After only seven years since first appearing on the big screen, stripper-turned-actor Channing Tatum is coming full circle in Magic Mike, which is now playing in theaters everywhere. The Steven Soderbergh-directed film has Tatum playing the titular character—a veteran stripper looking to make a living with his clothes on—who teaches a newbie (Alex Pettyfer) about the occupation. The beefcake flick also co-stars Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello and Matt Bomer, and is hotly anticipated by women...and select men.
After retiring from stripping for real, Tatum landed his first movie role as a basketball player in Coach Carter. Some supporting roles followed until he was cast as a jock again—this time a soccer player—in the 2006 gender-bending romantic comedy She's the Man. That same year Tatum called upon the dancing skills from his previous profession in Step Up, on the set of which he met his future wife, co-star Jenna Dewan.
Although his all-American athlete looks made Tatum a natural choice for these teen movies, he has proven appealing in other genres as well. After being gunned down in a cameo as Pretty Boy Floyd in Public Enemies, Tatum spent the next few years alternating between weepy romantic dramas and bigger-scale action roles. He played the lead soldier in G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra—a movie that cost $175 million and ended up pulling in over $302 million worldwide despite the mostly negative reviews. Tatum will reprise the role in next year's G.I. Joe: Retaliation, so someone believes that Tatum is packing heat.
In the historical epic The Eagle, Tatum plays a Roman centurion out to discover what happened to the Ninth Legion that disappeared in northern Britain in the year 120 A.D.
Before Magic Mike, Tatum worked for Soderbergh as a guy who makes the poor decision to tangle with MMA star Gina Carano in the opening diner fight sequence in Haywire. Director and star must have felt comfortable enough together that Tatum agreed to bare all in Magic Mike.
The critics weren't too kind to Tatum in the weepy rom-dram Dear John, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and co-starring Amanda Seyfried, but Dear John will go down in history as the movie that knocked Avatar out of the top spot at the box office after seven weekends in first place. Tatum turned to a tearjerker again in The Vow, in which he plays an inhumanly patient husband whose wife (Rachel McAdams) has lost her memory of their relationship after an accident.
Although alternately appealing to male audiences in action roles and female audiences in chick flicks, Tatum has more recently been putting a smile on both genders' faces as an unlikely comedy star. Not many expected 21 Jump Street—based on the '80s TV show starring Johnny Depp—to be any good, but the action comedy starring Tatum and Jonah Hill as two cops who go undercover as high school students to bust a drug operation is pretty hilarious thanks to the comic timing and bromantic chemistry between Tatum and Hill. 21 Jump Street was just released on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD to tickle your funny bone before Magic Mike tries to tickle your other parts.
Note: Click on any of the above movie titles to find out how you can watch the movies this weekend.