Channing Tatum: “I did learn to speak Spanish and dance at quinceañeras”

Channing Tatum danced his way to stardom in 2006 with the movie Step Up, where he proved he's got the looks and the moves. After being discovered by a modeling scout on the streets of Miami, the southern stunner posed provocatively for Nautica and Abercrombie & Fitch. Then came his role as a delinquent turned dancer in Step Up, Since then he has been the star of titles as White House Down, The Eagle, Magic Mike. He is married to actress Jena Dewan-Tatum. In Los Angeles we had the opportunity to talk with Channing about his new dream of becoming a director.

Q: Did it pay off, all the suffering on the shoot?

A: It paid off in spades. It’s actually more than what we bargained for. It’s one of those things that you think you know what’s coming. You prepare, you train, you study and you do everything you possibly can to get ready and then the next thing you know, you get there and you’re like, “Oh my God, what have we gotten ourselves into?” This is almost unbearable. Just getting up everyday for six to seven weeks everyday you know that when you walk out the door, you’re going to be frozen and soaking wet.

Q: Having a dancing background. Did that make it easier to do the fight scenes?

A: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of fighting. I did a movie called Fighting. I could help even when it’s like – he didn’t have to tell me where the camera was for me to know what plane you haveto cross to be able to make things sell. I can run and do a back flip off of a wall. I can do a back flip off a high thing. Running a little bit and just doing some of the running tricks but not some of the big ones that they do. But I did martial arts and stuff growing up so it wasn’t all that big of a deal for me.

Q: I hear you speak Spanish...

A: Yes I did learn to speak in Spanish and dance at quinceañeras, big 15th birthday parties for Spanish girls. It was always funny to bring the white guy out to dance and let him look like a fool. Since then I do speak Spanish and dance (he laughs)

Q: Any Spanish author that you read?

A: I did read a couple of books from Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I don’t remember the titles. Great stuff. Sorry I don’t remember the books.

P: If you ever bend out of shape, would you still be an actor or try to be a director, telling yourself I’m done with that work?

A: Yes and no. I definitely will not be worrying about it. I won’t be going to the gym if I ever direct. I do think – it’s interesting, the director has almost a harder schedule than an actor does. An actor might be able to go out and have a beer or two that night and show up with a hangover if you have like a nothing scene or if you’re not working the next day. Where a director works everyday, every single second and every hour and minute of the day. You look at a director halfway through the movie and they are just like pphhhewww. They go home, they make a shot list. Their day doesn’t stop when the crew stops. It’s a constant.

Q: And you want that?

A: I do. I do because I do love this thing and I love what we do.

Q: In terms of directing, do you have a favorite style or a favorite director that you like to follow, a visual mentor in a way?

A: Soderbergh or Dito Montiel are two of my favorite styles. It’s very loose. There are certain types of movies that can be loose. Dito has a very loose style. He doesn’t care if you run to the wall and fall down if that’s what you feel compelled to do. They are all very specific in intention down to the word of why are you saying this? What do you want out of the scene? Every character has to want something.

Q: Did you learn from Soderbergh because that’s also a different breed of director?

A: Yeah, entirely different breed. He’s insane but insanely genius. Soderbergh, the way he runs his set is so – I just went to visit him on this 90 million dollar movie he’s doing. I did like a 20 million dollar movie with him. The sets are exactly the same size. I mean, exactly if not smaller on the other one. I’m sure they’ll have big set pieces like we did on the movie, there are certain days. But small crew, his very close friends that I mean, there is not one person there that hasn’t have a purpose and worked exactly as hard as he does. He’s the person behind the camera. He’s in there changing things all the time and saying exactly what he likes, what he doesn’t like. It’s not just you letting it go.

If you come with something that you want to do like, half of my stuff that I do in the movie, it wasn’t in the script. I’m hung over in a scene that I was never supposed to be hung over in. I just show up and I say, guys I have this sort of idea for where I could come from. He’s like, great do it. He’s really free with things but then other things, he’s very, very rigid with. I think it’s why he loves to direct non-actors. It’s sort of like his thing. His confidence as a director is so assured that he’ll sit back. He’s not worried about us not getting it. He never panics about not getting it. Kevin doesn’t either by the way. There was a few scenes where I was having a hard time. He was like, “Alright, we’ll be here until we get it. It’s fine.”

Q: When do you think you’ll be ready to direct? What are you waiting for?

A: I do have a movie that I want to direct; me and my partner Reid Carolin will direct. We got our first draft in as of like five days ago so we’re going to work on that the next three months and then we’re going to make a short. I’m not sure about being in it or not being in it, you know, directing myself. We just got to test it out.

Q: Will you audition the actors?

A: They have to audition for it but that’s kind of what it is. It’s a bit of an audition if we go to the short that I’m in to see if we can do it. It is a lot more possible to have, you know, if there are two directors. I have my buddies that know me so well and has the same vision as me who watch me. I can come back and we’ll watch the whole scene. We got to just try it. We have filmed things but I haven’t been in any of them.

Q: What kind of story is it?

A: We just filmed like little things, like little commercial type tests, like screen tests. We got the 5D and we’ll just do sort of a visual type thing.

Q: The 5D?

A: Yeah, the 5D Mark II. We just got a steady cam for it. We’re just getting toys and playing. We’re really just playing.

Q: What’s the secret of a good Hollywood marriage?

A: Just a good marriage in general is just be friends and understanding in general, in life, I think. It’s something that Chazz Palminteri said to me one time. I was really worried about this one character that I was playing being likeable because he was not a very likeable person. He did a lot of bad things. He said, “No, no, no, don’t care. Don’t care if people like you in a role. You just have to make them understand you. If you make them understand you, it doesn’t matter. They can have their own opinion but as long as you have made yourself clear of why you are the way you are then that’s all your responsibility as an actor.” I took that to heart even in life. People don’t have to like me, like what I do. As long as I have made myself clear about why I’m doing it, and I feel good about that, then I’m good.

Q: There are a lot of actors who have a wife who is also in the business one way or the other are mostly saying it’s a question of trust because at the end of the day, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and into your partner’s eyes.

A: Yeah, totally. I mean, it’s not only trust but the connection there. I know if my wife – before she says anything in the morning whether she had good dreams or bad dreams. Like I wake up in the bed and I can feel her in the bed whether she’s happy or not happy. If you’re really in tune with each other, you’ll know if something gets weird. If she’s done anything strange, I’ll be like, “What’s happening? What’s going on?” Hopefully, it doesn’t ever get to that.

Q: Will you direct her?

A: Would I direct her, oh God that would be…if I want to be divorced maybe. But no, I mean, we are going to play around. We’re definitely going to do stuff. She’s my muse. We’re for sure going to do stuff eventually.

(c) America Reads Spanish

© Featureflash |

Sign up to our newsletter: