Spend a Sun­day with “Magic Mike’s” Chan­ning Ta­tum.

‘Magic Mike’ lets loose his South­ern charm

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - C.L. Gaber • Spe­cial to the Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal

HE is a yeti … and a gen­tle­man. Chan­ning Ta­tum, look­ing lean and mean these days, says the lessons he learned grow­ing up in Cull­man, Alabama, still in­form his life. “I’m from the South. If I don’t say ‘Ma’am’ and hold open the car door, then I’m in trou­ble. My mom or my sis­ter will still slap me in the back of the head.’ ”

The 38-year-old ac­tor plays a per­fectly honor­able yeti named Migo in the new hit an­i­mated film “Small­foot,” about a vil­lage of these crea­tures that want to dis­cover whether elu­sive an­i­mals known as hu­mans re­ally ex­ist. Ta­tum’s foot­print is also in Las Ve­gas with the show “Magic Mike Live,” a dance and ac­ro­batic ex­pe­ri­ence he con­ceived based on the films “Magic Mike” and “Magic Mike XXL.” It plays at the Hard Rock Ho­tel.

Re­view-Jour­nal: What is a great Sun­day for you?

Chan­ning Ta­tum: If I’m not work­ing, it’s about re­lax­ing and spend­ing time with my daugh­ter (5-yearold Everly). I love be­ing a dad. Kids are like lit­tle mir­rors, and it’s fun to just hang out on a Sun­day. I love watch­ing my daugh­ter just do her thing. She owns her world. She came out that way. I wish I could take credit, but it’s all her. I think kids come out how they’re go­ing to be. She’s so cool and I’m al­ways proud of her.

You sing in “Small­foot.” Did you know you could sing?

(Laugh­ing) No! When I got the script, me sing­ing wasn’t in there. But then I was led down this path of think­ing about the big mu­si­cal num­bers. The di­rec­tor told me at first, “Chan­ning, all you have to do is talk-sing. Just sing-sing the first line of it and the vil­lage voices will kick in. You don’t have to do any­thing else.” As it kept pro­gress­ing, I asked to lis­ten to the song and it was just one voice sing­ing the en­tire thing — me!

I was told that if I com­pletely sucked, then some­one else would sing it for me. I worked with a voice coach for a few weeks and sang the song.

What is the ap­peal of the film?

It has such a fun story about this vil­lage of co­op­er­a­tive and fun-lov­ing yeti ex­ist­ing in peace. But we do have some lessons in there about need­ing to get along with other crea­tures. I loved that this had a tone I hadn’t seen in an­i­ma­tion in a long time. Pixar movies are beau­ti­ful mas­ter­pieces, but they don’t have that zany Looney Tunes thing I grew up watch­ing as a boy. “Small­foot” wanted to go back to that joy­ous feel­ing you got when you watched Wile E. Coy­ote fall­ing off a cliff. It just makes you laugh like crazy. If you can sneak a mes­sage in there about ac­cept­ing one an­other, it’s a great thing.

What does your daugh­ter think about Dad be­ing a yeti?

She wasn’t sure it was me at first when the com­mer­cial started air­ing but then fig­ured it out. I tried not to tell her dur­ing pro­duc­tion be­cause she doesn’t like any of my movies. I’ll say, “Want to watch Daddy on screen?” And she will say, “No, I want to watch a real movie, Dad.”

Ouch!

Thank God she liked “Small­foot’’ or I’d be say­ing, “I don’t know who did the voice of that yeti. And he sang the songs, too! Re­ally!”

“Magic Mike Live” is a great tourist at­trac­tion in Las Ve­gas. How do you look back on your past when you were danc­ing for the ladies?

I think every­body knows some­body who at one point looked in the mir­ror and said, “OK, what do I do now af­ter high school or col­lege?” You have your dreams, but some­times you have to do other jobs to get to the dream. I was 18 and I was work­ing three jobs. That was just one of them. I re­ally en­joyed per­form­ing. It was ac­tu­ally my first per­for­mance job and I re­ally like to dance. It’s amaz­ing that for me, it de­vel­oped into some­thing in­clud­ing movies and a great show in Ve­gas.

What’s the ap­peal of the show?

The per­form­ers are amaz­ingly ta­lented. They kill it. And it’s a fun night out that might just defy ex­pec­ta­tions.

Does your danc­ing back­ground from films such as “Step Up” still help with act­ing?

Danc­ing has helped me in prob­a­bly ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially act­ing. When you’re com­fort­able in your body, you can re­lax. You can’t get tight or tense when you fo­cus on mov­ing.

How have you avoided let­ting star­dom get to your head?

You try your hard­est to stay out of the spot­light. Also, I don’t read what’s writ­ten about me be­cause I think it can warp you. I don’t want to know what peo­ple write about me. I just keep do­ing the things I’m do­ing and hang­ing out with the peo­ple who know me.

And if you get stressed out?

I al­ways re­mem­ber this one day get­ting pissed off about some­thing. I had my friend’s lit­tle boy with me. I was like, “God, I hate it when that hap­pens.” And this lit­tle kid looks up at me and says, “You shouldn’t hate any­thing.” He was right. I have a great life.

‘ Danc­ing has helped me in prob­a­bly ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially act­ing. When you’re com­fort­able in your body, you can re­lax. ’

Jor­dan Strauss The As­so­ci­ated Press

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