Published: February 5, 2012
LOS ANGELES – It’s not quite Valentine’s Day, but Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are getting hot and heavy in a corner booth at the Four Seasons hotel.
Well, not quite.
McAdams, petite in a pair of high-waisted shorts and a scoop-necked Valentino top, is squished into a ball as a suited-up Tatum purrs into her ear: “If I was a puppy. And you bought me. I would jump. All. Over. You.”
McAdams can’t take it any more. “OK, OK!” she says, laughing. “So it doesn’t translate.” McAdams had just finished recapping her friend’s 4-year-old daughter’s first crush. “She was on a safari and she fell in love with her park ranger,” McAdams says. “And she turned to him and said, ‘If I was a puppy and you bought me, I would jump all over you.’ Is that the cutest, sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?”
Tatum obviously disagrees, but “there’s no line on the face of the planet that does actually work,” says the actor, who has been married to actress Jenna Dewan since 2009. “Come up, say ‘Hello, my name is Channing. What’s your name? What are you doing here? You want something to drink? Nice — what is that a necklace? Oh, you like vintage things?’ Have a conversation!”
A tragic love story
The art of wooing is on display in their movie, The Vow, but heart-wrenchingly so. McAdams plays Paige, a Chicago sculptor who loses five years of her memory after she and her musician husband, Leo (Tatum), are in a car crash. When Paige awakens, she reverts to the self she remembers, attending law school and clinging to a successful, straitlaced ex-boyfriend (Scott Speedman). Leo, now a stranger, tries desperately to win her back.
McAdams consulted with a neurosurgeon in preparing to play the confused Paige. “It was interesting finding out that people who have brain trauma, and the tape is erased and they’re not necessarily going to get those memories back, they will still find their way back kind of unconsciously (to) where they left off before the accident,” says McAdams, who also met with the woman who inspired the story.
It’s hardly this pair’s first time in tearjerker territory. Both have appeared in movies based on novels by Nicholas Sparks: McAdams in 2004’s The Notebook and Tatum in 2010’s Dear John. With big projects on the horizon — McAdams, 33, stars in Terrence Malick’s next untitled film, and Tatum, 31, stars in 21 Jump Street, this summer’s GI Joe sequel and male-stripper-focused flick Magic Mike— both say the unlikely story drew them in.
“I want to be able to even get better than (Dear John),” Tatum says, adding that until McAdams agreed to sign on, he was unsure. But, “then she found it and I came running to it.”
Director Michael Sucsy (HBO’s Grey Gardens) recalls Tatum winning McAdams over immediately on the set.
“I instinctively felt they would have chemistry,” Sucsy says. “During rehearsals I checked in with her and said, ‘So, what do you think?’ And she goes, ‘He’s really charming.’ ”
Romantic sides revealed
In person, the two actors are playful, with McAdams teasing Tatum about the beefcake promotional shots recently released for Magic Mike. “The bow ties on the beach,” she grins, brow arched. “Take us through that.”
In turn, Tatum helpfully recounts the pranks he pulled on The Vow’s set, from the prop he shocked McAdams with during a nude scene “to get a good reaction out of her,” he winks, to stealing her car after a late night of shooting.
“He’s the sweetest thing in the world until it comes to pranks, and then he’s terrifying,” McAdams says.
But ask about love, and moments that have meant most to them, and they become more introspective.
“I think my wife saying yes to being married,” Tatum says.
McAdams reveals she’s a romantic.
“I love finding the perfect gift for someone or doing things that show that you really know that person,” says McAdams, who has been dating actor Michael Sheen since the two worked on the Oscar-nominated film Midnight in Paris.
“There’s nothing better than being known by someone, and knowing someone else so well.”