Interview By: Andrea TuccilloAndreaTuccillo@TheCinemaSource.com
Channing Tatum is dancing his way to the top. Born and raised in New Orleans and a self-proclaimed “bayou boy,” Tatum has learned to appreciate the slow life, but with his star rising fast his quiet, lazy days may be far behind him.
With films like She’s The Man under his belt, Tatum is now taking on a whole new genre: the dance film. In this month’s Step Up, Tatum plays Tyler Gage, a troublemaking foster kid from the wrong side of the tracks. While doing community service at a Baltimore school for the arts, he meets passionate dancer Nora (played by Jenna Dewan) and the two form a fast bond over their love of dance. Through dancing with Nora, Tyler discovers an ambition and a drive that he never knew he had.
Tatum is no stranger to ambition and drive, two things necessary for the rigorous dance rehearsals and complicated choreography integral to Step Up. Tatum, a street dancer, found the classical components of each number particularly tough to master.
“It was something that was definitely foreign, and me and [director] Anne [Fletcher] had many talks where I’m like I just don’t get it,” Tatum says. “I didn’t enjoy doing choreography in the beginning because it was hard but the after a while I started to appreciate it. What these kids can do, and learn as fast as they do it and as good as they do itâ€”it’s crazy to me. It’s such an underappreciated talent that these kids have.”
His admiration for dancers and their ability has carried over into the kinds of movies he enjoys as well. Tatum has loved dance movies for as long as he can remember and he singles out Footloose as one of his favorites. So when the opportunity arose for Step Up, it was an offer Tatum definitely could not refuse.
“It was kind of surreal thinking about doing a dance movie, not being
For the creators of Step Up, Tatum was the right person at the right time. Originally unsure if they wanted an actor who would use a dance double, or a dancer who they would teach how to act, Tatum turned out to be the perfect combination of both. After he demonstrated a bit of his freestyling at his audition, the choice was clear. Tatum went straight to work with choreographer Jamal Sims, a collaborative effort which he says was very comfortable.
“It was very easy to work with him, because by happenstance we move a lot alike,” Tatum explains. “We would just work it out, we would just play. We would be like, let’s create. We would just go over to the side and just work stuff out.”
Of course, moving to the beat is not as easy as it looks, and there were some minor on-set bumps and bruises.
“Jenna actually hurt her rib, and it might have been a product of me,” Tatum admits. “We do this lift where I throw her up in the air and I have to spin her and catch her over my head. That can be pretty taxing on your ribs after I catch you fifteen times in a day. But I didn’t really ever hurt myself except for bangs and bruises.”
The steps may have made Tatum sore, but he always made sure his wardrobe was conducive to dancing, hence the bagginess of his character’s clothes.
“It’s a personal choice of mine, like hip-hop is very loose,”
But don’t baggy pants pave the way for other potential problems, like for instance, falling down?
“They did actually a few times!” Tatum says with a laugh. “But for the most part you feel more comfortable and you’re less encumbered by the whole thing.”
With his laidback nature, you can tell Tatum is all about going with the flow. And with the way things are going, that flow seems destined to take this charming new star someplace great.