This Friday, Channing Tatum stars in the film Magic Mike, a tale loosely (very loosely) based on his life as a, “dancer.” The rhythm to dance was innate though, as Channing broke it down in the middle of watching Beat Street as a kid and later wowed the South Florida kids he grew up with at parties. We first caught a glimpse of that swag in Step Up – the film where Tatum met his now wife Jenna Dewan. Since then he’s appeared in roles from romantic dramas (The Vow) to action films (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Life+Times recently spoke with Tatum about the transition from his 21 Jump Street film to this one, how being a sex symbol is never a comfortable thing, and why rapping is one career he won’t try.
Life+Times: So, I told a bunch of people that I was interviewing you, and one of them requested a lock of your hair so if you could just FedEx that…
Channing Tatum: Copy! On it. Don’t worry about it. In the mail! I don’t have that much hair right now but I’ll figure it out.
L+T: Does that kind of attention still kind of shock you?
CT: I mean, any kind of attention that people want locks of your hair I think is always shocking. But no, yeah. It never gets normal, that’s for sure. It’s always still just weird when, you know… I think I ran into one of my childhood like, idols, which is football player Howie Long. I got to meet him and I remember I got his autograph and I just remember being like, I don’t quite understand the autograph thing. I kept it though, just because I think it was sort of like I felt I was supposed to. But I never really understood why I wanted somebody’s signature. It’s cool though to me. Some people love it. Some people…I guess it’s your stamp in a way. It’s always strange, but all you can do is appreciate it.
L+T: How does your wife [Jenna Dewan] handle it?
CT: She’s good with it! She has just as much, if not more than I do. So, she’s good with it.
L+T: How do you handle that in the reverse? All of the attention for your wife.
CT: I mean, she’s beautiful. I mean I wouldn’t have married her unless I thought she was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen inside and out, so she deserves all the attention she gets.
L+T: How do you mentally shift gears from one movie to the next? I mean you were just in 21 Jump Street and I know the filming probably wasn’t side by side but now Magic Mike. How do you kind of switch those roles so quickly?
CT: You do need some time to sort of I guess shrug off each character. Usually time helps. Yeah, time’s sort of the biggest factor I would say. But more than that, you just kind of put that character to bed and you start to develop the other one and hope that it sort of takes over. It helps that with this film, me and my partner Reid [Carolin], we wrote it. Well, Reid really wrote it, I just told stories. Essentially, I got to build it up around me in a way so it was a lot easier on this one.
L+T: Do you think you’ll continue developing stories or writing and directing films?
CT: I hope so. I mean I think I have about four movies coming up and then after that I’m going to take a break. Then I think Reid Carolin and I are going to write the first thing that we’re going to direct.
L+T: Oh really?
CT: Yeah, start trying to fail early at directing.
L+T: Did you just say you’re trying to fail early?
CT: Yeah! I don’t want to start failing at like 45. I want to start failing at like 35.
L+T: Where’s the positivity? What about winning?
CT: Yeah I don’t want to be too overzealous and over-egomaniac. I just want to be very humble and my whole thing in life is under-promise and over-deliver.
L+T: I like that. That’s a good mentality. You don’t want to be that guy.
CT: I don’t want to be that cat. No “I’m going to blow your mind!”
L+T: Nobody wants to be that guy. Now that you’re this gigantic movie star, what was your first crazy spending spree? Like what was your big purchase that you did when you first got your big check?
CT: I don’t really know. I don’t really know of like the one thing that I went crazy on. I guess maybe my car, but my dad’s always driven Cadillacs. Whether they’d be old or new Cadillacs, it didn’t matter. But I grew up in Florida in this large…what do you say…an older community and there was always Cadillacs and older cars for sale on the side of the road. So I bought… One of my first cars was a truck, and then the second one after that was a Cadillac. Then I just sort of fell in love with it so I think the first time I could actually go out and get a new car, I went and got an Escalade truck. Which I probably shouldn’t have done that. It just ate gas. It was a cool truck, but not as cool as I thought it was going to be.
L+T: Well you bought an Escalade. You really could be a rapper, you know.
CT: True that! Maybe I should try. I’ve never really tried.
L+T: You never know. You’ve got the rhythm so now you just need the lyrics and the beats.
CT: I just think like if you’re not going to be able to contest with Eminem, why are you doing it? Just don’t. You’re just going to embarrass yourself.