From Stripper to Superstar
By Aaron Hicklin
Matt Bomer, who studied for his Magic Mike role by spending time backstage at Hollywood Men, an L.A. revue show, says working with Tatum was a revelation.
“He’s obviously very good-looking and effortlessly cool, but he’s also one of the kindest, most open-hearted people I’ve ever known,” he says. “More than anything, he just has a lust for life that makes him want to tell stories and to dig deeper than someone who looks like him might have to dig. He kind of reminds me of Steve McQueen in a lot of ways -- completely authentic and comfortable in his own skin.” (For his part, Tatum describes Bomer as “the most talented and committed person I’ve ever got to work with.”)
There’s something about the way Tatum, a former model, has chosen to manage his career that also resembles Mark Wahlberg’s trajectory -- from the Funky Bunch and modeling for Calvin Klein to admired actor and dedicated producer. Tatum spends huge amounts of time thinking about movies -- how they’re made, how they work. It’s one of the most impressive things about him. Everything gets noted, indexed in his head. An instructive anecdote involves auditioning for Josh Brolin’s role in No Country for Old Men. “I went into that audition knowing that I was 15 years too young for the role,” he says. “But I really fought to get the audition because I knew that I would come out a better actor because of the Coen brothers. I just wanted to be in the room with them.”
Although he hasn’t always picked the best movies, Tatum has proven that, when the material is good -- as with the 2006 indie movie, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints -- he hits it out of the park. But he also worries that the kinds of movies he likes are just not made in Hollywood any more. It’s why he’s so invested in the filmmaking process, something that started in earnest with the Nicholas Sparks–penned tearjerker Dear John, to which he was signed before they had a script.
“It was not a perfect movie, but I loved it because it was a labor of love, every single part of it,” he says. “You go through every single variation of the script, and you work on it with the director and the actress, and then you decide whether you can make it better with reshoots. I wish more actors would do it, because I think it would give more connection to what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.”