Channing Tatum: Interview

sHe's The Man

July 5, 2006
by Tim Nasson, Wild About Movies' publisher

Updated November 1, 2007

Channing Tatum, Stop Loss

Channing Tatum and Dito Montiel, the star and director of last year's acclaimed independent feature A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, have signed to re-team on an action drama for Rogue Pictures. Kevin Misher will produce the as-yet-untitled film through his Misher Films. Rogue co-presidents Andrew Karpen and Andrew Rona made the announcement.

The untitled new film is a rough-hewn heroic tale about realizing dreams of glory, putting audiences ringside at high-stakes underground street fights. Mr. Tatum (who also starred last year in the sleeper hit Step Up) will star as Sean Arthur, a young man who scrapes up a living scalping tickets in NYC. With family tragedy in his past and his father keeping him at a distance, this outsider has little to motivate him. A chance encounter with a veteran street-fighting coach leads to a whole new career for Sean. The ensuing bouts get tough, especially with the criminal element horning in, so Sean gets tougher. He will fight to win, not only the prize money but also the unexpected new relationships that are strengthening him.

Montiel has written the latest draft of the screenplay. Senior vice president of production Adrienne Biddle will oversee the project for Rogue. Shooting will began on location in NYC in September 2007.

Misher is currently in post-production on Christian Alvart's Case 39, starring Renee Zellweger and Jodelle Ferland, for release this winter. His earlier producing credits include The Interpreter and The Rundown - both box office bombs.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was Mr. Montiel's first feature and was based on his own autobiography. He won the directing award in the dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where the ensemble cast was voted a Special Jury Prize. The film, in which Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey Jr. portrayed Montiel at different stages of his life, also was honored at the Venice International Film Festival with two awards for the writer/director. Montiel and Channing Tatum each received an Independent Spirit Award nomination, while Channing Tatum was additionally nominated for a Gotham Award in the Breakthrough category.

Karpen and Rona said, "We were among the many who were knocked out by Dito's work on his debut movie, and Channing Tatum is a real rising star. It's great to be working with Kevin on this exciting new project which will rouse and move audiences.

Check out "Channing Tatum" in the trailer for the upcoming "Stop Loss" costarring Ryan Phillippe.

"Channing Tatum" will not be in "Step Up 2."

Step Up Movie Poster

Channing Tatum's second film of 2006, "Step Up," hit theaters this August 2006. Below, our interview with "Channing Tatum" from the movie "She's The Man," which is now on DVD.

She's The Man Movie PosterBoston – It’s been more than a year since I first interviewed, the now twenty-six year old yet very mature Channing Tatum.

That first time was in New York City, about a month before the release of his first major motion picture, "Coach Carter."

In "Coach Carter," an urban high school basketball film, Tatum, one of the modeling world’s most famous young males, had a bit part, a few lines. However, those few lines were memorable and opened the eyes some producers, including Lauren Shuler Donner (wife of "Lethal Weapon" director, Richard Donner).

Chaning TatumIt’s not often that a model, male or female, with zero professional acting experience gets more than a walk-on role in a movie, let a lone a speaking part or multiple movie deals.

"I got a call from Lauren," says Tatum, recently, while in Boston, bunkered down to promote his latest big screen teen flick, "She’s The Man," in which he costars opposite Amanda Bynes, "and she asked me to come to audition for ‘X-Men 3.’ You can’t imagine how excited I was about that.

Channng Tatum

I went up to Canada twice to read for the role she wanted me for, and I would have gotten it, but that character was cut from the script, and didn’t end up a part of ‘X-Men 3.’ She remembered me, though, and called and asked if I would be interested in costarring in another of her movies. That’s how I got this role, in ‘She’s The Man.’"

Tatum is not currently sporting his trademark, a shaved head, rather a full head of brown, wavy hair. "That’s for the movie," Channing says, running his fingers through his hair, explaining in detail. "I figured I would keep the hair until I am done doing publicity for ‘She’s The Man,’ so when I walk into a room for an interview people will not wonder who I am, since I have the hair in the movie. But I can’t wait to shave it all off again."

I asked Tatum what the impetus was for the shaved head to begin with. Was it a gimmick?

Chaning Tatum

"No," he laughs. "I come from the south, where it is hot and sticky most of the time and I hate having a sweaty head. And with hair I just feel gross and am always uncomfortable. I remember when I was a teenager I would go to the barber and always ask for a shorter hair cut than the last time. Finally, after a year of asking for it to be shorter, and shorter, I just decided to shave it, and it felt so good that I just kept it that way.

"In fact, on the set of ‘She’s The Man,’ I always thinking to myself, ‘No. Not Again,’ whenever the director would say, ‘Channing. Go to hair and makeup.’ I hate dealing with my hair."

The shaved head certainly focuses one’s attention immediately to the stunning face of Channing Tatum, a face that has graced many a magazine cover the world over, including Abercrombie & Fitch.

"I love modeling," says Tatum, who has taken a break from the profession for about a year, while he has worked on a number of films, including "Havoc" with "Brokeback Mountain’s" Anne Hathaway – which is now on DVD.

Chaning Tatum

"But," he adds, "I love acting. Working on ‘She’s The Man,’ was probably the most fun experience of my life so far. I also like modeling but if the movie roles keep coming in I might not need to model anymore. I am not opposed to modeling, it has been very good to me, but I much prefer making movies.

"I come from a family that doesn’t know much about Hollywood, and who doesn’t have a lot of money," Tatum continues. "My parents haven’t seen many movies, let alone been on the set of one, until this. The producers and director made them feel so welcomed on the set. And my family really had a really good time, too. They have never experience anything so exciting. My father even got to sit in the director’s chair."

Chaning Tatum

While "Coach Carter" showcased Tatum’s basketball abilities, "She’s The Man," more of a tween romantic comedy, a retelling – for teens – of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night," showcases Tatum’s romantic acting abilities.

"I get to show my sensitive side in ‘She’s The Man,’" explains Tatum, whose character Duke becomes the default dormmate of Amanda Bynes’s character Viola, who is pretending to be a boy, at their boarding school. "I think she is a boy, because she is pretending to be a boy," explains Tatum, "and I start telling her how insecure I feel around girls and, especially around Olivia, who Amanda’s character really is. And then she gets all mooshy about me, but can’t do anything about it because she is dressed as a boy." Channing pauses. "It really was a lot of fun, making that movie."

Chaning Tatum

Channing Tatum’s innocence, politeness, polished manners and charisma shine through when speaking to him and that just may be the reason – more so, or definitely in addition to, his striking looks – why he is in such demand in Hollywood, a town without many honest, sincere actors, not to mention agents, publicists, directors and producers.

Next up, on the big screen, for Channing Tatum is "Boys Don’t Cry’s," director Kimberly Peirce’s next film, "Stop-Loss."

"Kimberly’s next movie, the one I will be in, is about a soldier in Iraq who returns home to Texas from the War, and is ordered to return to battle– but he refuses to go back."