CHAN­NING TA­TUM T

The world is about to dis­cover if Hol­ly­wood hunk Chan­ning Ta­tum has a funny bone in his body,

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - writes Chris Hook

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.’’

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