Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell Begin Shooting THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH with Mark Strong and Donald Sutherland

     August 24, 2009


Principal photography got under way today on “The Eagle and the Ninth”, the Roman period drama starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.  The film, based on the young adult novel by Rosemary Sutcliff, is being directed by Kevin MacDonald for Focus Features.  In addition to Tatum and Bell, MacDonald recently added two more big names to his “Eagle” cast – Mark Strong and Donald Sutherland.  All the details after the jump.

channing_tatum.jpgWhen Steve spoke to Channing Tatum a couple weeks back at the premiere of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” the Real American hero was already looking forward to his next feature film – “The Eagle of the Ninth”.  Tatum said that the film would take place in the second century AD and that he was set to start shooting in August.  And according to the press release we just received, the man was spot on about that start date!

Directed by Academy Award winner Kevin MacDonald (“The Last King of Scotland”), “Eagle” stars Tatum as Marcus, a Roman soldier on a quest to learn the fate of Rome’s Ninth Legion.  The entire regiment disappeared years earlier on a mission to the wilds of Scotland.

Also in on the quest is the soldier’s trusty Celtic slave Esca (Bell), an ex-soldier named Guern (Mark Strong) who holds “crucial information” and Marcus’s uncle Aquila (Donald Sutherland) who has retired to Britain after a long career in service to his empire.

Even if, like me, you have yet to be convinced that Channing Tatum deserves to carry his own (non-boxing or dance-related) feature film, you can’t argue that MacDonald is a gifted director who has thoughtfully provided the erstwhile “G.I. Joe” with a top-notch supporting cast.  And who knows?  Maybe the whole film will culminate with a big dance-off at Hadrian’s Wall?  It could happen…

MacDonald and cast are shooting entirely onlocation, with hungary standing in for Ancient Rome and Scotland standing in for… Scotland.  Here’s the synopsis that Focus features thoughtfully included with their press release:

“The Eagle of the Ninth” is set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila (played by Mr. Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Mr. Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia – to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory, and retrieve the lost legion’s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth.”

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