Channing Tatum and James Corden lend their voices to the new animated movie Smallfoot, about a yeti who meets a human for the first time, and tell Laura Harding about throwing themselves into their roles.
You might think Channing Tatum has been in a lot of films.
You might think they include big hits such as Magic Mike, The Hateful Eight and Kingsman 2.
But if you ask his five-year-old daughter Everly, he has only been in one, and it is his latest animated project Smallfoot.
“I am leaving the stuffed animal around the house just to try and be a little cooler to her,” the 38-year-old confides. “So this is a big thing for me.”
In the film, Tatum lends his voice to Migo, a bright young yeti who stumbles upon something he previously believed did not exist – a human – and who discovers there is a world beyond his snowy village at the top of a mountain above the clouds.
“I absolutely will do as many animated movies as I possibly can now,” Tatum enthuses.
“They are fun but they also have such good hearts. You tell stories for tons of different reasons and I think there’s almost no better reason to make a movie than to help grow a young child’s mind or heart.”
The film gave the actor the chance to show off his goofiest side and offered him a freedom to do anything he wanted.
“You can almost do literally anything and sometimes it works and comedy is very much like that,” he says, “You have got to just throw it and see what happens and not be afraid of being a complete fool.
“And that was Migo. He is pretty out there as a character and being able to find my voice in Migo, it’s a subtle difference. It’s still me but it’s more of a sort of goofy, optimistic me.”
He compares the film to some of the famous Looney Tunes shorts and the freefalls from impossible heights and thudding boulders pay homage to the classic cartoons.
“One of my favourite things about this movie is it’s such a throwback to those classics,” Tatum says. “There’s a lot of physical comedy. These yetis are just so huge, they’re indestructible, yet they’re vulnerable in a small, funny way.
“Migo pricks his toe and a tiny bubble of blood comes out and he reacts like he just lost an arm. And there’s a goat that screams.
“He just screams no matter what happens, and he doesn’t have any other facial expression; just deadpan and panic. I will laugh at that forever.”
But seeing the human, known as the smallfoot of the title, also causes major drama for Migo, who has been told all his life that they do not exist.
“The yetis run their lives by a series of laws that have been around forever,” Tatum says.
“One of them states there’s no such thing as a smallfoot, so when Migo tries to tell everyone about finding the plane and the smallfoot, he is told that what he experienced is just not possible.
“Migo was content following the rules and had no complaints. He wasn’t looking to stir up trouble.
“But he gets pushed out of the nest, in a way, and what he finds is that there’s real beauty in discovery and so much to learn. After that, it’s impossible to go back.”
The human Migo discovers is Percy, the host of an wildlife TV show who is desperate to boost his ailing ratings and who is voiced by none other than James Corden.
Now a parent to three children of his own, the British star is also excited to make films that he can show to his family.
“I consider it a real privilege to be able to go home to them – so much of their lives you are often trying to shield them from a lot of what your life may or may not be at certain times.
“Some of the work that you might be doing is the stuff that, if it holds up, they will watch it when they’re older.
“But it’s a wonderful thing as a parent to come home and go, ‘Hi guys, I have done a little bit in this and I would love to show it to you before it’s in the cinema’.
“And it’s a great thing and they really enjoy it and that’s a wonderful reason to make anything if it will put a smile on their faces.”
Migo and Percy’s failure to communicate is one of the scenes in the film likely to put grins on their faces.
To Percy, Migo’s chat sounds like ferocious roars, while to Migo, Percy’s voice sounds like unintelligible squeaks.
For Corden, 40, it reminded him of talking to his youngest daughter Charlotte, who was born in December 2017.
“When you think about it, people communicate with animals all the time.
“I have a baby, and when I talk to her she just looks at me like I’m a madman. Somehow, we find a way to communicate and this is no different.
“Percy meeting the yetis is no different than the first time in history anyone set foot on the soil of another country. Human or animal, you’ll find a way.”
What is different is Percy’s plan to create a viral video of a yeti that could give him the fame and glory he craves and save his show which is facing the axe.
But Corden says that he approached the role with understanding: “When you don’t have a framework of family and friends, you can lose sight of what matters.
“Percy is completely lacking in self-awareness. He’s at such a heightened state of panic, he’s willing to roll along with anything.”
Smallfoot is released in UK cinemas on October 12.