Channing Tatum on Directing 'Magic Mike 2,' Steven Soderbergh's D.P. Offer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Advice (Q&A)
This story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Riding such hits as The Vow, 21 Jump Street and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Channing Tatum barely has paused to take time off with his new baby girl, Everly. Three weeks after his wife, actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum, gave birth May 31, he spoke to THR from England, where he is shooting the Wachowski siblings' sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending.
The Hollywood Reporter: You just had a baby. Are you managing to get some sleep?
Channing Tatum: Yes. I am sleeping a little, probably a little more than most. A lot of people who have a baby probably don't have as much rest as I do. We have [a nanny] helping us manage all the risks of having a newborn.
THR: Were you in the delivery room?
Tatum: I was there for the whole thing. That was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life.
THR: You and Jamie Foxx just did that spoof on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (where both rapped the sexually suggestive "(I Wanna) Channing All Over Your Tatum"). How did you fit it in?
Tatum: It happened when we were going over to the Kimmel show after the Oscars. I was prepping the movie in London, and we hadn't figured out what to do -- and they wanted us to rap. It turned out to be a big thing. Jamie is hilarious. After that, Jamie was like, "We should run with this thing!" I went to his house that following weekend, and he's got a studio, and some wickedly talented kids put together some stuff while we were drinking beers.
THR: What do you do to relax -- if you ever do? Do you watch TV?
Tatum: I don't really watch a lot. I only watch what I can get on DVD because I'm never at home. But I think some of the best stories that are going right now are on TV -- Game of Thrones, Vikings, Downton Abbey. I love New Girl as far as sitcoms go; I love Zooey Deschanel. I used to watch The Tudors, True Blood. HBO really has it figured out.
THR: You're developing an Evel Knievel biography. Would you take that to HBO?
Tatum: I think that is better [as a film]. I have always seen that as really intense. I want to do a beautiful biography of his early life. Evel is one of the greatest hustlers and entertainers of all time. He really had this idea of what the American dream was. He wasn't the best motorcycle rider or stunt man; he just had the biggest balls of them all. He was a ringmaster.
THR: Is he one of your heroes?
THR: Do you have others?
Tatum: Genghis Khan, that's who popped in my head. [Russian director] Sergey Bodrov gave me a book on him years ago, and I've been obsessed with him since then. We met for Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan , the movie he did. At that time, he hadn't decided he was going to use an Asian actor because Genghis Khan is rumored to have had freckles and green eyes and red hair because he was more from northern Mongolia. Back in the day, the Mongolians didn't have the dark features they have today.
THR: Speaking of directors, is there any chance you'll reteam with Steven Soderbergh on Magic Mike 2?
Tatum: We're developing Magic Mike 2, but he really wants to be done directing movies. We'll see. I wish people would lobby him to finish what he started: "Come on, man! Stop being stubborn and come back." I've said that to him, but he is a very fixed-in-his-ways guy, and if he says it, it is hard to change.
THR: What will Magic Mike 2 be about? I'm assuming it won't be autobiographical like the original, which was based on your adventures as a stripper.
Tatum: It will be a road-trip movie, and it will essentially be the movie that everyone thought the first one was going to be: crazy and fun and less slice-of-life and less drama. The first one, we had to make not so cheesy and campy; this one we are going to swing for the fences.
THR: I know you've been thinking of directing. How about that film?
Tatum: That's sort of where we are at -- either [my producing partner] Reid Carolin and I will direct it together, or we'll have Greg Jacobs direct. He worked as a producer on the  movie and has been Steven's right-hand man for almost 25 movies. Right now, we're just trying to clean up the story, and then we'll make a decision. But it is hard for me and Reid to direct after one of the greatest directors of our time. Steven has argued [for us to do so]. He has said he would shoot it; he would DP it. And there's another thing: Is that good? Because he is such an opinionated and talented man, if he wants to do a five-minute tracking shot through a forest, you don't want to doubt him. It would be like having sex with your girlfriend while her porn-star ex-boyfriend is in the room watching you.
THR: Before acting, what did you think of for a career?
Tatum: To be honest, I didn't have a college education, so I would have settled on any career that made some sort of money that was respectful. I never planned on being an actor; I definitely never planned on being a model. You think about a lot of things -- the military. I never really entertained going into the military, but when you are 18 and you decide not to go to college, you definitely ask a lot of questions. I always loved animals. I worked at a puppy/kitty nursery in Tampa, Fla., for about a year or something. At that time, I thought maybe I should get a job as a vet tech. I thought maybe I'd go to a tech school for that. I just really don't like school. I am not good at it -- especially at that time in my life. I had to go figure out [what I wanted to do]. I wish certain things in football happened differently, but it is what it is. I definitely knew I wasn't going to go into the pros. I ended up going to a little school, and it wasn't what I dreamed it to be. It just ran its course for me. [But] I am happy that I got on with my life. You don't learn anything by winning all the time.
THR: Do you worry about failure?
Tatum: I have had failures. You have to have the ups and downs and sideways and diagonals. I can watch my early movies and know in my heart I have gotten better.
THR: Beyond directing, what else are you planning? Are you going to do the musical Guys and Dolls with Joseph Gordon-Levitt?
Tatum: Joe and I have always wanted to do stuff together. I did my first movie ever with Joe, Havoc . I called him in the early part of my career for advice. What I learned from him, I have tried to make a blueprint for my decisions: Come from a real place where you are not just doing things because your agent is telling you to do them. He has always been a music man, and he is convinced I can be, too. He brought up the idea [of Guys and Dolls], and I had never seen it, so I went and watched it. But nothing is set up. Joe is working on the music, and that's it. I am dying to do it; I don't know if it will happen two years from now or more.
THR: You've got Bennett Miller's real-life drama Foxcatcher out later in the year, and you're making Jupiter Ascending. Then what?
Tatum: I am definitely taking time off soon, for sure. I gotta do 22 Jump Street, then after that I am just going to turn off the phone and enjoy my life for a while. I have been going for a long time pretty hot and heavy, and I definitely need to spend some time, for my family's sake, with them.
THR: Will you go off on another trip down the Amazon, like you did during your last break?
Tatum: I like to get out of society. People forget you don't have to be stimulated by electronics all the time. But we don't have anything planned at the moment. I can't plan any trips; my wife would kill me.
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