If you’ve a Twitter or Facebook account, you’ll no doubt have seen some rather saucy images of Channing Tatum, sans much clothing, straddling young, excited and probably highly-intoxicated females over the past few days. Don’t fret, the “G.I Joe” and “The Vow” star hasn’t been doing the dirty on his beloved wife, “Step Up” co-star Jenna Dewan Tatum, the photos were in fact taken years ago – long before the acting community were introduced to the muscly young actor, and quite a while before Jenna and Channing exchanged rings.
Before he was headlining blockbusters, Channing Tatum was the headline act of champagne-fueled strip revues. And no, it wasn’t a choice – in fact, the actor didn’t enjoy skirting between tables of women with only his briefs on.
“I was 18 years old and I worked three jobs”, explains the actor, now 32 . “This was just one of them, and I really enjoyed performing. It was probably my first performing job ever. I really like to dance, obviously, but then I didn’t really love taking the clothes off at the end, but the world in itself was just a very dark world in a way. ”
“Magic Mike”, the new Steven Soderbergh film starring Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer and Alex Pettyfer, is loosely based on Tatum’s days as a gyrating live wax model. The film, unlike Tatum’s experience, is full of many laughs.
“I don’t think we even scratch the surface of really how dark that place can get and how slippery of a slope it can actually be”, he says, “This was probably the most palatable version of this movie. Otherwise, you wouldn’t want to see it twice. You’d just be like, ‘Okay, I feel dirty now.’ I think we blade ran that topic, but just really got out and then I basically kept working in the clubs but I just went with some of boys that danced as well and we’d just put on shows at this one nightclub. It’s actually in the movie. Amphitheater. We put on these crazy shows in the back that we didn’t get naked in.”
The movie brought back many memories for the actor, especially when he was reintroduced to a Marilyn Monroe get-up.
“I did that to a buddy of mine on his birthday”, he smiles, “He was eating at a restaurant and I walked in as Marilyn and basically sang him happy birthday and embarrassed the hell out of him. So, we just decided to put it in this movie for fun.”
That’s one of the few actual incidents Tatum contributed to the film, that he actually experienced.
“There’s nothing that’s factual in this whole movie other than I was an 18 year old kid and went into this world and I dropped out of college and playing football and was living on my sister’s couch.”
What the film and Tatum’s back-story do have in common, is that they both encompass the story of a boy who is forced to become a man and make something of himself. That, says the actor, is a pretty universal tale, though.
“I think everybody either knows somebody or has experienced it themselves, whether they did or didn’t graduate college, afterwards you’re like, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’ You have the dreams that you want to do and then you have to do other jobs until you can get to that dream. Mike, and I think a lot of these guys, just sort of fell into this thing and it was fun and years just sort of ticked on as the party was happening. Then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Wow, it’s seven years later and I don’t really have very much to show for it. I’m not any closer to my dream.’ At some point the party had just gotten away and it became your life. I think that’s happened to a lot of people. They just get sidetracked.”
Tatum thinks he has the easiest job on “Magic Mike”, because he’s done it all before – and for real. His co-stars however, like Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, had to jump “into the thong with both feet and out onto the stage”.
“I’ve done it before and it was still nerve racking for me. I can’t imagine what these guys had to go through. [Matt] Bomer had to go first. I felt so bad for that. I was like, ‘Maybe I should go first.’ Everybody just committed. Every single person up here just went for it, and I wish we had time in the movie to show everybody’s dance because everyone worked so hard on them. It’s a humbling thing to get up there and you’re left with very little to the imagination in front of almost 300 people. It’s very, very nerve racking.”
Probably even more nerve wracking was the fact that every actor in “Magic Mike” ended up having their peers watch them as they filmed their saucy scenes. It wasn’t so much to razz them, says Tatum, but to barrel up support.
“Most movies, when you’re done with your scene you go home”, the “Step Up” actor says. “You go home, you’re like, ‘That’s it. I’m good. I’m going to go home for the day.’ That’s not what happened with everybody. You wanted to see them do their routine and do it well and kill it. Every time that Bomer or anybody came off stage you went back and high-fived them and told them what really worked, and you’re just like, ‘You murdered that.’ It really became a weird team, in a way, like a very weird, strange team. ”
Learning the dance sequences on “Magic Mike” weren’t half as difficult as learning some of those, er, Steps on “Step Up”, Tatum admits. In fact, these routines were fun.
“They were all fun and hilarious. I remember the first day that they were like, ‘All right, guys, we’ve learned these routines and now it’s time to get naked now, boys. It’s got to happen sooner or later,’ and everyone was like, ‘Woo!’ and just went out and did it. You were just like, ‘Okay, never mind. This isn’t going to be as hard as I thought it was going to be. It’s going to be pretty easy.’ Everybody just went nuts.”