Channing Tatum is used to taking a beating on-screen — just look at "G.I. Joe" or "Fighting" — but he's lucky he didn't end up in the E.R. during the shoot for "Foxcatcher," which premiered to stellar reviews at the Cannes Film Festival this week. At a lunch with reporters on Tuesday on the Croisette, Tatum recalled the numerous injuries he sustained while playing professional wrestler Mark Schultz.
"I'm pretty sure I broke my hand in the movie in the training," says Tatum, who competed on-screen with real-life athletes. "You're just throwing bodies around and you get caught in different angles."
During an especially rough scene, he asked Mark Ruffalo, who plays his brother (Olympian wrestler David Schultz), "to just slap the sh-- out of me and get it over with," Tatum recalls. Ruffalo obliged, but accidentally clipped Tatum's ear. "He pops my eardrum," Tatum says. "All of a sudden it's just making a screeching noise. I can't hear anything." The grimace Tatum makes on camera isn't part of his performance. "Eardrums heal, so I'm fine."
Another bad scrape came during a pivotal moment when Mark loses his cool and slams his head into a mirror, breaking shards of glass everywhere. Tatum says he was so caught up in the moment, he banged the prop too hard. "I went through the wall on the other side," he says. "I missed the stud by about four inches. I was lucky. But the cut on my head was real."
Tatum met and spent some time with the man he plays, which was no walk in the park. When his wife Jenna Dewan Tatum visited the film's set, pregnant with their first child, she was so taken back by the somber mood, she cut her trip short. "This is not fun at all," she told him. "This is an emotional place." The drama, directed by Bennett Miller, takes a dark turn in the final act, based on true events.
"Wrestling is an intimate thing," Tatum adds. "It's weird from an outsider's perspective. 'It's very homosexual' — I've gotten that a lot. I always say just come on and try it out, you'll realize how non-homosexual it is. It's too painful and violent."
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics