CHANNING TATUM T
The world is about to discover if Hollywood hunk Channing Tatum has a funny bone in his body,
Buddy cop who likes to laugh.
WE’VE seen him slicing and dicing in The Eagle, shooting up a storm in GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and dancing in the streets in Step Up.
But clowning is something else entirely, and heart- throb action man Channing Tatum gets to do a bunch of it in the new
21 Jump Street, a tongue- in- cheek ‘‘ sequel’’ set more than two decades after the cheesy 1980s TV cop show that launched Johnny Depp’s career.
‘‘ I just love clowns in general [ but] old- school clowning, not clowns nowadays,’’ he says.
‘‘ And Buster Keaton is pretty much the pinnacle of that for me; it’s not like I’m a big old- movie historian or whatever, but I love him and he did some stuff in film that I don’t think anybody has done in film since.’’
But for Tatum, his approach to pratfalls, which variously includes stumbling through a high school orchestra and leaping over cars, was no different to any other bit of physical performance.
‘‘ You want to figure out what the outcome is – do you want to fall, do you not want to fall? – but, really, you just want to survive it, whatever it is,’’ Tatum says.
‘‘ You don’t want to hurt yourself and then after that you think, ‘ Well am I supposed to make it over the end of the car or should I not?’ But ultimately it’s all physical stuff.’’
And how does he go? Well, there are a few cuts and bruises along the way.
‘‘ In movies if you do something, people always think it doesn’t hurt but it mainly does,’’ he says with a laugh.
At its heart, 21 Jump Street is a buddy cop movie, with Jonah Hill as Tatum’s offsider. During high school in the midnoughties, Hill’s hapless and romantically unlucky nerd ( Schmidt) was the antithesis of Tatum’s super- cool jock stud ( Jenko).
But six years later, they’re both keen to enter the police force. They help each other through the academy, sealing an oddcouple friendship along the way.
Police work is not, however, as they imagined it.
After a particularly heinous cock- up, the pair is ordered to revive a 1980s program that involves young cops going undercover into schools to bust drug rings. But, of course, high school is not the way they remember it.
While Tatum had done romantic dramas ( Dear John and The Vow), doing a laughout- loud romp was new to the 31- year- old former model and stripper.
He credits Hill, who signed on and then co- wrote the script at the studio’s invitation, with giving him the courage to make the move.
Both Tatum and Hill got executive producer credits, with Tatum also bringing his action- man experience to the table.
‘‘ Action is interesting, because you can write it on the page but sometimes it turns out that things aren’t really practical, or they’re very insanely complex and difficult scenes, and certain things that I’ve seen work with other directors have worked better than others’’ Tatum says.
‘‘ So I was just trying to add on to the whole experience; we did have amazing stunt co- ordinators and fight choreographers and stunt guys and so just trying to keep all that together was my producer’s hat.’’ It’s not his first production credit. In 2010, Tatum produced a well- received HBO TV documentary called Earth Made Of
Glass about post- genocide Rwanda, then followed it up with a drama called Ten Year, about a group of friends who meet up 10 years after graduating from high school. But this year marks the release of Tatum’s passion project, Magic Mike. And he’s proud of it.
‘‘ Magic Mike is, to my mind, the first movie I can honest to God say I have poured every piece of myself into,’’ he says.
It’s a personal film for Tatum, but in a light- hearted way.
Billed as a comedy, the plot concerns a cocky male stripper who receives
Sometimes it can just land on its face and not be funny at all or sometimes you can knock it out of the park
guidance from industry veterans. It’s based on Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper in the late 1990s, when he was still in his teens and trying to work out what to do with his life.
‘‘ It’s not a biopic whatsoever,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s just a world I know and I did it for about nine months and the people I met during this weird Alice In Wonderland jaunt, well, it was pretty crazy.
‘‘ Making it was so much fun. We wrote it, we financed it ourselves and just took control, and it was like, ‘ We are doing this’. We threw every penny we had into it and used up every second of the day and we wrote it in a month.
‘‘ It’s what I really want to do for the rest of my career. I want to do things I can develop, not just sign on.
‘‘ Although I do love just jumping on to people’s movies and taking a part and trying to make it as good as I can, I think I do much better work when I can build it around myself.’’ The movie was written by Reid Carolin, Tatum’s production partner and the writer of the Earth
Made Of Glass narration. Tatum takes the title role, appearing alongside Matthew Mcconaughey and Alex Pettyfer, while Steven Soderbergh is director.
Soderbergh also directed another Tatum film due to hit our screens this year – the espionage action thriller Haywire, which also stars Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Ewan Mcgregor and Michael Douglas.
In fact, it’s a big year all round for Tatum who, including The Vow, will have five films out this year, all of which look to do pretty good business.
Besides the two Soderbergh efforts and 21 Jump Street, which hit screens last week, there’s also the GI Joe sequel, GI Joe: Retaliation, which is set explode into cinemas mid- year.
But he swears he had nothing to do with the Tatum blitz of 2012. All out of his hands, apparently. For now, he’s focused on 21 Jump
Street – a movie he’s dying to see with a crowd after watching it with four serious and slightly humourless Sony executives.
‘‘ So the whole time nobody’s laughing and I’m just looking at myself trying to be funny,’’ he recalls wryly.
‘‘ I am interested in seeing it with a crowd. Jonah has told me that it’s just instant gratification, it’s either funny or it’s not.
‘‘ Sometimes it can just land on its face and not be funny at all or sometimes you can knock it out of the park and that’s something I haven’t ever been a part of.’’