Many movie stars have things in their past they would like to forget and at times go to great lengths to keep from the public. But not Channing Tatum. When he was 18 years old he had a short-lived career as a stripper that was exposed when a video of him stripping went viral a few years ago. With the film Magic Mike, the star of G.I. Joe and 21 Jump Street, goes back to the time before he was an A-list celebrity and working the club stages in Florida.
Read the Press conference coverage with Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello for Magic Mike below.
“I had worked three jobs and stripping was just one of them,” said Tatum. “I really enjoyed performing. It was probably my first performing job, ever. I really liked to dance, obviously, but I didn’t really love taking the clothes off, at the end. The world, in itself, was just a very dark world. 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. 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.’”
In the film, Tatum plays an aging stripper and entrepreneur who takes a 19-year-old aimless Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing when he’s desperate for a job. Club Xquisite owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) hires “The Kid,” but Alex gets more than he bargained with the booze, drugs and women, in the seedy world of stripping.
With Steven Soderbergh at the helm, the cast knew that they could do nothing but commit to the role, but it wasn’t easy.
“When I first talked to Steven he called to offer the role of Dallas and he pitched the story and told me who this guy was,” said McConaughey, whose character is a little out there. “I was laughing really hard on the phone and said, ‘Yes, I said can you give me one line so I can hang up the phone and walk away so my imagination can go somewhere.’ He said this guy Dallas is pretty connected to UFOs. So that was a great launch pad. That’s pretty ruthless direction on the phone in the beginning so I knew then I was going to be able to fly. It was fun and everyone was so committed in many ways.”
“It was an exercise in complete commitment,” said Matt Bomer (“White Collar”), whose stripper routine claim to fame is Ken Doll and Dr. Love. “I remember when Steven said to us, early on, ‘Jump off the cliff and I’ll catch you,’ and he’s the kind of director that you believe when he says something like that to you. We were all completely terrified, but it’s not the kind of movie you can only commit 75 percent to. You have to go all the way, or you’re going to be in real trouble.”
Tatum praised the cast’s commitment.
“I just respect (the cast) for jumping into the thong with both feet and out onto the stage because I’ve done it before, and it was still nerve-wracking for me,” Tatum said. “I can’t imagine what they had to go through. 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 just went for it. I wish we had time in the movie to show everybody’s dance because everybody worked so hard on them. It’s a humbling thing to get up there where you’re left with very little to the imagination, in front of almost 300 people. It’s very, very nerve-wracking.”
Those 300 people were female extras in the audience cheering on the cast and they gave all they had on the stage. But the women also got a little friendly.
“(The women got) so bad with Matthew that I was like, ‘Man, did I not bring it?,’” Tatum said. “They didn’t run at the stage like that (for me). The women lost their minds, and we didn’t instruct them to. If anything, we were instructing them to do that with the other dancers. We were like, ‘Come on, girls. Liven up. You’ve got to give it.’ And we didn’t have to do that with Matthew. He brought them right in. As Dallas says, ‘You’ve got to bring them in. You’ve got to connect to every single one of them.’”
McConaughey almost had a wardrobe malfunction during his dance sequence when a few of the women, who would turn crazy during the stripping sequences to almost motherly after, became a little aggressive. But in the beginning, wearing a thong was difficult to get use to.
“As far as trusting wardrobe its one of the larger leaps of faith to trust a thong,” McConaughey said. “It weighs like a dollar bill weighs … this is the only protection I have so the first time putting it one, what is every possible angle I can be in and I check to make sure everything is covered. For the most part it is. I had to put on the thong and walk around and try to have normal conversations. You have to talk about football or what you ate last night and then that’s what’s funny your leaning against the wall and just hanging out. You get comfortable with it. The fist time you put it on your body contorts … it is somewhat unnatural.”
But there was plenty of camaraderie amongst the men since were all in the same boat.
“With most movies, when you’re done with your scene, you go home,” Tatum said. “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 (on this movie). You wanted to see them do their routine and do it well. Every time that anybody came off stage, you went back and high-fived them and told them what really worked. You were just like, ‘You murdered that’ It really became a very weird, strange team.”
Tatum added, “The routines, you really wanted to do them well and perform them well, but it wasn’t hard. They were all fun and hilarious. I remember the first day they were like, ‘All right guys, you’ve learned these routines, so it’s time to get naked now, boys. It’s got to happen, sooner or later.’ Everybody just went out and did it, and you were like, ‘Okay, never mind. This is not going to be as hard as I thought it was going to be. This is going to be pretty easy’ Everybody just went nuts.”
While Tatum spent some time in that world, it was foreign to the rest of the cast. Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”), whose character, Big Dick Richie, has fun in a fireman’s uniform, joked that Tatum was in a dancing movie, while the rest of the cast was in a “dry-humping movie,” referring the cast’s dancing prowess.
“I think the sense of humor about it is what surprised me a lot,” said Manganiello. “At a female strip club, things are very serious. You get that archetypical guy in the trench coat, who’s like a serial killer with dollar bills. You don’t really get that, at the male strip clubs. It’s really hard to take yourself seriously with an American flag thong on that has a strategically placed sparkler. There’s a whole level to it that’s just about fun. That’s really the one big thing that I took away. The hardest thing about shooting this movie was biting the inside of my mouth, trying not to laugh when McConaughey was in a yellow spandex halter top with bike shorts, grinding on Alex Pettyfer’s hips in the mirror. I mean, come on, man.”
While Tatum contends that the characters, even his own, in “Magic Mike,” are fictional, he recently received some flake from a couple of his stripper friends – London Steele and Thomas “Awesome” Austin – from Florida who contend that some of the characters are based on them, according to a TMZ report. Tatum categorically denies that.
“There is nothing that’s factual in this whole movie, other than the fact that I was an 18-year-old kid that went into this world,” Tatum said. “I dropped out of college and playing football, and was living on my sister’s couch. There’s not one character that I took from my real life. This is just the world that I went into and that I had a perspective on, and we created everything from a fictional place. Those guys have been trying to make money off of me since I got into this business. London was one of the guys that sold the video that (Steven Soderbergh) saw and liked, and then we made a movie of it. They’re very interesting people. I don’t want to say anything bad about them ‘cause they’re part of the reason why I think this world is so interesting. They’re very interesting, intriguing, and bizarre characters. I’m thankful for weird people out there ‘cause they’re some of the most creative people.”
Magic Mike movie details:
Release date: June 29
Production company: Nick Wechsler Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast and Crew of Magic Mike:
Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and Matthew McConaughey
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Reid Carolin
Produced By: Reid Carolin, Gregory Jacobs, Channing Tatum and Nick Wechsler