I’ve read that the idea of making a movie set in the world of male strippers had been intriguing for a while. How did the genesis for the idea and Steven Soderbergh’s involvement come about?
Channing Tatum: I mentioned that I’d worked as a stripper for eight months when I was 18 and 19 years old. I’ve always thought about doing a story about that life because whenever the subject comes up, guys always want to know about it, “How’d you get into it? What was it like? How much money did you make?” Then we read a magazine article that was a bit on me, and somebody had asked Steven Soderbergh if he would direct a movie on that, if it ever would become a film. He was like, “Absolutely.” So I read that and I was like, “Alright, he’s just sort of committed, now I can fully ask him if he would really do it.” (Laughs) Then I called him up and he was like, “Yeah,” he was serious. So we sat down over a hotdog – it was hilarious because it was a hotdog (laugh), and then he was like, “We should make this movie, you should act in it, I’ll direct it.”
Although not based on fact, ‘Magic Mike’ is inspired by those younger days as a stripper….?
Channing Tatum: Yeah. It was the atmosphere and energy of it I wanted to capture, and that feeling of being at a time in your life when you’re trying things out, and up for anything. You might have a plan for the future, but for now it’s about that next pay check, that next party, and just having a good time. None of the characters are based on real people, not even my own. Everything that happens is fictional, and we did that purposely because we wanted the freedom to create our own scenarios and tell the best story. At 18, I was going through a number of short-term jobs and trying to figure out what to do next when I heard a radio pitch for guys who liked to dance, to audition for an all-male revue. I thought, “Why not?” I could dance. It sounded like something I could do for fun for a while. I’d show up for two hours and make $150, sometimes as much as $600 a week, all cash, which was a tonne of money for me at the time. I really enjoyed the performing aspect of it, although being in a thong can be a humbling experience (laughs). The more you try to look sexy the lamer it is, so you just have to commit to the comedy and the skit because that can be hilarious. Strippers are some of the corniest guys you’ll ever meet. If it’s a fireman skit, it has to be the corniest possible version of a fireman, but the women love it; they scream and laugh and stuff money into your underwear. It was wild. We thought we were rock stars.
What was it like working on ‘Magic Mike’ with Steven Soderbergh after you had worked with him previously on ‘Haywire’?
Channing Tatum: In my opinion, I’ve never worked with anyone who is more collaborative than Steven Soderbergh. Not just collaborative but empowering, he’s empowered me. I think that’s not only one of his most genius qualities; he’s not only a genius and he’s as smart as anyone, but he really does empower people, from the actors to the crew, to bring their own ideas into the process, to really perform. To bring something that he’s not expecting. And that empowers everybody to help everybody,
I thought Matthew McConaughy was great as Dallas?
Channing Tatum: He’s kind of perfect! I can see him….because he’s so sauvé and he knows how to talk. He knows how to say things, he can be talking about the weather, but suddenly it seems more rich just because it’s coming out of McConaughy’s mouth. And that’s these guys, they sell you a bill of goods that it’s really nothing. He’s an MC, he’s gotta be good on the mic and I’ve seen that he could have been the ultimate stripper (laughs). If that’s what he wanted to be.
It’s a stellar cast in general, I can imagine it being a lot of fun to work on…..
Channing Tatum: Oh man. Kevin Nash is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met in my entire life. Matt Bomer is a professional of all professionals, you can put him in any job in the world and I would guarantee that he will be one of the best at it because of his work ethic and his out-and-out talent, he’s unreal. Then Joe Manganiello, he’s such a crazy, unbelievable physical specimen, but he has more charisma than I’ve ever seen anybody have….ever (laughs). You shouldn’t be blessed with both of those, looking like that and having that much charisma. And also being ridiculously talented and smart, that’s unfair. Then you have Adam Rodriguez, where it’s so unfair as well because he can literally walk out on stage and he’s already a thousand times more sexy than a white guy walking out on stage (laughs). He doesn’t even have to do anything! He just walks, Spanish-like, and girls just fall over.
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