In May of 2008, Paramount invited a few online outlets to the Downey, California set of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”. While I’ve been to many movie sets while working for Collider, the set for “G.I. Joe” was easily the biggest. That’s because Downey Studios houses one of the biggest soundstages in California and “G.I. Joe” was using most of it. On one end of the stage they had built a huge portion of The Pit, and on the other they had M.A.R.S. headquarters. While some soundstages feel intimate, on “Joe”, if you separated from your group, you could spend a long time trying to find them. It was a hell of a place to film the movie and a lot of fun to visit.
Anyway, while on set I got to participate in interviews with a lot of the cast and the interview you’re about to read is with Channing Tatum. During our interview, Channing talked about playing Duke, the relationships between all the other characters, filming the action, did he get to say ‘Yo Joe!’, and a lot more. Read it after the jump:
Question: What’s it like playing Duke?
Channing Tatum: Oh man. I don’t know who to explain it. It’s one of those things where you don’t really realize it until you look over and Snake Eyes is standing next to you.
You and Ray Park are actually friends right?
Channing: Yeah, we’re really close. He just came over to the house and he’s going to bring the kids. He’s one of the better guys that I’ve ever met in my life.
What’s your take on your character?
Channing: He’s a comic book character for one so he’s a little bit larger than life. He’s a normal guy and he’s just trying to figure it out and take care of his own. He’s trying to take care of his best friend Marlon [Wayans], he’s playing Ripcord. Me and Marlon have gotten really close too so it’s not that hard. I’ve got to take care of him and he’s older than I am so he’s like a big kid. He’s just a guy who gets it done and make sure that everyone is safe.
What’s the relationship like between Duke and Ripcord?
Channing: It’s actually less about us bickering back and forth. He’s just sort of a clown all the time. I’m always kind of like, “Rip come on. Figure it out.” And he’s always kind of messing with me. If I’m saving his life he’s complaining about how I’m saving his life. We’re not really bickering back and forth. He was pinned by a car one time and he’s like, “Can you be pinned next time?” He just complains constantly. That’s kind of Marlon as well.
I believe it’s through your character that we get introduced to the Joe universe so what’s that like for you?
Channing: It’s ridiculous. I’ve never imagined anything like this before in my life. I’ve only been on movies that last four or five weeks. This is almost like doing three movies in one. You don’t get to see where you’re actually at. You’re doing it on blue screens so I don’t really know how to explain. You just show up everyday and you don’t realize how big this thing is until you see the end product so I’m kind of not really living in that reality yet.
How do you like doing all of the action?
Channing: I think the girls get to do more action on this one than I do. I was very upset. They get this big fight with each other and I don’t get to do any of that. I get beat up a lot throughout the entire movie. I get my butt kicked.
Tell us a little about the scene that we’ve been watching you shoot?
Channing: We’re breaking out and I’m having to carry her through water. I had to drop her accidentally yesterday. Okay I didn’t have to. The one thing they told me not to do was drop her. They’re like, “Whatever you do, don’t drop her.” “No problem. I got it.” Boom! I just Supermanned it. I just rolled her out. She said she wasn’t hurt, but she’s a pretty tough girl. So we’re escaping from this sort of underwater lair.
She’s one of the bad guys, so let’s be honest here. You’re saving her because she’s hot right?
Channing: Pretty much. For the most part hot and I have to because it’s in the script. I have a girlfriend so I’m not going to say any of that out loud, but she’s really hot.
You have a scar on your face. How do you get that?
Channing: It’s a personal scar for Duke in general. He always had the scar in the cartoon and I’m not sure how much people know about the cartoon now days, but we’ve sort of adapted it for our own use. Sienna’s little brother dies. I don’t know if I’m giving away too much so I’m going to be vague. But, Sienna’s little brother dies, Rex. This is me when I’m trying to run into the building to save him. I actually send him in the building to do a mission and then the mission goes horribly awful and they call in an air strike way too early. He’s in there so I run in and there’s an explosion in my face and this is what I get.
So this is in the early days of GI Joe?
Channing: Yes, this is before the Baroness or Duke becomes the Duke that we all know. This is back when he first started in the military.
So does she go to the dark side because of his death?
Channing: Yeah. I won’t say how, but it’s not really voluntarily. She sort of ends up there and that’s what is really shocking to me. When I meet her for the first time I almost don’t recognize her, but it’s one of those reveals that it’s her.
Are we going to see power suits in the film?
Channing: Yes. You will see an accelerated suit. They call it accelerated suits. There’s that and liquid armor and a lot of other really cool stuff.
Do you get to say “Yo Joe?”
Channing: I actually do not get to say “Yo Joe” in this because up until the very end, I’m not really in the Joes yet. So this is a genesis story. I actually don’t get a lot of the coin phrases that are going to be dropped here and there. I’ll get them in the second one, but there’s a lot of them that are hilarious.
What’s been the favorite thing you’ve filmed so far?
Channing: We have an opening battle scene where everyone gets introduced in their characters and there’s flashbacks and stuff, but it’s really the beginning of the movie where the action starts. I got to run on this hill where tracers are going past my head and people are being blown up, things are getting blown up, I get blown up. It’s fun. In real life I would have been in a million pieces, but in GI Joe, I get flown through the air somehow and roll, I land and I keep running.
Is the live action what you envisioned it to be?
Channing: A lot of it, absolutely. Then a lot of it again is blue screen and it’s bigger than what any of us can imagine and they’re going to realize that later. It’s going to be a gift when we get it at the end when we all get to watch it. We get to see each other in person and we know the characters, but we don’t get to see some of the scenes. We get to be on these cool sets like on this really wicked submarine under water base type thing, but you don’t know what’s outside of it. We’re out in a studio in Downey which kind of takes the magic away, but when you get to see it you’ll hopefully forget about that. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
Where is your dance sequence going to be in the film?
Channing: (laughing) We’ll be teaching Snake Eyes how to robot.