He’s more than a pretty face – although Channing Tatum is that too. Beginning his rise to fame as the face of Abercrombie & Fitch, Nautica, and Emporio Armani, this Alabama native transitioned from modeling into acting with ease. He danced his way into the hearts of women across America – including his now wife Jenna Dewan, who was his co-star in the film Step Up – and earned the respect of men with roles in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Stop-Loss, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Channing knows he’s blessed, but he works hard and opens up with Risen about honesty, his enthusiasm for developing movies, and how he never wants to be comfortable with all the fame.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine at the Se Hotel in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: At what point did you know you wanted to do modeling and acting and be involved in the arts?
Channing Tatum: I don’t think you really know that you want to do modeling. I think it just sort of happens and you get really, really lucky. Your parents gave you great genetics; I don’t think you had anything to do with it very much. You’ve got to navigate it smartly…but that’s about it. [With] acting, I’ve always loved movies, but I didn’t realize I could be in them. I accidently got a Pepsi commercial just by a random audition, I did it and I was like, “Wow, this is actually something!” You get to do something. Very few photographers let you do anything. They just tell you to stand there and look different directions and what not. Every once in a while one will want you to give an emotion or [tell you] to act something out with a girl or whatever…so it definitely piqued my interest. I took a workshop and it was like one of those really cathartic moments, probably more like therapy, where you’re just crying your eyes out, “This is awesome. I love this and want to do it forever.” It’s kind of a healing thing. I never really felt like I was an actor until the movie, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, and that was the moment I knew, “Yes, this is something that I want to do forever.” I love characters, I love stories.
RM: Speaking of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, that was directed by Dito Montiel and then you two worked together again on Fighting, and you’re currently working on a project…is that a result of the initial opportunity for you to work together on multiple projects, or is it his style, what is the relationship there?
CT: We for sure just see things on the same plane. I think we hear the world in the same way. He writes how I speak; how I think we all speak. I think he really sees the world in a unique way. Now it truly is that we just want to make things that we love…sometimes people will like it, sometimes they won’t. It might not be for you because Dito does try to paint outside the lines a little bit and change up structure which gets kind of strange sometimes, but that’s art – there are no rules. And Dito definitely doesn’t like rules. [Laughter] He’s a madman, he’s crazy.
RM: In your most recent film, The Eagle, family honor is really important and your character’s father had a tremendous impact on him, what is your relationship like with your dad?
CT: It’s good. Good now. I think just about every kid; well the majority of sons and daughters, growing up you always think you’re the right one. You always think they [parents] don’t understand, and maybe they don’t. But most likely they do. [Our relationship] is good now.
RM: Another big theme is trust…would you consider yourself a very trustworthy person?
CT: Yeah, I mean… I hope so. I honor it very, very much. If anything, I’m almost terrified of not telling the truth. It eats away at me to the point that I would much rather take it on the chin whatever it is, even if I’m scared the person might be mad at me. I lament about things, I just can’t let them go in my head. My paranoia of guilt is a thousand times stronger than what it would be to go ahead and lie and hope it works out for the best. I don’t do that stuff.
RM: That’s a great quality, and it’s rare. So then I have to ask being in Hollywood, where let’s just say that quality is lacking…how has that changed the way you perceive people or view trust?
CT: It’s always very shady. It’s called show business, not show friends, that whole adage. You almost can’t trust anybody and that’s really sad. You can trust a few people, but really at the end of the day everyone is going to be out for themselves. No one is going to be like, “Oh wait you didn’t get paid?” You’re going to have to protect that for yourself – that’s why you have lawyers. You let them do the fighting on that front for you, what they’re good at. You just try to keep the art in mind. You can be jaded very quickly in this place – not to say I’m not, because I am, it’s just a fickle business.
RM: I think of you as a very grounded person, you’re humble and you know how to utilize your strengths. What do you attribute having a good head on your shoulders to?
CT: Thank you – probably just my family and my circle of friends. They know who I am, and it’s probably not someone who everyone else thinks I am. Even just doing press, it’s a character you have to put on.
RM: So you’re really not a grounded, nice guy?!
CT: [Laughter] Maybe not, I don’t even know. [More laughter] Probably not actually- I’m probably floating in the clouds somewhere. It’s one of those things, I think I had a bit of, not struggles, but definitely setbacks as a kid – I don’t read that well, I have dyslexia, ADD, they put me on medication, all that crap – so I definitely know I’m not the smartest kid on this planet, or the best actor on the planet, but I think Will Smith said it best, “I won’t ever be the best actor, but I’ll definitely be the hardest working one.” And I’ve always taken that to heart.
RM: What about faith in your life? I know you went to a Catholic high school, so what part, if any, does it play in your life now?
CT: It’s faith in like omnipresence, but I do not follow an organized religion whatsoever. I think that there are no rules in faith, as long as you believe in something higher than you and you’re being the best you can be. There’s too many gods on this planet, for any one to be right in my opinion.
…my family and my circle of friends. They know who I am, and it’s probably not someone who everyone else thinks I am.
RM: Have you given any thought as to what type of legacy you’d like to leave?
CT: Look, I don’t think I’m going to be one of these actors that has a bunch of awards on the shelf. I do hope, that I can say when I look back on it, that people say, “Wow, he left a huge footprint here.” And that they remember me in a good light obviously, but I don’t care if it’s producing or directing – I would like to direct one day. Hopefully even soon, just to start failing early if that’s the case, so it’s not later on in life. Even in trying to find different ways to get art out there – different venues of distributing film or making art.
RM: You formed a production company, and is that the hope, that you can get films made, that you want to make and take more leadership in certain areas?
CT: Absolutely. The first time that I had that experience was on Dear John. I got brought in really early and I got to be in the process of the development of a film – which was so incredibly interesting and gratifying. You feel so much more connected to the movie. You get to read the manuscript before it’s even a novel, then you get to help try to find a writer, then finding the right writer, then guiding and helping give notes on what he’s writing, and helping to find a director, then re-sculpturing the script with the director and the writer; there are so many different echelons of development that it can be so helpful as an actor to really be along every step of the way instead of just coming in a week or two before the filming of it and sitting down with the director and being like, “Okay cool, so how do you want me to do this? What do you see?” Look, that’s a cool way to do it too, but I really connected to the developmental process of it.
RM: It allows for more of a creative outlet.
CT: Yeah. I just think it’s so much fun to talk about movies, and character, and story, that it’s just a blessing.
RM: I was checking out your website, and you seem very open, allowing fans access into your life… tell me about the decision-making process on what parts of your life you make public and what parts you decide to keep private?
CT: I have a good bit about my life that is private. I’m definitely not hiding from the public. It’s more that I don’t want to have to worry if people are sticking cameras over my fence and I can cuddle with my wife on the back porch and not feel like there is somebody watching. I’ve been blessed so far that that hasn’t been a problem. And I hope it stays that way, because that’s just a whole other thing that I don’t think I could even handle. I would probably leave. I would be like, “Alright I’m out. That’s enough. This is not for me.” But I think you have to have a healthy balance. I think in the beginning of my career I was really against it. I don’t think the public should get to know you because I don’t think they want to see you then [in a movie]. Back in the day, people ran to the theatres because they wanted to see more of Cary Grant, they didn’t know enough about him, they had no idea where or what he was doing. They wanted to see more films. But now you get celebrities everywhere – you can see them online, you can see them eating lunch, taking the trash out, making out with whoever they’re making out with that night – it’s just such an inundation of information and knowledge about somebody. You go on a talk show, or a morning show, or anything and they get to see a version of you, so next time they see you on the movie screen and you’re playing a hump back, one-legged, albino serial killer, they’re like, “Wow, did you see Chan play that hump back, one-legged, albino serial killer?” They’re not just talking about the role. They’re not saying, “Oh my God, did you see that character?” They’re saying, “Did you see Leo [DiCaprio] playing that character? He did it so well.” Because they feel like they know him so well. The mystique is gone.
RM: The attention for you started very early in your career, and it continues to grow – especially with the hearts of the entire female race. Is that something you’re comfortable with now? Have you just accepted it?
CT: I don’t think you’re ever comfortable with it. I don’t see how anyone can [be]. I think when you’re comfortable with it, that’s when you somehow have lost touch with everything. But you know, I got lucky, my parents are two good looking people. I’ve been lucky enough to do some really fun things in my life. The movie industry is weird, I still can’t figure out if people are fans just because you’re in a movie, or is it the types of movies that you’re in; the magic of movies and filmmakers kind of sculpt you as this person that they might think you are. It’s really funny because like the Twilight kids, I think [fans] really believe that that kid is that character. I think they really believe it. That’s just like “Wow.” That needs some studying. I don’t know if I would wish that upon anybody. Those kids have an entirely different way than I could ever imagine having – and I’d never even want it. But they’re all rich, so it can’t be that bad. [Laughter.]
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