Channing Tatum White House Down interview

Hollywood's newest action hero talks about his action smash

Tatum and co-star Jamie Foxx on set
Tatum and co-star Jamie Foxx on set

With the release of his new all out high-octane thriller White House Down, Channing Tatum is positioning himself as Hollywood’s freshest bona fida action hero.

It’s been quite an impressive 12 months for the career of Channing Tatum. In the last year alone the American actor has been the centre of big screen smashes including Steven Soderbergh’s acclaimed Magic Mike, farcical cop comedy 21 Jump Street and toy-inspired adventure G.I. Joe: Retaliation. With this week’s release of White House Down – from director Roland Emmerich, the city-wrecker behind Independance Day, Godzilla and 2012 – the 33 year old looks set to add another accolade to his ever-expanding CV: action star.

So is your white vest in White House Down your homage to Bruce Willis’ John McClane character in Die Hard?
Yeah, everything, [even] the name’s John, John Cale. Someone told me an interesting fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger was never called anything but John in his action movies. I don’t know if that’s true.

When you signed up for this project did you watch a lot of action movies as homework?
Yeah. I was an ’80s/’90s baby so I went to the movie theatre every weekend and there was one on, whether it was Stallone, Van Damme, Seagal or Schwarzenegger himself.

Did you ever think this was the sort of film you’d end up doing?
You never think you’re going to be in a love story, you never think you’re going to be in a comedy, you never think anything. I’ve said before that movies are the highest stakes make-believe game in the world.

What’s it like for you now that you’ve had a few successful projects, in terms of the sort of scripts you get offered?
That’s a good question because, ultimately, recently I’ve been trying to get more behind the camera than I have in front of it, and it just seems like interesting movies and big movies like this [come along]. I’ve always wanted to do a Die Hard. Die Hard’s one of my favourite films. There are only a few directors that can do what Roland does on an international scale and on an action scale. Then when I met him it was sort of just like, ‘I’m definitely in.’

Magic Mike was a huge hit for you. Is there any chance we might see a sequel?
We’re scratching our heads because [Steven] Soderbergh is gone, for directing, at least for a long time. He wants to paint and I think he should, I really do. I think he wants to be done for a while and I don’t think he should make movies if he wants to be done.

I think he should go out on a high note. So that leaves us with who’s going to direct Magic Mike 2?
Greg Jacobs [Wind Chill, Criminal] said he would do it if we come up with the right script. Warner Brothers were like, ‘Well, why don’t you guys do it?’, me and Reid [Carolin, producing partner] and I’m like,
‘I am not going to direct my first movie behind Soderbergh.’ There’s no win there [laughs]. Maybe we’d get someone like Roland to do it.

That would make it a completely different movie!
A reboot, like zoo animals and stuff, who knows? It would be crazy. Everybody’s dying to do it, it’s just it’s got to be right. None of us just want to do some cash grab of a sequel. We want it to be good, because it was a special one for all of us and we all just jumped in family-wise on it. [But] there is going to be a stage version.

What was it like working with Jamie Foxx?
Jamie and I got along from the jump. He’s maybe one of the single-handedly most talented people I’ve ever met in my entire life. The man can literally do anything. There’s a piano in one of the hallways that leads to the White House, and in between takes he was just playing jazz! Then he stands up and he’s Jamie Foxx, kid from Texas, from maybe not the highest-class part of town, he’s one of the boys. Then you get him into the scene and he’s the President. It’s incredible to watch him and he’s such a good guy. I’m learning a lot from him as far as even how to just be in this industry. It’s cool, I love him to death.
White House Down is in UAE cinemas from June 27.

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