Talking to newly minted superstar Channing Tatum, it’s hard not to think about how he’s slightly embarrassed about his male stripper past, a topic he revisits in the almost inherently fictionalized Magic Mike, his second film this year with highly regarded director Steven Soderbergh following Haywire.
During a promotional stop in Toronto earlier this month, Tatum – hot off two back-to-back $100 million grossing films after The Vow and 21 Jump Street – spoke of how strange it felt revisiting the Florida community where he got his inauspicious start in the male entertainment industry.
“I think one of the strangest moments was when we actually went back to Tampa,” Tatum said. “That was when it finally hit me where I was and what I have gotten to. These were the same damned streets that I stumbled down when I was just this 18 year old, little raver kid. Now I can go back and remember that I’ve made something of myself. I got out fairly unscathed and not a lot of my friends did.”
The relaxed and naturally charming Tatum states, however, that the character of Magic Mike and his younger wayward protégée in the film (played by Alex Pettyfer) are not directly based on his first pit stop to stardom.
“We’ve been quoted as saying that if we put all the stuff that really happened back then it would just be an out and out comedy because you just wouldn’t believe it. I mean, I’ve ridden in the back of a U-Haul van with seven other strippers up to North Carolina, and it’s just bizarre. The only things that are similar and relevant to my actual life is that I was 18 when I went in… I also had a sister and I played football in college before I dropped out. And that’s it, really.”
Coming from such humble beginnings and a life that saw him taking on many other menial jobs to make ends meet before taking up acting gives Tatum a much more grounded look at his newly minted star status.
“I think the superstar thing is completely arbitrary. I think I’ve tried for the most part to just be myself both in public and private, and characters are characters. I try to generally maintain who I am with my core group of friends and who I am in the press on kind of the same level. It backfires sometimes and other times it works out.”
And in a role where Hollywood’s newest hot commodity takes off most of his clothes to appeal to the female demographic that the on-set extras would act more professionally than actual strip club attendees, and while they were completely respectful to Tatum, his co-star Matthew McConaughey (as the club’s owner) wasn’t so lucky.
“I actually think (he) broke them. They could not behave themselves in his actual scene and he actually got his thong ripped off.”
And for what it’s worth, Tatum’s wife doesn’t seem to mind her husband indulging other people’s fantasies.
“She thinks it’s hilarious. She kind of revels in the fact that she married a stripper. We still dance for each other and keep that fantasy aspect alive for each other in many ways. It’s just fun and silly.”
Magic Mike opens in theatres on Friday, June 29. Check out the trailer below.
Top image: A scene from Magic Mike. Courtesy Warner Bros.