Channing Tatum turns up the heat for Magic Mike XXL
Channing Tatum takes up request from Magic Mike female fans for 'less story and more dancing'
Magic Mike XXL star Channing Tatum is giving women what they want.
The beefed-up sequel to 2012's comedy-drama Magic Mike, which gave the world a glimpse into the 35-year-old US actor's past life as a stripper, also features eye candies Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello.
At the film's press junket at The London West Hollywood, Tatum, who is one of its producers, was eager to explain why women will once again fall in love with the characters they first met on the big screen three years ago.
Apart from McConaughey and Pettyfer, the boys are back to turn up the heat and take their show on the road, all the way to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
At the end of the first film, Mike (Tatum) left the business and was trying to find his own path in the world.
The first scenes of Magic Mike XXL, which opens here on July 9, show him in "all work and no play" mode, until he gets a call from his old pals and his life gets crazy again.
The sequel once again takes inspiration from Tatum's own experiences from his early days as a male stripper, in terms of the odyssey to the big stripper convention, which was supposed to be included in the first film.
"We didn't ride up in a food truck like in the movie," Tatum told M.
"One of the strippers had a mobile detailing company and we used an old U-Haul van he had. It's so ridiculous now that I think back on it."
Reminiscing about that time of his life is pure comedy for Tatum, who is not ashamed of his past.
"I think it was a really interesting time in my life, where I met a lot of crazy characters and I really love telling people these stories," he said.
"I wanted to tell people a lot sooner that I was a stripper, but my publicist was like, 'Hell, no! You're not telling people.'
"So when it finally came out, I was, like, 'Yes! We can finally talk about it.'"
As for Magic Mike XXL, Tatum took a lot of what fans said on message boards and incorporated their recommendations, saying that the main thing women wanted from the sequel was "less story and more dancing".
So where the original flick explored Mike's realisation that his time on stage was coming to an end, the follow-up is more about the bond the guys have with one another and their enthusiasm to please women.
"The idea with Magic Mike XXL was to have them discover for themselves what's hot, fun and sexy," said Tatum.
"A huge part of that is by asking women what they want instead of telling them it's a cowboy in bum-less chaps."
So instead of the same police, fireman and navy guy routines, the ladies are treated to diverse big productions that really detail what each character is about.
And of course, Tatum rounds it all off with another memorable performance to US R&B singer Ginuwine's sexy single Pony, that tops anything he's done.
So open is he that the father of one, who is married to actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum, will not be censoring any of it for his two-year-old daughter Everly, saying that it is inevitable that she will someday see his raw stripper movies when she comes of age.
"You can't change the fact that I was a stripper and, hopefully, she grows up knowing it was what it was," he said.
"And by the time she is old enough, they'll be holograms and she'll be able to see me in all my glory."
Tatum gave a hearty laugh before joking about how he's setting aside some money for therapy.
Stripping makes singing easier
It's easy to get distracted when talking to Matt Bomer (above).
Blame it on his piercing blue eyes or perfect complexion.
His Adonis good looks are captivating, which is why the openly gay 37-year-old US actor was cast as Ken - as in Barbie and Ken - in both Magic Mike flicks.
Bomer talks about singing for his supper, whether his handsome mug has helped or hurt his career and staying normal in Hollywood.
For your big performance, you bust out in song - Bryan Adams' Heaven. Was that originally in the script?
This is the first time I've sung in a movie, but I did an episode of (TV series) Glee.
Since we had a shoestring budget for the first movie, we used to entertain the extras ourselves between takes and so I sang them a song. Channing (Tatum) remembered that and told me he wanted me to sing in the sequel.
I can't think of anything scarier than singing live in front of 1,000 people while taking your clothes off. But in a weird way, doing both made it easier. I just went for it. It was fun.
Is being a 'hunk' or good-looking something you embrace or does it take away from your craft?
I don't think of myself like that.
When I first signed on for this movie, it was a small, independent thing that featured a cool and interesting world. But an aspect of any job is that you commit to the world or whatever it is - it's just part of the job.
I had to build my muscle and work on dance routines, but I could have lost 40 pounds and it would have been the same for me. Anything that happens outside of that world is totally outside of my control as an actor.
The life of a stripper and that of an actor can get crazy. How do you stay grounded?
My family first and foremost, especially when you have three young kids (via surrogacy, with publicist-husband Simon Hall).
They know what I do for a living, but they don't really care that much. They're definitely not impressed that I'm an actor, so they keep me really grounded. They're much more interested in who I am.
I also meditate, but not in the same way Ken does - he's in a sarong on the beach. It's a practice that has really helped me chill out in a business that can be very 'what's next, what's next'. It keeps me centred and creative.
What do you look for in roles?
I look for diversity.
I think the first thing I ask myself is, 'Does this scare the s*** out of me?' If the answer is yes, I usually ask why. If that question is interesting to me, I get a little closer to saying yes.
The script and filmmaker are also important, but it's important for me to play different roles.
I'm signed on to star in a Montgomery Clift flick for HBO and I did the action drama The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, which was different from things I usually do.
Fantastic Four (2015)
Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Zoolander 2 (2016)
The Boy Next Door (2015)
Life On The Line (2015)
The Crossing (2014)
Dirty Grandpa (2016)