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“It’s Really Hard To Be Sexy”: Channing Tatum Talks Returning To His Male Stripper Days For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Magic Mike’

"It's Really Hard To Be Sexy": Channing Tatum Talks Returning To His Male Stripper Days For Steven Soderbergh's 'Magic Mike'

Channing Tatum, co-star of Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire,” told reporters there was considerably more competition on the set of his next film with the director, the male stripper tale “Magic Mike,” than on their current collaboration. “When you walk out and you take it all off, you want to get a good reaction,” Tatum said Saturday in a news conference for “Haywire” in Beverly Hills. “It’s really hard to be sexy when you’re a guy; girls can just walk and be hot. And guys, you know, you don’t really want to move a lot. So it was a very eye-opening experience.”

“Magic Mike,” which was co-written by Tatum and his business partner, Reid Carolin, is based loosely on Tatum’s own experiences as a 19-year-old stripper in the Tampa suburb of Ybor City. Tatum said that it was a much more difficult adjustment than he expected to get back up on stage and take it all off. “It’s really obviously naked to walk out in front of a group of girls naked, and so you get real reactions from them,” he confessed. “So even having done it before for real, it was kind of weird getting back on the horse and doing it again. And some of these guys would come into the rehearsals and I’d be like, ‘alright, today’s the day – take those clothes off brother!’ And they’d be like, what? And I’m like, ‘oh yeah – it’s got to happen sooner or later, brother, so you’ve got to get used to moving.’ But yeah, it was so much fun; like we all had a barrel of laughs.”

Tatum said that the project evolved out of a casual conversation held between himself and Soderbergh during the filming of “Haywire.” “We were sitting over a beer and I told him I was a stripper for like eight months when I was 19, and he’s like, ‘that would make a great movie,’ ” he remembered, revealing that the director’s challenge was intimidating at first. “I was like, I want to make a movie out of it, and he’s like, ‘you should write it.’ I’m like, ‘yeah, Steven Soderbergh, I’ll go write that.’ And then cut to like three or four months later and I read an interview that he had given saying he would direct it if it ever became a movie.”

Eventually, Tatum and Soderbergh not only agreed on making the movie, but hurried it into production. “We sat down at Carney’s over a hot dog, ironically enough, and we decided to do it,” Tatum said. “My business partner is a writer, and he was like, your buddy should write it with you, and we should both finance it, you should act in it and I’ll direct it and we should do it in the next two months. My buddy wrote it in one month, and we just finished sort of reshooting, we’re in post [production] now, and we’ll be out June 29.”

Revisiting that world, Tatum said he found it a markedly different albeit enjoyable experience to go through 12 years later, especially since this time he was sober. “It wasn’t as comfortable as I remembered it,” he said. “I think I was 19 and I was kind of dumb and crazy – a lot crazier than I am now. Ybor City is like this sort of one historical place in Tampa that all of the clubs are at, and being in the same club that I was probably really intoxicated in was a really interesting revisiting. Walking the same little alleys and doing it sober this time was fun.”

Tatum characterized Soderbergh’s working style as empoweringly hands-off. “When I got the call [for ‘Haywire’], I’d read so much on him and how so many actors learn, and how his sets are so unconventional and how he’s just sort of a smooth and confident filmmaker,” he explained. “I got to learn a lot about freedom and kind of taking it on your own, because he hires the people he wants to hire, and then he really expects you to bring something that he’s not expecting, and he trusts that your judgments are correct.” Meanwhile, while the possibility of Tatum starring in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” came to naught, as Soderbergh left the project, the actor indicated he’s doing his best to keep their working relationship going even after “Magic Mike” is finished.

“Hopefully we’ll keep it going,” Tatum said. “I’m trying not to let him go painting anytime soon. I’m going to try to keep him going.”

“Haywire” is scheduled for release nationwide on January 20. “Magic Mike” is due in theaters on June 29.

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