Director Greg Berlanti Talks About Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum’s Chemistry In ‘Fly Me To The Moon’

(From left) Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson in Fly Me to the Moon / Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

Director Greg Berlanti knew from the first rehearsal they had for Fly Me to the Moon that Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum would have great chemistry.

“When you work with stars of this magnitude – who are stars for a reason – you know that they each have a filming element that most people don’t have,” says Berlanti, whose fan favorite previous works include Love, Simon and the TV series You. “But you do wonder, like until they are in a room together and I’m watching them act together, do they have chemistry? I knew from our first rehearsal. They were so inventive and fun with each other. As young people say, it was giving Rock Hudson and Doris Day, it was giving Spencer Tracy and [Katharine] Hepburn. They each have their own brand of comedy and drama but they really fit well together. It was exciting to see what was going to happen every day.”

Fly Me to the Moon is a stylish, multi-faceted comedy drama with a hint of romance set against the high-stakes backdrop of NASA’s historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Johansson plays marketing maven Kelly Jones, who is tasked by the White House to stage a fake moon landing as back-up – and this mission does not sit well with launch director Cole Davis, played by Tatum.

But, says Johansson, who is also one of the film’s producers, though there may be a little contempt between Kelly and Cole at times, you still see that they have a connection, and sparks fly.

(From left) Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon / Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

In Fly Me to the Moon, Berlanti creates a film that is simultaneously a comedy that recalls the sharp banter of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and also a drama with something to say about the importance of the truth; it is epically told on the enormous scale of the Apollo missions, and also the intimate story of two people coming together.

“The tether is always the performance – to have actors who can be silly in one moment and serious the next,” he says. “Tone is the number one question I’ve got in my career. I love to blend tones, because I think we live lives of blended tones – it makes the sad stuff more sad, the serious stuff more serious, and the funny stuff funnier, because it adds an element of surprise; you don’t know what you’re going to get from moment to moment. It’s testament to the actors being able to do that.”

(From left) Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon / Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

And Berlanti says that if Kelly and Cole’s mission to get to the moon is reflected in their coming together under the moon… well, that’s no accident. “Next to going to the moon, love may be the most ambitious thing a person can take on,” he says, noting that both aspirations – going to the moon, or allowing oneself to become moonstruck – require a leap into the unknown. “The moon is mystical and magical,” he says. “You have to imagine for thousands of years for the human species, it was the brightest light in the evening, when all of the magical romantic things were happening. That’s so ingrained in us. What it has in common with the romance and the aspirations of the world at that time is the ambition – the giving yourself over to something great.”

Will they make it or fake it? Find out when Fly Me to the Moon, also starring Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano and Jim Rash, opens in cinemas July 10. Fly Me to the Moon is distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International, #FlyMeToTheMoon @columbiapicph

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