Chann's the man

His is a rags-to-riches story that makes for a good Hollywood movie.

Actually, it sort of made it to the big screen two years ago in Magic Mike.

Against all odds, stripper-turned-actor Channing Tatum is set to claim the box-office crown with the release of his latest movie 22 Jump Street, opening here tomorrow.

The buddy comedy sequel to the 2012 hit - 21 Jump Street reaped over US$201 million (S$250 million) worldwide - continues the misadventures of cop partners, dim-witted jock Jenko (Tatum) and nerdy Schmidt (Jonah Hill), as they go undercover in a college to take down a drug ring.

Tatum, who grew up in the bayous of Mississippi in southern US before moving east to Florida in his teens, was an aimless college drop-out. Now at 34, this Hollywood hunk is on a mission to climb to the top rungs of showbiz and it should be an easy task. Seriously, who can take on Tatum now?


Tatum has a body that men envy and women go gaga over. He was not named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 2013 for nothing.

In 22 Jump Street, Jenko's sex appeal boosts his popularity in college and his nifty footwork makes him a favourite on the football pitch.

But Tatum's chiselled physique that we all drooled over in Magic Mike does not come easy - he told GQ magazine recently that if he was not into sports, he would have given in to his "inner fat kid".

A self-proclaimed cake lover, Tatum said he "can completely lose (himself) in just absolutely satisfying things - a really amazing cheeseburger, a pizza, good fries, a beer".

In a separate interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Tatum told the US talk show host that he enjoyed time off from work because he "gets to be fappy - fat and happy".


Tatum has become Hollywood's go-to action man, with flicks like White House Down and G.I. Joe under his belt.

He knows he excels in that and is committed to doing a good job, including executing all his own stunts.

"I think people still think of me as the thick-necked action dude, and that's what it is," Tatum told Entertainment Weekly magazine.

His next big project is next year's Andy and Lana Wachowski-directed sci-fi action flick Jupiter Ascending, where he plays a super soldier who is actually a genetically defective "half-albino, half-wolf". Judging from the trailers, Tatum looks cool - even while sporting strange pointy ears.

Pigeonholed he may be despite having ventured into weepies (Dear John, The Vow) and comedies (21 Jump Street, This Is The End), Tatum's not complaining.

He told GQ: "What I actually respect about this entire business is the hustle of it all and how many people have carved out their purposes in it. Somehow I carved out a place for myself."


What we have seen of Tatum is just the tip of the iceberg.

He is the latest member of the X-Men family, having been hand-picked to play fan favourite mutant, Remy LeBeau aka Gambit, with his solo outing much like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Tatum also surprised everyone at last month's Cannes Film Festival with his dramatic chops in Foxcatcher, a biopic about Olympic wrestling gold medallist Mark Schultz, who he plays. Schultz and his brother Dave were sponsored by paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) in the 1980s - with tragic consequences.

Critics were floored by Tatum's performance.

Wrote The Hollywood Reporter: "Tatum is a smouldering, festering piece of emotional raw meat, able to be manipulated this way and that by his benefactor. You feel his pain."

There was even buzz that he may be the new Matthew McConaughey, a former meathead-turned-Best Actor Oscar winner.


Tatum does not take himself all that seriously, as seen in last year's raunchy comedy This Is The End, where he made a cameo as Danny McBride's sex slave.

Of course, who can forget him rapping to talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's silly music video "I (Wanna) Channing All Over Your Tatum". 22 Jump Street co-star Hill credits Tatum's appeal to his self-deprecating wit.

"You have someone that is beloved by mainstream America playing the most degrading, insane part in an insane film (like 22 Jump Street)," he told GQ.

"When you have a major movie star who really doesn't give a **** about his image and is willing to just do ballsy, creative things, I think people eat it up."


Tatum, who admitted to being a player during his stripper days, has been devoted to his actress-wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum since they met on the set of dance flick Step Up in 2006.

He is even more doting as a dad to their one-year-old daughter Everly.

He recently bragged to People magazine about his diaper-changing skills, saying that he "can do the whole thing while she's crawling or standing up".

"If a guy isn't good at changing a diaper, I don't know what he's there for, really."

This article was first published on June 18, 2014.
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