VMAN 48 Cover Star: Channing Tatum’s Second Act
The actor-turned-director chops it up with fellow cinema icon and best friend Jonah Hill about the hardships of directing films, the evolution of personal style, and the journey of fatherhood
Jonah Hill spent his 38th birthday at the chiropractor after a painful surf-related injury requires an MRI. But before he can go in for the scan, Hill has to Zoom with 21 Jump Street co-star and best friend, Channing Tatum, who’s laughing on the other end from Ohio. As Hill puts it, ever so emphatically, “If Chan needs me, then I show up. That’s my rule.”
After an upheaval that led the Alabama-native into a brief Hollywood hiatus, Tatum, now 41, is charging into the future playing no games while having all of the fun.
Checking off his most challenging career feat yet—his directorial debut on February 18th with the family film Dog—Tatum is still staying busy, now simultaneously gearing up for the March 25th release of the action-adventure comedy The Lost City, alongside Sandra Bullock. While other fans might be yearning for Magic Mike’s Last Dance—a final encore to the massive franchise which helped catapult Tatum into true international stardom—the highly anticipated film will be going into production later this year. And finally, before 2022 wraps, Tatum is set to launch into the juicy role of a tech billionaire, playing alongside Zoë Kravitz for her own directorial debut in the upcoming thriller Pussy Island.
“They think they want another Jump Street, but they don’t,” Hill muses to Tatum as the VMAN cover star grins and nods in agreement. “It would just be me and Channing talking about his hip, my shoulder, and the medications that we’re on.” But no matter how many chiropractic visits or hip surgeries the two may undergo, the pair’s youthful, loving, and unadulterated friendship will last a lifetime. Boys will always be boys.
From Tatum’s forthcoming projects to the influences surrounding his fashion evolution and the tribulations of single fatherhood, the comedic duo dive into conversation to reach untold depths while leaving out none of the shenanigans.
Jonah Hill: Let me start with Dog. I know, it’s the first movie you co-directed with Reid [Carolin]. I love when people I think are really great artists make their first film—it’s like their first album. You really get to see what they’re about. You’ve been a great actor and producer for a long time. You’ve told stories through Magic Mike and other projects. To me, as a friend and fan, and knowing you as an artist for so long, then getting to see the film, I was just so proud that it’s so uniquely you and Reid as artists.
Channing Tatum: Appreciate that, brother. You know how much that meant to me. Reid and I kind of struggled with what we were going to direct first for a really long time. You know I lost my dog, Lulu. She was like my first child. It was happening at a time in my life when I really did not need to lose my best friend. When I came back and told the boys at the office, I was crying my eyes out, telling them about my experience. And we’re realizing there’s a really beautiful story about surrender here. It always felt very small or, you know, sad. My dog dies and it’s really hard to come back from that when the dog dies in a movie.
We had made a documentary on these Special Forces and Special Operations dogs, Ranger dogs in the military. Then we started to pivot a little bit, into possibly making a bigger movie on a universal level that would reach more people and distill the same themes, and that’s kind of how we got to this idea of a soldier going on a road trip with a dog that he doesn’t really like or want. He’s doing it for his buddy a little bit, but really, it’s because he wants an opportunity to get back into a military-type job. He’s got to take this dog and do it without being able to get back in the game. They go on this road trip and hate each other. We wanted to make something fun.
JH: I always had store-bought dogs that were beautiful idiots, and I never had that deep of a connection to how close you and Lulu were. Now I have a rescue pitbull, Fig, and we have that kind of relationship. I was bawling, multiple times, during the movie, but not in a sad Marley & Me way, but in a profound way.
CT: I think it’s also why we picked a soldier. We wanted an extreme character that doesn’t allow himself to feel his emotions or be soft and open. Then all of a sudden, this dog comes up and they sound like a mom with a newborn, talking to these dogs like they’re babies. We just figured that these dogs somehow unlocked them.
JH: So did you and the dog develop a deep relationship? Or did you have to force it because a dog acting is a nightmare?
CT: No. We had three dogs. Two of the dogs I became good friends with and one dog I stayed a little further away from. And there’s a reason why all dog movies are shot in a certain way— it’s really tough to get a performance with an actor and a dog in the same frame.
JH: Yeah, because they’re a fucking dog. What is your ambition to make another film?
CT: I don’t know if I’ll direct another movie, and I definitely won’t direct another movie with me in it, man, that’s for sure. If I’m being really honest, I don’t feel like I directed the movie the way I wanted. It was tough and felt very rushed. I feel like I need a second chance to direct my first film.
JH: I get that. I wasn’t in my first movie, and I enjoyed that. It’s funny because now the next one I’ve made is a doc, which is coming out next year, but then the next narrative movie I make I think I do want to be in because I want to see what that’s like, so it’s interesting to hear you say that. Let’s move on to The Lost City with Sandra Bullock, which I saw the trailer for. I have not seen this much hype for a movie in a long time.
CT: Dude, the amount of times that I was having complete nostalgic FOMO of us on Jump Street from this movie. I would say the fucking tone of this movie is so crazy. I am so bonkers. I might be crazier in this movie than I actually am in Jump Street, which is really hard to do.
JH: I mean, he’s such a genius character, he’s like the Fabio book model. He thinks he’s actually able to pull this shit off. It just works within like 10 seconds of watching the trailer.
CT: It’s such a feel-good movie. I don’t care if it was the phone book with Sandra Bullock, I’m doing it just because she’s the G of Gs. There’s nothing shocking to me, at all, when you meet Sandra. She’s just exactly who you want her to be–the most wonderful, brilliant sweetheart. She produced the film and knows every single thing on the set and how much it cost, kind of person. Brad [Pitt] in this movie is hilarious. If we ever do Jump Street 3, we have to—I’m telling you, he’s comic gold if you put him with the right character. I’ll tell you who’s probably my favorite actor now…Daniel Radcliffe.
JH: He’s awesome.
CT: God, I think I always get put under the spell of a British person talking. He is so much fun as this crazy, odd villain, and you kind of fall in love with him a little bit.
JH: I have two more big points to hit that I’m interested in. One, your newfound fashion. Like the joy around your fashion sense as of recent. I’ll let you talk about this in any sense you want to talk about it.
CT: It has been a journey, Jonah. I grew up in the South, and you don’t wear anything but like, white t-shirts and chains everywhere. I had a year I called, “the year of the fresh white tee.” [Then] I started getting seen as a model, and I went so deep into the highest fashion world that you possibly can. I was living in New York and [there], you find your own style. When I moved to L.A., dressing became a bit of a chore, it was just another suit for another talk show.
I just got over it. I stopped acting for a while, life changed, and I really wanted to pay attention and figure out who I was—that was like four years ago. Look, I went on a little bit of a journey trying to do Balenciaga and all this shit. And I was just like, ‘This ain’t me either. I don’t know what the kids are doing these days.’ And then some friends of mine, like you and Zo [Zoë Kravitz], were like, “Why don’t you just wear what you wear? Why don’t you just be you?” You gave me some very specific style tips. I’m really enjoying finding my own voice and my own way with some very beautiful guardrails. Jonah, you basically don’t let me look like a fool. So I appreciate you. I’m only mad that it’s taken you this long to give me these tips…you could have helped me a lot on Jump Street.
JH: I could have but you can’t make someone want to change. They have to want it on their own.
CT: I was hanging out with Jason Momoa the other day, and he’s wearing this beautiful pink and white cardigan. And I was like, “How do you pull that off, bro?” Like, I don’t look well in a pink cardigan. I look like an actual school teacher. I put it on and, literally, everyone said, “No, doesn’t work. Take it off.”
JH: I always appreciated your appreciation of whatever you found cool or interesting. I think that’s a beautiful way to live. But I think it was cool to watch you start to understand what worked well for you and develop in that way.
CT: That’s what’s beautiful about having friends like you. Somebody can tell you a perspective that you can’t fully have on yourself. You told me to never wear boots, but I understand what you meant by that now. No boots for me. Boots on you are ok. And I’m glad you cleared that up, because I did feel for a second very betrayed when you went on national TV with boots on.
JH: And then you sent me an angry DM saying, “What the fuck is this?”
CT: I’ll put it to you this way, I was still so mad even though after, I understood what you meant. I still couldn’t respond for a minute because I was just like, I have had—
JH: Yeah, you left me on read for like two days.
CT: Because I’m looking at all my amazing boots that I can’t wear because they’re not for me, but they’re great.
JH: Correct. I think they read a little Mumford and Sons on you and then for me, I need a little more like, butching up sometimes. You have a lot of help in your life. But I do feel like I did play a good part in this style evolution and something I’m very proud of personally, that I didn’t do for the glory. I did it out of love and excitement to see you look so rad. And then, when I saw you on the bike with the vintage T-shirt and the Dickies I was like, “How incredible does this guy look?”
CT: But the only problem is now I’m completely addicted to these vintage apps. Now I don’t even go on Instagram anymore.
JH: I feel like we switched tracks where I’m now super outdoorsy and [into] motorcycles, jiu-jitsu, and stuff. You helped me conceptualize that I could do a lot more of that physical or adventure kind of stuff. So I’m really grateful for that.