Interview to Channing Tatum for this month’s Esquire cover story, and he’s quite the devoted entertainer. Whether he’s getting crushed by an Olympic wrestler in Foxcatcheror apologizing to fellow Magic Mike dancers for his flailing nethers, Channing does whatever the role takes. Just don’t try to make him sit still.
1. He was a fidgety kid.
Channing’s mom on his boyhood: “You weren’t bad. You were just… busy.”
2. He Night-at-The-Roxybury-ed his way into dance.
“I mostly learned to dance by hanging out in clubs and grinding on girls.”
3. Director Bennett Miller discovered Channing’s potential for darkness in an obscure role.
After watching the 2006 drama A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints in which Channing plays a bully, Miller made up his mind: “I saw him in that and immediately offered him the part in Foxcatcher, which was still years away. And in that time, Channing’s career took him directions that moved him away from the thing that caught my eye.”
4. Channing’s silly roles have done nothing to wane Bennett’s confidence in his actor.
“It took about six years from the time I offered him the role to get the movie made, and in that time there was never anybody that I ever wanted for the part other than Channing.”
5. Channing’s naked dance rehearsals for the Magic Mike sequel come with an extra scoop of awkward.
“There are a lot of apologies. A lot of ‘I’m sorry that ran into your chin’ and ‘Let me take my thigh off your neck.’”
6. He’s unfailingly polite.
After being accidentally squirted in the face with crab juice, Channing replied, “This happens with crab. It’s all right. At least I got some crab.”
7. Channing studied martial arts as a kid.
“It wasn’t complicated. I learned to appreciate repetition. That’s why I can dance. It’s how I learned to act. I have a high tolerance for repetition.”
8. But he says wrestling is harder.
“In wrestling, there is no retreat. No way to slow things down. In wrestling, you advance and advance, and being tired is just a lie to make the other guy think he can relax. It’s so hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done.”
9. Foxcatcher costar Mark Ruffalo commends Channing’s intense training for the film.
“No doubt there’s an element of misery, and we felt that. But Channing is unrelenting and unyielding. He went right through. And he created that intensity with his eyes, his body, this presence.”
10. Channing didn’t go to acting school, and he didn’t follow their no-imitation rules when studying wrestler Mark Schultz.
“What I did was really work on imitating him, from his walk to his neck rolls. I tried to get myself to fit inside that. Everything in him looks a little shredded and like it hurts, but no one will ever know how much.”