When I walked into the suite of the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, Channing Tatum greeted me with a hug. He said he’s a southern boy at heart and after our interview I can say that he is charming, down to earth and a pleasure to chat with. He’s easy on the eyes and the current heartthrob of many fans at the moment. He talked about director Steven Soderbergh, his past experience as a male stripper, his favorite Marvel Comic Book character, the movie “Teen Wolf,” backflips and more.
My guest tonight is Channing Tatum star of the new movie, “Magic Mike.” Welcome to Hollywood 360.
Channing Tatum: Thank you very much. How are you?
Sarah Adamson: Good! I’m glad you’re here.
SA: First of all, I’d like to ask you about your first name as I saw the SNL promo video with Fred Armisen about your name, were you named Channing after someone in your family?
CT: No, not a family name. I have no idea, really. I’ve always asked my parents and they’re like, “Nope we’ve always just liked the name. We’ve always heard it’s a last name.” Which is weird, neither one of my parents are artists or anything. They’re Glen and Kay. Very normal names. I don’t know why they decided to go off the wall with mine (laughs).
SA: It’s wonderful. It’s unforgettable for sure!
CT: It was not cool growing up. I didn’t even know it was Channing for a long time until I was about nine. We were going to Little League football and I saw my birth certificate. They just called me, “Chan” for about my whole life.
SA: I’ve seen most of your movies and I really enjoy your acting. I know you come from a modeling background, what drew you to acting?
CT: I got sought out on the streets for modeling and I really won the lottery there. It took me around the world. I did that for about two to three years and towards the end of it I got a Pepsi commercial. That Pepsi commercial was so much fun. Modeling, all of the fun, the art and active side is behind the camera. You’re just sitting there and doing whatever poses they want you to do. Every once in a while you’re lucky enough to get someone who makes you show some emotion or you get to interact with another model. I just did this Pepsi commercial and fell in love with it. When I came back to New York I threw myself into an acting workshop.
SA: You play a hero in the GI Joe movies. If you could play any Marvel Comic Super Hero, which one would it be?
CT: Marvel, Marvel, Marvel…X-Men is Marvel, right? Well, I’d say, Gambit. I don’t know if you know who he is but he’s from the bayou. He’s from New Orleans. He’s a thief. He’s not really good or bad but he just sort of walks the line (laughs). Him [Gambit] and Wolverine. I don’t think I’d want to play Wolverine though. I’d really want to play Gambit. You can’t really mess with Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine.
SA: You worked on another movie with director Steven Soderbergh the action film “Haywire.” Which is more difficult in terms of acting – the fighting in an action movie or the dancing in “Magic Mike?”
CT: I’d probably say that the fighting in “Haywire” was probably easier because it’s just you and another person moving together and you’ve choreographed it. She (Gina Carano) was amazing at it. She made me look good. The dancing for “Magic Mike,” was a little more nerve wracking. You’re having to actually go out in front of 250 women and take your clothes off and strip. That’s very humbling and very exposing, if you will.
SA: But you all have such wonderful bodies to look at! I don’t know what you’re worried about!
CT: Yeah, it’s not so much that you’re worried; you’re still just getting just naked. It’s just…like, “I’m going to get off the stage now. I’m butt naked” (laughs).
SA: At one point in the film “Magic Mike” I noticed you did a very impressive back flip off of the stage, is that something in your dance repertoire or did you have to learn that move?
CT: That’s something I kind of grew up doing. I had a group of ridiculously stupid friends growing up and we would do all kinds of dumb things like that. We would do competitions of who could do a back flip off of the highest building or house or doing crazy things off the house into the pool. We’d “teen wolf” our cars. Do you know what teen wolfing is? Did you ever see “Teen Wolf?” where he’s doing the back flips off of the truck while they’re going through the neighborhood? It was a bad idea. All of it was a really bad idea.
SA: Well, that’s great you used your skills later in life!
CT: Yep, I didn’t die (laughs). So, that was cool and now I can actually put them to use.
SA: Why do you like to work with Soderbergh? I believe you’re involved now with filming “A Bitter Pill” your 3rd movie with him?
CT: Yeah, I would do movies with him forever. I think, not only is he one of the more innovative and seminal filmmakers of our time, but he’s kind of like the father of independent films of our generation. He’s made some of the best ones that sort of started the whole wave of independent movies. He’s so uniquely Soderbergh. So uniquely special. He wears four hats. He’s the director, director of photography, camera operator and he’s the editor. I don’t know of another director that does all of those things. His producer wears three hats. He’s the producer, line producer and first AD. He just runs his sets in a complete, well operated and oiled machine. He allows it to breathe and make it’s own way. He hires who he wants to hire and he empowers them to do what he wants to see. He doesn’t always want them to do what’s on the page. He’s just like, “Surprise me. I just want this and this out of the scene. I don’t care how you get it out.”
SA: It gives you that artistic freedom so to speak. So rare!
SA: It’s been said that the movie is based loosely on your former days, as an exotic dancer at age 18 or 19. How was it to go back to that place in your life?
CT: Yep, 18 and 19 years old. It seemed like a good idea. I’m not ashamed of it. It was definitely more of the crazier and bizarre times of my life. I learned a lot and I got out fairly unscathed. I had some of the more fun times in my life doing it but it was a short-lived time.
SA: I have to tell you, I was surprised by what a great script the movie has, especially the inside look into the dancers lives in terms of the high they get from the applause but in reality to quote
Matthew McConaughey’s character: “A dancer is worth the cash the ladies pull out of their purse.” Ouch, can you comment on that please? It shows the downside of it…
CT: It’s true, though. In a way, its kind of like you’re not worth anything unless you can pull it off and perform. What are you doing it for? But, I think that’s relevant to just about any job. If you’re not performing and doing your job then you’re useless. I was more interested in the fact that people want the party. They want to have fun. I remember one of the comments I got on the movie. This guy was at one of the test screenings. I think he was trying to be really smart (laughs). He said, “I don’t think the movie knows what tone it is. In the beginning of the movie I had so much fun but in the latter part of the movie I felt bad about having fun in the beginning of the movie.” I said, “Man, that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel because you’re supposed to have fun in the beginning but you’re supposed to realize what the price of having that fun is. It can be a slippery slope. It can have danger in it. Everything is not fun. Life isn’t all just comedy. It has drama, risk, danger and conflict. I thought it was just hilarious that this guy was not getting it.
SA: Well, that’s the part I like! That you show all the sides of it.
SA: Thank you so much for speaking with me.
CT: Thank you!
Sarah Knight Adamson© June 18, 2012