'Magic Mike' Stars Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer Talk Stripper Dance Moves, Objectifying Men
"He defies the laws of physics," Bomer told THR of his co-star, whose life is the basis for Steven Soderbergh's new film.
The men of Magic Mike didn’t have much of a problem stripping down to portray exotic dancers in Tampa Bay, Fla. As the script called for group routines and solo performances, the real challenge for many of the actors was the film’s choreography, regardless of the outfits onstage.
“It was the scariest thing of my life, without a doubt,” Adam Rodriguez told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s Los Angeles Film Festival premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday night. “I’d never done any choreographed dancing ever before, and actually living up to it and working as hard as I had to meet the challenge made it the best experience of my life.”
“Alex Pettyfer was really surprising,” said Camryn Grimes of “The Kid” character who is new to the profession in the film. “He ended up being a really, really good dancer.”
When polled on the red carpet, the entire cast concurred that the White Collar star picked up the moves the quickest. “Matt Bomer was great at the choreography,” said Teresa Espinosa, assistant choreographer and Beat Freaks dancer. “He was a perfectionist, to be honest. He would practice when we weren’t rehearsing; he would go over the counts and help the other guys.”
However, Channing Tatum’s stage skills blew everyone away in rehearsals, which Espinosa noted were full of “grinding and pelvis-thrusting.”
“Channing is amazing; he’s one of the most authentic, cool, down to earth people I’ve ever worked with,” said Bomer. “He defies the laws of physics in this [film] -- it’s crazy!"
“He’s so talented; he can work with his clothes on or with his clothes off!” said Tatum’s onscreen love interest Cody Horn without shame.
The actress explained that the objectification of men is different than of women when it comes to strip clubs. “I think Steven [Soderbergh] understands that, we all understand that. Yes, the men are objectified, but I think women are kinder about it. We go with a group of friends and it’s more about, ‘Oh, look at how funny you are!’ With the men, it’s kind of more intense.”
Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt echoed the insight. “I think that as an audience, women are much more forgiving than men are. In that way, I feel like it’s oranges and apples.” However, she’s excited about the onscreen role reversal in Hollywood for a change. “I told my husband, ‘You’re gonna have to come see my male strip club movie that I made!’ instead of me seeing nudity from women in any movie we see. It’s nice.”
“What a great group of men to objectify!” added Horn. “I mean, let’s be real!”
No stranger to the strip club stage, Tatum was ready for all eyes to target every part of his body. “There’s no version of ‘in shape’ that you can possibly be to know that you’re gonna be 40-foot-tall and butt-naked. You’re just gonna keep working out the entire time," he told THR.
Though moviegoers will attend to revel in the film's near-nudity routines, the cast reassures that Magic Mike tells more of a relatable story than its advertising leads audiences to assume.
“Steven’s not gonna do a movie that doesn’t have some substance to it, outside of just a bunch of guys taking their clothes off,” explained Bomer. “He’s the kind of director whose not gonna shy away from the gritty parts and embrace the humorous parts as well. That’s a very delicate balance in the movie like this."
True Blood's Joe Manganiello highlighted some of the film’s themes at the Mike junket at the Four Seasons Hotel on Saturday (July 23). “It’s about being trapped in this life -- it’s a very attractive, shiny place to be, and I think that people get stuck in it, and years go by,” he explained. “You go in there as this fresh-faced kid, probably underage, and you wake up 20 years later, going, ‘What the hell did I do?’ That’s what’s at the heart of it.”
Tatum saw these experiences first-hand while employed as an 18-year-old exotic dancer for less than a year. “I think everybody either knows somebody or has experienced it themselves -- whether they did or didn’t graduate college -- afterwards, you’re like, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’” he explained at the press conference.
“You have the dreams that you want to do, and then you have to do other jobs to get to that dream…At some point, the party just got in the way and became your life. I think that happens to a lot of people; they just get sidetracked.”
Just as Soderbergh had hoped, both male and female viewers rated the film comparably when tested with focus groups.
“I think there might have been a concern for men who are having to see the film -- that the movie was so driven toward the female audience that there would be nothing in it for them to latch onto,” he explained.
“Of course, I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. Some of the issues that the male characters are going through are issues that all men confront about what they want. You know, men tend to define themselves by what they do. If you’re dealing with a character who is trying to figure that out, or multiple characters, then there’s something there for guys too.”
Magic Mike opens in theaters on June 29.
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