|Channing Tatum & Joe Manganiello in Toronto - June 2012|
A year ago, a few eyebrows might've been raised with the talk of there being a Steven Soderbergh Male Stripper Film in development. Magic Mike as that Film now is known, will soon be revealed - pardon the pun - amidst the 2012 Summer rush of Blockbusters. I mean, we've all heard of 1995's delicious and unintentionally-laughable Showgirls, but much still is left to be accomplished in Films of the ever-tricky Stripping genre. Stars Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello (pronounced with a hard "g") both arrived in Toronto today for the Canadian leg of Magic Mike's Press Tour.
The Dramedy brings together Tatum and Soderbergh a second time, after having seen the release earlier this year of Mixed Martial Arts-inspired Action Flick Haywire. This time around, the Action we see is of a whole different variety - the variety which surely you might have seen in that Clip on the Internet of Tatum gyrating onstage back in his pre-Actor days as a Stripper. You know you clicked "refresh" on that. Don't lie.
Magic Mike follows a Man in his 30s (Tatum) who is at a turning point in his life after making quick cash - and stacks of it - as a Stripper. Although he is successful at what he does, we soon begin to see the repercussions of this choice on his love life and ability to achieve his own dreams as an Entrepreneur. Along the way, we get to know a mix of Characters in his all-male Dance Revue. We meet the Mastermind behind it all Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Richie (Mangniello) and Newcomer The Kid (Alex Pettyfer). Matters become complicated when Mike falls for Paige (Cody Horn - Daughter of Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn), who happens to be The Kid's grounded Older Sister.
On Horn's Character, Paige, Tatum reveals that her early beginnings in the Film actually are based on his own real-life Sister of the same name. "She's a beautiful, strong-willed Woman", he tells us. "I didn't have to get my Boys when I got into a fight in the neighbourhood. I'd be like 'Yo! Let me go get my Sister!', drawing laughs from the intimate group of Journalists - some unable to contain their excitement for him. "Huge Fan here", one admits to him.
How much of Magic Mike is autobiographical, we wonder? Tatum clears the air regarding the misunderstanding that the Film is a Biopic, stating "To clarify, it's really not my Story. You couldn't put that all in a Movie. We fabricated everything. I mean, was 18 when I went in... I have a Sister, I played Football in College and I dropped-out and that's it really.".
One Journalist notes that Magic Mike has many Musical-like qualities to it. Tatum explains that at one point there actually had been talk of it becoming a Musical. "We talked about it a lot. It lends itself to stage so well obviously, but it would be a complete different story than what the Movie is, which I think could be better in a way.".
Writing the Film was a collaborative effort which involved working with Writer Reid Carolin, who based some of Magic Mike's Script upon his own Friend - also a Stripper. On having to re-live a bygone period in his life, Tatum recalls walking through the Club District of Tampa where he began his Career as an Exotic Dancer. "That was the moment where it all really hit me - where I was and where I've gotten to", he remembers. "I was walking the same streets I stumbled down as a little Raver Kid. Seeing the same stairwell where I was hooking-up with Girls. Now I can look back and say I've actually made something of myself.". And something of himself he has made, indeed. Tatum widely is regarded as Cinema's next Superstar.
Prepping for Magic Mike of course was not without its challenges. Manganiello, whose fine physique we've already seen on-display in HBO's True Blood, felt some degree of pressure in maintaining form throughout the filming process. He explains, "In True Blood, I know when the shirtless scenes are coming about three-weeks-out, so there's a way to peak for that day. When you're shooting Male Stripper moves and dance routines two weeks at a time, you had to peak every day. We were constantly training in the Parking Lot Gym - just constantly lifting.".
Tatum also recalls the seasoned McConaughey at one point breaking down and saying "This is not for me Dawg!", after having his Thong ripped-off during filming by a group of rowdy Extras. Meanwhile, in gearing-up for some of the demanding dance sequences in Magic Mike, Tatum confesses that it wasn't so much a stretch for him. "Me and my Wife (Jenna Dewan) actually do dance for one another, so I didn't really have to learn many new moves. It's important to keep-up that intensity in a Marriage.". Lucky Girl.
I asked both Tatum and Manganiello whether or not it ever gets difficult for them to separate their Personas as Sex Symbols from their own Private Lives. "I've tried to be myself and maintain who I am with my Friends, Coworkers and Press. Sometimes it's backfired though", he admits. Pittsburgh-raised Manganiello maintains that his Blue Collar-upbringing has kept him grounded as an Adult. He does admit, "I'd be filling my car with Gas and there would be Music playing and I found myself walking to the beat", drawing some laughs as he got-up to imitate himself. "You do walk around a little bit with that, but you've gotta shake-off the Character a little bit too.".
Many are labeling Magic Mike as a Movie for either Women on Gay Men only, but Manganiello leaves one parting message to those hesitant Straight Men on-the-fence about seeing it. "If you're a smart, savvy Straight Man, go see it on a Friday night and hang-out in the Lobby afterward. Bring a Fireman Outfit!". Spoken like a true Professional ...Exotic Dancer.
Stay tuned for Audio Excerpts.
Warner Bros. releases Magic Mike on Friday, June 29, 2012. Find out how you can enter to win a Signed Photo from Joe Manganiello right here!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)