The movie 'Book of Life' narrates the story of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.
We spoke to Channing Tatum, the voice behind the character Joaquin in the film, about his experience of working on his first animation movie.
Q: What are the challenges in bringing a character to life with just your voice?
A: I guess just the letting go of, the responsibility of all of him, I guess. You just sort of let go and you really just trust your director, Jorge. He's the whole reason why I signed onto this. I mean, I didn't even read a script first. Jorge just said he wanted to come and pitch me a story. And instead, he told me two stories. He told me one very personal story that I won't share here but it moved me almost to tears. And then he told me the story of 'Book of Life' and I just thought—I was like, man, this is like punk rock and cool and I would love to go down this rabbit hole of—you know, there's no wrong answers when you're doing an animated movie. You can be like, "Blah-blah-blah-blah," and they'll use that. They'll just create something in the world that it fits and you don't know, it might be in the movie, so you just kind of let go.
Q: How was it immersing yourself in Mexican culture for the film? Because that's something we don't usually see in Hollywood - recognition of other cultures
A: Just an American kid from the South, I obviously didn't really know anything about the Mexican culture. And, I mean, this was an education. It is something that I am going to adopt into my own. I think the idea of life and then whatever comes after, the idea of when someone moves on to whatever is after, if the people that are still in this world treat them as if they're there and cook them their favorite meals or tell their stories, it's like as if they're there. They do exist. And I just think that's one of the most beautiful traditions that I've heard of.
Q: Manolo and Joaquin go through so many lengths to show Maria how much they care about her. Have you ever done anything similar to show how much you care?
A: Yeah, look, I mean, I'm married, so I try to do as much as I can of that stuff. I danced with my wife for an entire three months before we actually started to date. And, we've been together for almost ten years, so I'm sure I've done a lot of that stuff.
Q: You're a parent, and this was one of the themes in the movie. Parents sometimes push children to do things that they feel are in their child's best interest, but not actually. We want to know if you ever have experienced that, and if children are faced with that dilemma, what would you suggest, how would they handle that?
A: You know, communication is probably the greatest tool that you can use there and that's a hard thing to have, between a child and a parent. I'm a parent now and, she's still pretty young and I still feel so responsible and pretty much her only job is to get up every day and I just want her to eat. I'm just like, "Please, just eat." I'm not going to have a perfect answer for any of that stuff because I haven't quite made it to that part of my parenthood just yet. I think it's going to be a really interesting walk for me to have to take my—because I'm a very competitive person and I've got to take myself out of her life in that manner and try to just let her find her own way. Kids have to sort of learn that if they can't just hear that… How do you say? Like, they can't just hear that, you know, "You've got to do what you want to, not what they want you to do." They have to, like, really go and see if that's something that they want to do. You know, they shouldn't just want to do it because their parents did it or they shouldn't not want to do it because their parents want to do it. They should really go and maybe try to just explore it and it should be okay if they don't want to, you know, do something.
Q: So this being your first animated film, would you say, looking back on your whole career, that this has been your biggest challenge?
A: Look, animated movies are like vacations for actors because, you don't have to work 12 hours a day. On a live action movie set, you show up and you're generally there for about 12 to 15 hours. I get to show up in my sweats and Zoe jokes around, she's like, "I don't even brush my teeth when I go in. I just, like, go right in." And, you know, you sit in, like, a sound stage and there really aren't any wrong answers. When I say that, like, I could've done—I could've spoken French and he'd have been like, "Maybe that'll work. I don't know." We're not wasting time here, because we have enough. And, you know, it was play. It was a really playful thing. I would love to do it again. I really do, though, wish I could've been in the same room with, like, Diego and Zoe. That would've been a lot of fun.
The Book of Life premieres on Star Movies Select HD on January 23 at 9 pm.