, Comrade Detective is a gritty, action-packed and blood-soaked story that finds Romanian Detectives Gregor Anghel (played by Florin Piersic Jr. and dubbed by Channing Tatum, who is also an executive producer) and Iosef Baciu (played by Corneliu Ulici and dubbed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) investigating the murder of a fellow officer, which leads to the unraveling of a subversive plot to destroy their country.
During this phone interview with Collider, actors and friends Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joked about this rather unusual project, what inspired this idea, hearing their voices coming out of these Romanian actors, and why they almost felt bad dubbing over their great performances. They also talked about the R-rated musical comedy Wingmen, that they’re hoping to get into production.
CHANNING TATUM: Joe [Gordon-Levitt] just had to do this because he’s my friend. That was the pitch. “You’re my friend. Please come do this!” I was pitched by them awhile ago and this, as you can imagine, is a pretty insane idea and pitch. They started telling me about all the things that you loved, growing up in the 80s and 90s. All of the movies and TV shows, like Miami Vice, Die Hard and Rambo, all had Russian bad guys. And then, they’d let you in, behind the iron curtain, that they were making TV shows where Americans were the bad guys, and it gets a giggle out of you and immediately you’re intrigued. Then, they’d send you all these really weird videos that they’d been looking up online, and your YouTube feed is never the same after that. They’re actually really good TV shows, but they’re just different. That was it. That was just the first conversation, and it’s grown. We really wanted to use one of those other TV shows, that was a real Romanian cop show, but they wouldn’t let us, so we had to go make our own.
What was your reaction to hearing your voices coming out of these Romanian actors?
TATUM: I always hate hearing my voice.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: Whereas I love hearing my voice. That’s actually most of what I listen to. I record myself on my phone, and then I play it back. When I’m in the car, I’ll just listen to myself.
TATUM: It’s actually kind of odd. When you get in Joe’s car, he has re-recorded all of the popular songs that are on the radio, in his own voice, and they’re so much better. He’s as good as The Weeknd.
GORDON-LEVITT: I like The Weeknd!
Is it creepy or weird, at all, to have your voice coming out of other people?
GORDON-LEVITT: No, because it doesn’t actually look like it’s coming out of their mouths, so I wouldn’t say it’s creepy.
For people wondering exactly what Comrade Detective is and whether they should watch it, what would you say to convince them to watch a Romanian cop drama with your voice performances, but where they don’t actually get to see you guys?
TATUM: I don’t know. The show by itself, just in Romanian, is great. It’s a really, really, really good show. I hope Amazon puts it on, along with the dubbed version. That way, if you like Joe’s melodic, soothing, very full and resonant voice, you can tune in for the dubbed version, and if you love Romanian, you can just watch the Romanian.
GORDON-LEVITT: When I heard the idea, I thought it was going to be something more like just a straight up spoof, and I thought we were just going to come in and just be goofy. But then, when I actually watched what they made, it was a legitimately well-written cop show. The acting is great. The guy who I was dubbing over – the actor’s name is Corneliu Ulici – was really, really good, and here I was dubbing over him. I almost felt bad having to do it, but it was inspiring. It made me want to really bring my A-game.
Are you guys really directing an R-rated musical, called Wingmen, with you and Channing as pilots? Is that something that’s going to happen? Do you want to make that soon?
GORDON-LEVITT: Yes. We’re working on it, and we’re having a blast.
TATUM: I promise that I may or may not have sex with Joe, while we’re singing in this movie.
Comrade Detective is now streaming at Amazon Prime.