Channing Tatum's favorite actors may be Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman, but I think he's definitely channeling a little James Dean in his newest cover shoot for the February issue of Details, which hits stands January 19th.
Fan's can check out Chan in all his gorgeousness in the photos and video from the Details photo shoot on today's post in the CTU Photo Gallery, but you should keep reading if you want to get all the juicy details about Chan's life in his latest interview...
I got my first look at Chan's new cover and photos for Details at the 'Dear John' press junket this weekend when Chan's publicist came into his suite to show it to him for the first time. As all of us in the room were complimenting Chan on the hot new shoot, I got to hear the set injury story you're about to read first hand from the man himself. And for the record, all photos of said incident had thankfully been removed from his phone at that point. :-)
Keep reading if you want to know what I'm talking about...
Channing Tatum Is Proud of His Package
What bothers a tough-as-nails action hero? That he can't find a good spot in L.A. to shake his moneymaker.
By Craig Marks, Photographs by Norman Jean Roy
Channing Tatum's penis is gross. It looks like a hot dog that's been left too long on the grill. The tip is hot-pink, singed, and shriveled. It appears angry. And it's painful to view. My penis hurts just from looking at it. Movie stars tend to be vain, by nature and profession, but Chan—that's what everyone calls him—does not mind one bit showing me his sad, withered wiener.
"It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life," he says, flipping through photos on his iPhone until he lands on a grainy snapshot of a scorched member. His scorched member. "I'm good . . . now," he says with a grin. "Now my penis is fantastic! One hundred percent recovered. Put me back in the game, Coach." Tatum's no nancy boy: When not on set, the former high-school-football standout, who did all his own stunts in a movie aptly titled Fighting, spends most of his time in his basement gym, engaged in ball-bruising mixed-martial-arts workouts. "I've been to the hospital, gotten stitches, had broken fingers and toes. But this was a suffocating kind of pain."
We're seated at a picnic table on the slate patio of Tatum's cozy Laurel Canyon home, drinking beers near the pool as the sun drops behind the Hollywood Hills. The famously chiseled star of the 2006 dancesploitation sleeper hit Step Up and '09's boyhoodmemorysploitation blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is happily lugging around some extra pounds between films. "There's this YouTube thing called 'Channing Tatum Got Fat' that has the whole spectrum of me, from model-skinny"—he Zoolandered for Abercrombie & Fitch and the Gap, among others, before breaking into movies—"to my actor weight." When I ask him what he currently weighs, Tatum responds by patting his tummy: "I'm about 20 pounds more than you—around 200. I either have to gain 30 pounds or lose 30 pounds for my next role. I haven't decided which yet." But he knows well that no one's gonna drop 11 bucks to see a doughy Channing Tatum. A stud can dream, though: "I'm gonna give it five more years and then say, 'Get me some fat roles, boys!'"
Sporting sleepy eyes, camouflage cargo shorts, a wicked case of bed head, and a can of Coors Light, Tatum has the chilled bearing of a frat boy the day after the big kegger. On film and in person, he carries his pinup looks and guy's-guy brawn with real lightness and humility—and that's the essence of his appeal. Tatum is a fitting action hero for our downsized times: modest, decent, able-bodied. His house, the first he's ever owned, is situated on a small cul-de-sac, perched on a mountainside, cocooned by trees, and walled all around, but the effect is much less paparazzi-proof fortress—"Trust me, no one is waiting outside to take my picture," he says—than honeycomb hideout, a $2.6 million tree house for the 29-year-old Tatum; his wife, Step Up costar Jenna Dewan; and their two dogs, Lulu and Meeka.
Inside, the place is warm, comfy, and sparingly furnished; unpacked boxes still line the hardwood floors of the upstairs bedroom. "We're both away so much," he says with a sigh. Downstairs, the small living room is unremarkable—a wall-mounted flat-screen, a dog-friendly sectional sofa, some vaguely Moroccan brass-angel knickknacks—save for a large, gushingly romantic Technicolor painting of the couple hanging above the stairwell. In it, Tatum and Dewan are bare-shouldered, staring deep into each other's eyes from inside the outline of a heart. "That was a wedding gift," he says admiringly, commissioned by a friend whose occupation Tatum describes as "life coach."
Back outside, Tatum walks past the Jacuzzi down to a gas fireplace. He turns a knob, then pokes at a log pile to get the blaze going. Lulu, chew toy in mouth, has assumed her spot on the picnic bench. Tatum says he loves that when he wanders out here at night, it's so secluded and peaceful he could almost be back home down South. Almost. He leans over, reaches into a plastic cooler, and grabs another Coors Light. "This is only out here because me and Jenna just had family and friends over for Thanksgiving," he explains. "I don't want people to think I'm a bigger redneck than I already am."
Tatum has recently returned from Scotland, where he was filming a Roman battle epic called The Eagle of the Ninth, directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland). The role is a familiar one: For the fourth time in his brief career, Tatum plays a soldier—this one from Rome's legendary Ninth Legion. "It's really a beautiful story of trust and honor and friendship," he says. He nods thoughtfully, then lets out a laugh. "But I'll never shoot a movie in Scotland again. Ever."
Tatum was pretend-soldiering one raw, wet October day in the Scottish Highlands. The action required him to wade in ice-cold water, which, despite a high-tech wetsuit, could be withstood for only a few minutes. "The only way to keep warm was by pouring a mix of boiling water and river water down your suit. We were finally done shooting for the day, and one of the crew guys asks if I want to warm up before I go. I'm like, Nah, I'm good. And then I thought, Why not? Thing is, he'd forgotten to dilute the kettle water. So he poured scalding water down my suit. And I was trying to pull the suit away from my body to somehow get away from the boiling water, and the more I pulled the suit away, the lower the water went. It just went straight down and pretty much burned the skin off the head of my dick."
Tatum was rushed to the nearest hospital—an hour away. Before long, the ice pack he was applying to the burn lost its chill. "I said to the driver, who was ex-special-forces Marines, 'You might have to knock me out, because I don't know if I can take the pain. Just grab something and hit me on the back of my head.'" Morphine finally KO'd the agony, and a team of doctors salved and bandaged his wound. "I had five guys looking at my shriveled, burned penis," he says proudly.
Sure, plenty of dudes love to natter on about their junk, but it's tough to imagine fellow superstars-in-the-making Shia LaBeouf and Ryan Gosling cheerfully sharing pictures of their gnarled rods with a reporter. Tatum is so unguarded it's almost unnerving. He rhapsodizes about one day writing a "fantastical dansical." When discussing the percentage of his films in which he's appeared shirtless (that'd be 100), he momentarily offers prideful resistance—"In Stop-Loss, I only had it off once"—before helping with the count. "All the time in She's the Man," he says, blushing. "G.I. Joe, too. And all the early films." I decide not to mention that the opening of the trailer for his upcoming romantic soldier drama Dear John shows Tatum bare-chested and dripping wet. How could I? While Tatum's sucking down Silver Bullets from a cooler, he insists on dashing inside to beer me with higher-end brews.
"There's no vanity with Chan," says Amanda Seyfried, who plays his love interest in Dear John, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. "That's the first thing that struck me about him. I saw this intensely good-looking guy, and I expected some vanity. But he's not like that at all. He's not afraid to be embarrassed, not afraid to look stupid. One of the reasons he's such a good actor is that he's not afraid of anything."
To be fair, the jury's still out on how good an actor Channing Tatum really is, will be, or, in green-screen gunk like G.I. Joe, even needs to be. G.I. Joe may have certified Tatum as a box-office draw—it was his first $100 million earner—but his strongest performance to date came in his breakthrough role. In 2006's outer-borough coming-of-age tale A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Tatum played a street tough named Antonio, a pained, charismatic, and brutish dead-ender who thinks only with his fists. The New York Times compared him to Brando; the film's director, Dito Montiel, tosses out McQueen, Pacino, De Niro. "There's something about Chan that feels normal," says Montiel, a no-bullshit dems/dese/dose guy who has cast Tatum in all three of his films. "Most actors today live in a bubble. Chan's a real guy. He's had his ass kicked in real life, and done a little of that, too. That changes you."
Tatum's considerable onscreen presence is still mostly physical. "I've aways been good at picking up certain things, like sports and dancing," he says. In his films, Tatum oozes a jock's bulletproof confidence, but because real men don't swagger, he often undercuts his virility with barn-size gestures of small-town goodness: unfailing manners, aw-shucks humility, courtliness toward women. Tatum calls Clint Eastwood his hero; he says he used to dream about writing a letter to him: "I'm sorry for all of us wimpy actors out there. Please teach me." Not surprisingly, then, a Channing Tatum character usually isn't much of a talker. He admits he tends to mumble his lines. "I had a bad stutter when I was really young," he says. "I couldn't get a sentence out. Like, 'D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-ad.' And that turned into a mumble."
Tatum's father, himself a blue-chip athlete in high school, owned a roofing company until he fell and broke his back; after that, he traveled the South by car, peddling building supplies. The family moved from Alabama to Mississippi's Gulf Coast and finally to Tampa, Florida, where Chan lived out the script to a Very Special Degrassi High episode: excelling as captain of the football team, exchanging promise rings with the head cheerleader, and fending off thoughts about suicide, a side effect of medication he took to treat attention-deficit disorder.
"I was not good in school," Tatum says. "I could never read very fast or very well. I got tested for learning disabilities, for dyslexia. Then I got put on Ritalin and Dexedrine. I took those starting in the eighth grade." The pills worked, too, for a while. "As soon as they pumped that drug into me, it would focus me right in," he exclaims. "I was doing great. I was getting A's, doing extra-credit work!" He laughs, then asks if I need another beer. "But the longer I took the Dexedrine," he continues, "the worse I felt. It sucked all the personality from me. I'd get depressed. I would think suicidal—I was never personally suicidal, but I could see how some kids were, how they'd be, like, I can't take this anymore. Finally, my senior year, I said, 'That's it. I am done with these.'"
After spending a year at a small college in West Virginia on a football scholarship, he returned to Tampa, with no idea what he wanted to do. He bunked with his sister and worked a series of crap jobs: mortgage broker, telemarketer, house framer, record-store clerk, perfume spritzer in a department store. Hump it all day, then slap on the hair gel, guzzle a few, and cruise for trouble in the evenings. One afternoon, he heard a radio spot for a nightclub seeking dancers. Tatum liked to dance, so he turned up at the club to learn more.
"I remember meeting Chan that day," says Adam Martingano, who also answered the ad. "We were standing upstairs there, trying to figure out if this was something we wanted to do." Tatum and Martingano, now a software executive, have been best friends ever since that audition 10 years ago; Martingano was Tatum's best man at his wedding last July, the two are partners in a production company, and they work out together daily at Tatum's gym. Once you've done the bump 'n' grind in a thong next to another bethonged guy as part of a stripper revue called Male Encounter, your bond as BFFs is sealed.
"I've been wanting to talk about this forever!" swears Tatum. "You have publicists and managers saying no, and I'm like, Mmm-mmm, it's gonna come out. I never wanted to hide it." Last September, Usmagazine.com, under the banner CHANNING TATUM'S SECRET STRIPPER PAST, posted a 1999 video of Tatum—billed as "Chan Crawford"—front and center on a Tampa stage, hoofing like a Backstreet Boy in heat, snogging some bachelorette in the front row, then peeling off his shirt, and finally, like an NBA sixth man yanking off his warm-ups, discarding his pants. "Thaaaat's right, ladies," barked the club's announcer. "Chan Crawford is here to pleeeease you!" Only a bulging jockstrap and a thin wall of dead presidents stood between the Sun Coast's horniest housewives and Chan's fantastic penis.
I think it's hil-larious," Tatum says convincingly. "I met some of the most insane characters." He hopes to do for male stripping what Boogie Nights did for the golden age of Valley porn. "I'm gonna make a movie about it. I've talked to a couple of directors." I ask Tatum if his handlers are happy about the prospect of his strapping on the ol' banana hammock again. "I don't care what they think," he answers quickly. "I'm happy I did it. I'm not proud, because it's not something to be proud of, but I had an experience that only one out of a thousand—a million—people can say they've ever had. I've been through this crazy sort of life, and I came out the other side fairly unscathed."
TATUM'S WIFE IS CURLED UP on the living-rooom sofa, studying lines for a film she begins shooting tomorrow. Jenna Dewan is teacup petite, pretty and pie-sweet, a former Texas high-school cheerleader who, like Tatum, started in showbiz as a dancer, touring with Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera. "I didn't even hear you come home, babe," he purrs. "I didn't want to bother you guys," she purrs back.
After dinner options are discussed and takeout menus unsuccessfully searched for, Tatum phones in for Italian. (They've memorized the menu.) While we wait for the food, Dewan has Tatum show me pictures of the two of them playing Band Hero in their living room. Asked to describe a typical evening for one of young Hollywood's hottest couples, the Dewan-Tatums look at each other, nuzzle their dogs, point up to their flat-screen and launch into an impassioned and nuanced disquisition on the genius of Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor.
Plenty of public couples feign the role of homebodies, hoping to burnish their celebrities-are-just-like-us cred, but Tatum and Dewan aren't the sort of actors who can fake the part this convincingly. Tatum's no fool: He likes his life, enjoys the hillside home, the pool, the Escalade, the seven-figure, name-above-the-title leading roles. But he'll tell you without prodding that he doesn't much like living in Los Angeles. It's a necessary evil. He's moved his parents an hour south of here, and that helps some, but still, he may be the one person who, given the choice, would rather be in Tampa.
"L.A. sucks for going out," he spits, and for the first time I get a taste of the spring-loaded rage he brings to his best work. "Everything here is a 'lounge.' Everyone just sits around at a table, drinking a cocktail, looking at each other. There are no dance clubs. Back in Florida, I'm gonna go into a club, get drunk, get sweaty, dance, have a good time, and get a taxi home. There's no place here that does dancing like that." He rises, offers me a final beer from the fridge, then sits back down alongside Dewan. "I miss it, man. I miss it."
As I mentioned before, fans can go to the CTU Photo Gallery to check out all of the photos from Chan's new Details photo shoots and you can even watch a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot below...