'Dear John' Conference Call Transcript

Dear John Conference Call
January 26, 2010/11:30 a.m. PST

Channing Tatum
Amanda Seyfried


Moderator    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by.  Welcome to the Dear John conference call.  At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode.  We will conduct a question and answer session.  As a reminder this conference is being recorded.  I will now turn the conference over to your hosts, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.

We have our first question from Bret Love.  Please go ahead.

B. Love    I have to start off with Amanda.  Amanda, I actually work for Amtrak and they go into Philly, and I know you’re from Allentown.  I have a two parter.  I just was curious what are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Allentown?

A. Seyfried    …Park, I was a season pass holder for four years, that was my whole adolescent ….  Civic Theatre, I grew up going to a few classes there.  Obviously that’s where my love for acting flourished.  Trecsler Park, I still go back there and run every time I’m home.  It’s beautiful.  It sometimes feel smaller every time I go back because I live in cities now.

B. Love    Can you talk to me a little bit, I know you started modeling there, how do you think your career in Allentown prepared you for when you moved to New York and started working with the …Agency and stuff like that?

A. Seyfried    I don’t know.  There wasn’t much work to be had here modeling wise.  I guess I learned a lot about the business of modeling, so I wasn’t really so surprised with everything.  It prepared my mom more than it prepared me.  She knew what to expect and she didn’t really hold my hand through it.  She just supported me and was my guardian for a while.

Moderator    Our next question is from Jessica Paul with the University of North Texas.  Please go ahead.

J. Paul    I have a question for Channing specifically.  How was preparing physically for this role different than other films in the past, like GI Joe and Step Up?

C. Tatum    I think this film in general, I have a lot more—just in general kind of relation to it, I read the book and there’s a lot of emotion in the film.  You knew that we were going to digging our fingers down into it.  GI Joe, there’s not a lot of emotion.  It’s a lot of explosions and stuff and it was a great change of pace to just to get to sit on a beach with somebody and actually look them in the eye and have a real conversation.  So we did a lot of preparation.  We had about two weeks to sit and rehearse and just really hang out with each other and get into the vibe of South Carolina in general, which is just beautiful, Charleston is such a romantic city, and just be with each other.

J. Paul    I know this movie is young love.  How do you think this relates to college students?  I know there’s a growing popularity of couples getting married earlier.  Do you think this will identify with people?

C. Tatum    I hope so.  I do, I really do.  I think that this is about that first love that you have.  I hope people think of their first loves.  It’s really important once you find someone that you care about to really take care of them and hold on to them as hard as you possibly can.  I think in a society today with over a 50% divorce rate, it’s rare to find love and to make it work.

A. Seyfried    Yes, especially that young.

C. Tatum    Especially that young.

A. Seyfried    College aged kids are finding each other and it’s that whole challenge of actually realizing that this is really the person that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.  In our story, they met that young and it happens and it’s realistic and so that love can thrive if you let it.

Moderator    Our next question is from Mike Wilson from USF Oracle.  Please go ahead.

M. Wilson    Now obviously this is a love story and obviously the chemistry is going to be phenomenal between you two to really make viewers believe that you two are in love.  Now how was your chemistry on the set?  Did you guys get along?  Did you have any problems?

A. Seyfried    The only problems were really just looking behind our backs, making sure that none of us were coming around to cause trouble.

C. Tatum    I like to play some pranks on set to keep things interesting.  But I think it was a real miracle that we actually got anything done especially with Lasse as the director and he loves to just play around.  I really don’t know how we got anything done because he’s crazy and if you let us we’ll just play all day.

M. Wilson    What kind of practical jokes did you play?

C. Tatum    None I could probably say on the air.  They were harmless.  They were nothing too bad, but I don’t think I can say very many of them on—

A. Seyfried    Yes, we would get in trouble.

Moderator    Our next question is from Vanessa Dejesus from Columbia University.  Please go ahead.

V. Dejesus    I actually have a question for both of you.  I find myself relating to this story a lot because I’m actually engaged to my boyfriend who is in the Army and I’m in college, so I’ve been through a similar situation.  My question is, you guys are both playing pretty important roles that are representative of what many couples are going through with the war in Iraq and everything, so how do you guys feel about playing these roles and how these roles have had an impact on you?

C. Tatum    It for sure had an impact on me.  This is my third soldier role now.  GI Joe was more of Star Wars.  It was Star Wars and X Men.  It really wasn’t a representation of a real soldier in real life, but Stop Loss was and I’ve gotten to know a lot of soldiers and some of them are my best friends now.  It’s in no way shape or form in my head at all that what I do makes me understand a soldier because I don’t think me or anybody else that is not in the armed forces will ever know what it’s like to be a soldier.  Is your boyfriend deployed?

V. Dejesus    No, not currently.  He’s actually stationed close by in Jersey right now, so I’m lucky.

A. Seyfried    … appreciation for soldiers to begin with, and now I really appreciate the sacrifices they are making and also leaving their loved ones as well.  That’s a whole other story.  Not only are you risking your life, but you’re risking what you have here in the States.  I think it’s big of both of you for trying to make it work, no matter where he goes, you’re getting married, so it’s big commitment.  I think it’s a beautiful thing because you know it’s real.

C. Tatum    Talking to those soldiers, I’m surrounded by SF guys, special forces.  In talking to them, that was one of the things that they said, it’s just the patience and the knowing that you’re going to go back.  You’re surrounded by danger, but you try not to think about that.  You just keep thinking I get to go back in two months and three months and four months or however long it is.  And just getting anything in the mail just makes your day.  I can’t imagine being away from the person I love for that long.  Two weeks is ridiculously long and it’s painful.  I seriously am awed by people that do it, especially yourselves, I do.  I love what soldiers do and I obviously didn’t go into the military, so I don’t think I could do it.

Moderator    Our next question is from Jennifer Holton of Cleveland.  Please go ahead.

J. Holton    This question goes for either of you guys.  Have you ever received a Dear John letter of any sort or just a love letter in general?

A. Seyfried    A love letter, not Dear John.  Have you?

C. Tatum    No.

A. Seyfried    I got a love letter that’s like something I still keep really near and dear.  It was the most romantic thing anyone’s ever written to me.  It’s from an old boyfriend and I still read it and I feel like a princess when I read it because someone went through all the effort to write it.  It’s amazing.
C. Tatum    I think I’ve gotten love letters and stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a Dear John letter. I’ve been broken up with after I got off the bus stop at school, I think a girl stuck her head out the window and just broke up with me.  But I’ve never gotten a letter, though.

J. Holton    Amanda, did that type of love letter inspire you in the film just to feel that sort of passion for a person?  Did that help you?

A. Seyfried    Of course.  I’ve had such good experiences in my life with my partners that I can connect to each and every one.  I can remember back to the times when I really felt loved and reflect that in the film.  It’s pretty amazing.  Everything has inspired me and influenced me in my life, yes, I’ve just been really lucky.

C. Tatum    I think if you haven’t written, guys, especially, guys, listen, if you haven’t written a love letter in a long time, you don’t have to sit and mail it.  You don’t have to do anything, just write whoever your loved one is, write her something and you’ll be amazed at the reaction…..

Moderator    Our next question is from Kelly Kates, the University News.  Please go ahead.

K. Kates    You almost have me in tears over here.  I’m such a little love … now.  I have a husband and we went through something also very similar to that and were away from each other for eight years and wrote love letters and all that good stuff.  And it was hard, but it was well worth it.  So my question reflects that.  In the real world, do you feel that this type of romance and this type of love can really work out the way that the film has portrayed it or I think the film has portrayed it, especially over such a long span of time?

A. Seyfried    It’s hard to connect, when you have that much time away from somebody, it’s hard to stay connected in each other’s lives.  So that’s one thing that you’re really fighting.  If you lose that battle, I still think that if it’s meant to be, it’s going to come back to you.  Love is just like that all the time.  I definitely think there’s that one person in the world for everybody.  It’s completely possible.

C. Tatum    I think you can make work whatever you really, really want to make work.  I think it gets painful and it’s really funny, the person not being there, what it does to you.  You start fighting over stupid things that it’s not about.  All of a sudden, you’re having an argument about nothing and it’s really just that you miss the person so much.  I absolutely think these relationships can work.  You just have to really want it and you can’t just give up on them.

K. Kates    That’s exactly how I feel.  That’s awesome.  Thank you, guys.

Moderator    We have a question from Layne Lynch, the Daily Texan.  Please go ahead.

L. Lynch    One actor in particular, Richard Jenkins, who’s a very talented actor, one of my favorites is in the film, what in particular did each of you learn from him?

C. Tatum    He’s such a giving actor.  I think that’s one of the things I learned from him.  He takes it so serious and he came in and wrote some of his scenes just off the character that was in the book.  He knew his character was in love with … and he came in with so much character study and really, really, really took the character to the next level.

I think I do a scene with him in the hospital and I think I owe that entire scene to him because it’s a very emotional scene.  I haven’t really had a lot of experiences with those in my career.  He was just so there for me.  I don’t really know how to explain that one.  If you haven’t acted, it’s a little bit hard to explain.  You’re just kind of there sometimes and you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.  And then you look across from you and you have someone that’s completely there for you.  It’s such a confidence builder.  You really feel like somebody really cares.  They make it real for you just because it’s a real conversation between two people, not to mention he’s an Academy Award winning…of an actor.

L. Lynch    Same with you, Amanda?

A. Seyfried    Yes, it’s funny, sometimes you get lost when you’re working with somebody like that.  ….He knew a lot about … and he’s really funny, too.  He was really, really charming about his character and he has…too.  So I forget sometimes that I was in a scene when he was explaining these … because I was really listening and he was really just telling me.  It was just as real as it can get.  It’s pretty.  It does blow my mind working with people like that.

Moderator    Our next question is from Francesca Winters, Emery Wheel. Please go ahead.

F. Winters    I haven’t personally read the book, but I have quite a few friends who have.  They pretty much all unanimously told me that they were either disappointed or frustrated with the book’s ending.  I know, Channing, you mentioned that you read the book.   I’m curious just to see how you guys felt about the end and if you think audiences will feel fulfilled at the end of the film.

C. Tatum    Yes, I absolutely think …I’m very, very satisfied with the end of the film.  We as a unit on the movie, we talked about it a lot.  It’s just really real, I think, the movie.  It’s a little different than a lot of his other books.  I think it has a little more bite to it and maybe just because the content matter is very relevant right now, it’s very, very prevalent.  It’s about what’s happening right now, the 9-11 of it all.  I don’t want to give any too much in the movie, but I think that people should—it should make them think.  It should make them think about the people that are in their lives and are they really telling them enough everyday that they love them.  I think we’ve done the ending of the movie in a way that doesn’t change the book and we give you a little more hope than maybe the book might have had.

Moderator    A question now from Stacy Hinojosa from JSYK.com.  Please go ahead.

S. Hinojosa    Our audience is a little bit younger than college age.  Actually, our readers are around 13 to 17.  My question, one for Channing, have you ever kissed anyone outside while it’s raining in real life?

C. Tatum    I’m from Florida and it rains pretty much all the time, so yes, I did for sure.  Everyday after school, it’s 2:30, 3 o’clock, it’s raining, so absolutely.

S. Hinojosa    Do you have a favorite chick flick?

C. Tatum    Favorite chick flick, man, that’s a good question.  I think I saw this movie with my mom and my sister when I was really young.  I don’t know if it’s so much a chick flick, but it’s the first one that popped in my head, Fried Green Tomatoes.  It’s one of my favorite chick flicks.

S. Hinojosa    Amanda, can you tell us about your first teenaged relationship?

A. Seyfried    Yes, it was with a boy who I was obsessed with in a way because I thought he was a cross between Leo Dicaprio and Justin Timberlake in my eyes when I was 14.  He was a senior and I was a freshman and he wanted to date me.  He was a friend of my sister and he found some weird sophistication that he thought I had that my friends didn’t.  So we dated and I totally couldn’t deal with the fact that he liked me so much, so I dumped him like three months later.  It was very strange because we’d go out to movies and we’d hang out, but I didn’t feel like I deserved to be loved the way he loved me.  It was just teenaged insecurity and I lost a good one because he’s a great guy still and I thought he was just so sweet on taking the chance with somebody younger.  He was about 17.

Moderator    Next we have Meredith Wish, Simmons College.  Please go ahead.

M. Wish    I have a two part question for both of you.  How did you both prepare for these roles?  Did you talk to anyone with a significant other in the Army by any chance?

C. Tatum    Did I speak to anyone specifically in the Army?

M. Wish     Or to see someone who’s actually going through this.

C. Tatum    The SF guys that were surrounding that was in my unit, they are all in relationships.  A couple of them are married.   They have to go through it every time they get deployed or even when they’re at home.   They have responsibilities.  It’s a different life being a soldier’s wife or girlfriend.  You have to endure a lot.  I in no way, shape or form can say that I understand it totally, because I don’t know if I could do that.  I…maybe at max three weeks away from my loved one and I admire them.  I just really still to this day when I talk to them and they say they have to go away for six months at a time, seven months and eight months, you don’t know sometimes where they are.  They can’t say where they are or far away they are from home.

A. Seyfried    Just disconnect.

C. Tatum    Yes, I don’t know.  It absolutely blows my mind.

M. Wish    How about you, Amanda, did you, like a wife or a girl—

A. Seyfried    I recently just met a bunch of women that are literally just hanging and waiting.  We were just at Fort Bragg.  About 100 families there, wives in particular that were telling me how their husband or fiancé had just been deployed and it’s tough.  I really can’t say I understand because I would never.  I’m not that brave to go without that connection for that long, but they trust that these are the people that they are meant to be with, so they’ll do anything.  They’ll wait forever for somebody.  I think that’s so beautiful and brave.  I respect them so much.

M. Wish    The second part of my question is, let’s say you two were both the directors to this film, would you keep the ending the same or would you change it to make it happier?

A. Seyfried    I’d make it happier.  I was so depressed after I saw the first cut of that film.  There needs to be some kind of—

C. Tatum    Have you guys seen the film?

M. Wish    I’ve seen little bits and pieces.

C. Tatum    Okay, I wasn’t sure who’s seen it and who hasn’t.  I think we did a very, very—we had talked a lot about the end of the movie and how do it.  The book is, it’s a little sad at the end, but they leave it open ended in a way.  We just, I think, took it a little step farther and added a little more hope at the end.  But I think if I was the director, that’s probably exactly what I would have done.  You don’t know what’s going to happen 20 years down the road, so we changed it a little bit, but we didn’t change the book.  We added another page.

Moderator    Next we have Anna Williams, Tufts University.  Please go ahead.

A. Williams    My question is obviously you’ve had a lot diverse roles in your career.  I want to know what kinds of goals do you set when you’re choosing a new project to work on?

A. Seyfried    It always has to be something different than the last one.

C. Tatum    You try every time that you read a script, you want to push yourself.  You want to stretch and do something different.  It’s kind of hard because as soon as you do a movie, if someone did a dance movie, every single movie on the planet gets sent to you.  You’re like, gosh, I can’t do dance movies the rest of my career.  Or if you do an action movie, anything that says and he jumps or he punches or he kicks, that immediately comes your way.  It’s a little disappointing because you want to be able to try different things and I’ve been really blessed in my career to have that opportunity.

A. Williams    Do you guys feel like there’s one specific ideal role that you’d really like to play?
C. Tatum    Oh, man, I kind of want to play a villain.  I haven’t played a villain yet and I want to go down that dark road and see what happens.

A. Seyfried    ….somebody who is the antagonist role.  You’ve got to really want the audience to hate you, and also, I….period movies.  I would love to do something that’s set in a time that I just don’t understand.  That would be really amazing.

Moderator    We have a question from Kevin Finnegan, Suffolk Voice.  Please go ahead.

K. Finnegan    I was wondering, there’s a lot of romantic movies nowadays are written by the same guys who wrote Dear John, like The Notebook and all that.  Do you think that’s over-saturating the market at all or are the movies different enough that they’ll still be accepted?

A. Seyfried    Ours is at least different enough.

C. Tatum    I think ours is definitely different.  I don’t know if it’s over-saturated at all because when The Notebook came out, people were running to see that movie because I think there’s a real lack of movies like that.

A. Seyfried    There was an inspiration in that we don’t get in most movies.  I know Avatar is a huge blockbuster and everyone wants to see it and everyone is inspired by that, but that is unique.  I know obviously it’s in theatres today, but that is just a really unique film and it brings so much inspiration.  I think this is the type of movie that normally does and isn’t out enough.

K. Finnegan    Channing, any word on maybe like a GI Joe sequel or anything?

C. Tatum    Yes, they picked new writers, so the writers are starting to write.  I’m hoping, I’ve heard and I’m hoping that they’re scheduling it for 2011.  It’s the writers of Zombie Land, so we got some good writers this time.  Last time we had to write the script, they wrote the script under a lot of pressure because there was the writers’ strike and the actors’ strike was coming up and it was really rushed.  I hope that we can just take our time a little bit and get it right.

Moderator    We have a question from Maggie Pehanick, Dailey Aztec News.  Please go ahead.

M. Pehanick    Obviously, The Notebook has a really big fan following. I’m just wondering if either of you talked to Rachel McAdams or Ryan Gosling about the kinds of fans you’ll probably be encountering after doing a Nicholas Sparks’ film?

A. Seyfried    No.

C. Tatum    No, I wish I had.  I love Ryan as an actor, but I’ve never met him.  I don’t get out much.

M. Pehanick    Also, were both of you on board with the script as soon as you read it, or did it take come convincing?

C. Tatum    I was actually on the movie before it had a script.  So I read the book, so I knew exactly what happened when I saw The Notebook.  My wife looked up at me and literally just bawling her eyes out and made me promise that we’re both going to die in bed together at the exact same time.  So I knew what that did as a movie to go in—look, I’m not going to say I wasn’t emotionally moved, either.  It just is a great film.  So I read, and it did, like I said, it just seemed to have a little more grit to it than some of his other novels that have been turned into movies.  So I was really interested.

And then I met with the producers and we started meeting with writers and got to me on a very rare thing in Hollywood for an actor especially is to be on the full creative side of it from the beginning.  We got to read and meet all these different writers and their pitches for it.  You get to do that and you pick one and you get to go through all the different drafts and gives notes and then you hope to pick a great director and we got Lasse Hedström, so I’ve been on it for a long time…three or four years or so.

M. Pehanick    Okay, so you preceded it, and what about you, Amanda?

A. Seyfried    It was already written when I—I had to audition a couple of times, but it was pretty clear to me it was what I wanted to do…..I knew …it was all Lasse’s work just from growing up and watching great movies.  The story was real.  It was little bit different.  It was darker and I like the character a lot more than …I still hadn’t read the book.  It was really well written.

Moderator    Next is Grant Wallace, the West Georgian.  Please go ahead.

G. Wallace    So, Amanda, I just have congrats on that Golden Globe nomination for best television drama with Big Love.
A. Seyfried    Thanks.

G. Wallace    But I recently was snooping around and realized you are not doing that anymore.

A. Seyfried    Yes, I was working on it for six years and I really wanted to move back to New York.

G. Wallace    Okay, what are the plans now, then?

A. Seyfried    Well, we only shot for about five months and I was only working once or twice a week, so just the plan is to keep working on films for a while.

G. Wallace    Okay, so there’s nothing with television.  It’s just going to be strictly with films.

A. Seyfried    I’m definitely planning on going back to Big Love next year, just not in every episode.  ….

G. Wallace    Wow, I thought there was going to be more to that question.  That’s all I had planned.

A. Seyfried    Sorry.  I can tell you a lot about it.  What do you want to know?  Do you want to know anything about it?

G. Wallace    Anything cool or fun that you’d like to say.

A. Seyfried    Okay, I’m dating three different people on the show.  I don’t know, I love that show.  I can’t say anything about it that’s really bad.

G. Wallace    Hey, how about this, how do you feel about that?  Would you be comfortable dating three different people in real life?

A. Seyfried    No.  Yes, kind of, it would be fun.  Here’s why.  My boyfriend is always away and I get lonely.  It would be nice to someone fill in for him, but that’s really not natural….about it.  It is justified on the show, though, but I don’t think I could actually date three men at the same time.  I think that would just be mean.

G. Wallace    That would be wild, I agree.

A. Seyfried    ….you have to prove your love to one person, that’s enough.
W    We have time for one more question.

Moderator    Our final question will be from Kristie La, Harvard Crimson.  Please go ahead.

K. La    The plot of the book and movie has a significant precedent, a love story unfurling against the backdrop of a war.  What makes Dear John stand out against this genre of romantic war drama?

C. Tatum    I think it’s just about—I hope that people don’t think that it’s about war.  I really don’t want people thinking that they’re going to go in and have another depressing war movie on their hands.  We tried to take as much of the military and we didn’t want to see John with a weapon on all the time and slogging through really dangerous places.  Yes, that is what happened in the book and in the movie, but we really just wanted it to be about two kids falling in love.

A. Seyfried    Yes, it’s a character study of the two of them and how they dealt the fact that they were in love and they couldn’t control their environment at all.

C. Tatum    Yes, I think we could have taken John out of the military and made him anything else.  As long as that distance and time was between them and things come down the road that they don’t expect.  I just really don’t want people thinking this is some war drama.  I don’t.  This is a love story between two kids in love for the very first time and it’s that first love that you can’t get right.  It’s so hard to get that right.  Yes, they’re just trying to learn, trying to figure out life.

Moderator    That does conclude our questions for today.  I’ll turn it over to your host.

A. Seyfried    Thank you.

W    Thank you.

C. Tatum    Thank you.

Moderator    Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today.  Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference.

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