Magic Mike tells the story of an entrepreneur named Mike (Channing Tatum), who is a man of many talents and seemingly endless charm. When he’s not roofing houses, detailing cars and designing his own furniture, he’s headlining an all-male revue in Tampa that’s run by club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and features Ken (Matt Bomer), Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez). He sees potential in a 19-year-old co-worker who he calls the Kid (Alex Pettyfer) and takes him under his wing to teach him how to make easy money while taking full advantage of the lifestyle, but quickly realizes that he’s really looking for something more for his own life. For more on the film, here’s twelve clips.
At the film’s press day, co-stars Channing Tatum (who’s also one of the film’s producers), Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood) talked about their lack of wardrobe, why male strip clubs are different than female strip clubs, how nervous they all were for their big dance numbers, what surprised them about making this film, and their favorite costumes. Channing Tatum also talked about how he, himself, ended up stripping at 18 and why he decided to stop. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
CHANNING TATUM: My wife married a stripper, so she knew what she was getting into and she made that a prerequisite for the marriage. I just respect [the cast] for jumping into the thong with both feet and out onto the stage because I’ve done it before, and it was still nerve-wracking for me. I can’t imagine what they had to go through. [Matt] Bomer had to go first. I felt so bad for that. I was like, “Maybe I should go first.” Everybody just committed. Every single person just went for it. I wish we had time in the movie to show everybody’s dance because everybody worked so hard on them. It’s a humbling thing to get up, there where you’re left with very little to the imagination, in front of almost 300 people. It’s very, very nerve-wracking.
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY: As far as trusting wardrobe, it is one of the larger leaps of faith to trust a thong.
TATUM: Sometimes they completely betray you.
McCONAUGHEY: It weighs what a dollar bill weighs. It weighs nothing. At the end of the performance, that’s the only protection I had. The first time, putting it on, you’re going, “What is every possible angle I could be in?” I had to check to see if everything was covered. You don’t understand how it is, but for the most part, it is. I had to put on the thong, and then walk around and try to have normal conversations. You’ve gotta talk about football or what you ate last night. You lean against a wall and you’re just like, “No, I’m just hanging out, man,” to get comfortable with it. The first time you put it on, your body contorts. You have to straighten up and put your shoulders back and your hips out. It is somewhat unnatural. Channing would be there, just talking about what’s going on in the scene with Soderbergh, and he was in his red thong, just working it out. There’s nothing weird about Kevin Nash in a thong, talking to you about Picasso’s Cubism period.
If you made a movie about female strippers that had men reacting as excitedly as the women do in this movie, it would be a very different thing. What is it about those two experiences that allows us to see this as fun, as opposed to being sleazy?
TATUM: I just think we’re trying to do our part to objectify men, for the first time, in movies.
JOE MANGANIELLO: If you’re a smart, single guy, you’re going to go see this on a Friday or a Saturday night ‘cause guess who’s going to be in the theater.
TATUM: And if you’re really smart, you’ll wear a fireman’s outfit. You just might go home with a few numbers or, even better, someone.
MANGANIELLO: And don’t forget your axe.
Did any of the ladies playing the club patrons take their roles a little too seriously and get a little too enthusiastic?
MATT BOMER: Yeah, I think those were all happy accidents, when that happened. It was part of the world. If they wanted to lick you in certain places or touch you or whatever, it was welcomed. It was just part of the world we were creating.
TATUM: You’ve gotta commit. It very much informed our performance. They were there for awhile and they became our friends. You’d get off stage and they’d be like, “That was a really good one! That part where you did that thing, that was great!”
TATUM: [The women got] so bad with Matthew that I was like, “Man, did I not bring it?!” They didn’t run at the stage like that [for me]. The women lost their minds, and we didn’t instruct them to. If anything, we were instructing them to do that with the other dancers. We were like, “Come on, girls! Liven up! You’ve gotta give it!” And we didn’t have to do that with Matthew. He brought them right in. As Dallas says, “You’ve gotta bring ‘em in! You’ve gotta connect to every single one of them!”
Matthew, were you nervous for your big dance number?
McCONAUGHEY: I was very nervous, yeah. Before going out on the stage to dance, even if you’re not taking your clothes off for everyone, is really kind of nerve-wracking. But then, knowing you’ve got to strip down, it’s very nerve-wracking. Then, after doing it once, I wanted to get up there to do it again. That was a lot of fun! When I first talked to Steven [Soderbergh], he called to offer the role of Dallas to me, and he pitched the story and told me who this guy was. I was laughing really hard on the phone and said, “Yes.” I said, “Can you give me one line, just so I can hang up the phone and walk away and have my imagination go somewhere?” He said, “This guy, Dallas, is pretty connected to the UFOs.” So, that was a great launchpad. That was a pretty roofless bit of direction on the phone, at the beginning. I knew that I was just going to be able to fly. It was really fun to play someone so committed, in many ways.
McCONAUGHEY: Dallas is absolutely not delusional. Dallas is working his ass off to be the messiah of the male revue universe. As he says, “The moon is merely a chip shot away. We’re going lunar!” He doesn’t just want to take over the male revue on planet earth. He wants to control the solar system.
TATUM: Dubai is next.
McCONAUGHEY: Dubai is a start. He’ll start with 4,000 square feet of primetime real estate in South Beach, and then he’ll move to Dubai. Like he said, he’s going to simulcast. He’s a big thinker, that Dallas. So no, he’s not delusional. At least, not in his mind, whatsoever.
Channing, what was it like to dress up as Marilyn Monroe? Are you ready for a cameo on Smash?
TATUM: I don’t think they’d want me on their show. That would just be a bad idea, but I would do it. Dressing up as Marilyn, I did that to a buddy of mine, on his birthday. He was eating at a restaurant, and I walked in as Marilyn and basically sang him “Happy Birthday” and embarrassed the hell out of him. So, we just decided to put it in this movie for fun.
MANGANIELLO: Big Dick Richie doesn’t have bigger dreams. He knows what his big dream is.
TATUM: It’s less about the male dream than it is about the female dream with Big Dick Richie.
MANGANIELLO: This is the best place for him. It’s about club life. It’s about being trapped in this life. It’s a very attractive, shiny place to be. People get stuck in it and years go back. The Kevin Nash character is the perfect example. He’s the Keith Richards of male strippers. He’s figured out the chemistry. He’s a lifer. He’s in his 50s and he’s still there. He’s going to OD, every other day. But, that’s it. You go in there as this fresh-faced kid, probably underage, and you wake up 20 years later going, “What the hell did I do?” That’s what at the heart of it.
TATUM: To build upon that, I think everybody either knows somebody or has experienced it themselves, whether they did or didn’t graduate college, where you’re like, “Okay, what do I do now?” You have the dreams that you want, and then you have to do other jobs until you can get to that dream. Mike, and a lot of these guys, just fell into this thing and it was fun, and then years just ticked on, as the party was happening. All of a sudden, it’s seven years later and you’re like, “Wow, I don’t really have very much to show for it. I’m not any closer to my dream.” At some point, the party just got in the way and became your life. I think that’s happened to a lot of people. They just get sidetracked.
BOMER: I think this whole experience opened all of us up, in some way. I remember being at my sister’s wedding reception, a month after we wrapped. I’d had a few drinks and, all of a sudden, I was doing body rolls on the dance floor. I realized, “Matt, it’s time to let go. You can’t take this with you. It’s already been captured on film.”
MANGANIELLO: I think the sense of humor about it is what surprised me a lot. At a female strip club, things are very serious. You get that archetypical guy in the trench coat, who’s like a serial killer with dollar bills. You don’t really get that, at the male strip clubs. It’s really hard to take yourself seriously with an American flag thong on that has a strategically placed sparkler. There’s a whole level to it that’s just about fun. That’s really the one big thing that I took away. The hardest thing about shooting this movie was biting the inside of my mouth, trying not to laugh when McConaughey was in a yellow spandex halter top with bike shorts, grinding on Alex Pettyfer’s hips in the mirror. I mean, come on, man!
BOMER: It was also an exercise in complete commitment. I remember when Steven said to us, early on, “Jump off the cliff and I’ll catch you,” and he’s the kind of director that you believe when he says something like that to you. We were all completely terrified, but it’s not the kind of movie you can only commit 75% to. You have to go all the way, or you’re going to be in real trouble.
When you were up there doing your performances, were you competitive with each other?
McCONAUGHEY: On the competition side, we all got to see Channing dance for the first time, so it was obvious that the best you could do was get second place.
MANGANIELLO: Chan’s in a dancing movie. We’re in a dry-humping movie.
TATUM: With most movies, when you’re done with your scene, you go home. You’re like, “That’s it! I’m good! I’m gonna go home for the day.” That’s not what happened with everybody [on this movie]. You wanted to see them do their routine and do it well. Every time that anybody came off stage, you went back and high-fived them and told them what really worked. You were just like, “You murdered that!” It really became a very weird, strange team. I want to do strip competitions. Can we enter some strip-off competitions?
TATUM: I loved all my costumes. I have all mine.
McCONAUGHEY: I kept all of mine. As soon as we found the leather pants, on the first day with the costume designer, we were like, “Okay, that’s Dallas’ staple.”
MANGANIELLO: I’ve had many requests for the fireman suit.
BOMER: I liked them all, too. The Ken doll was really fun. But, I really liked all the group numbers we got to do, as well. Ken was kind of a hippie, so the only thing I took home was the tiger’s eye necklace.
MANGANIELLO: When I die, I want my memoriam at the Oscars to be me as the gold man.
This is a movie about entertainers caught in the struggle between art and commerce. How do you feel you relate to that theme?
TATUM: I feel very undervalued, especially this year.
BOMER: I think you work on the roles that draw you in, and the stories you want to tell. If you’re lucky enough to get to work with a director like Steven, all the better. But, this was one of those movies where I felt like it was the best of both worlds.
MANGANIELLO: This was filmed as this little indie movie expose. We all signed on to work with who we got to work with, on the script that we got to work on, and in the world that we got to work in. The big shock to me was when all the studio executives were coming to filming, every day. I was like, “Wait a minute, everyone is gonna see what I just did to that girl?!” We all came into it with this great spirit. The fact that it’s snowballed into what it’s snowballed into is exactly what you hope for. You work on a project to make the artist happy. Hopefully, you end up making the filmmaker happy, too.
What was more challenging, getting into character, putting on the wardrobe or learning the routines?
TATUM: They were all pretty equal. It wasn’t so much hard. The routines, you really wanted to do them well and perform them well, but it wasn’t hard. They were all fun and hilarious. I remember the first day they were like, “All right guys, you’ve learned these routines, so it’s time to get naked now, boys. It’s gotta happen, sooner or later.” Everybody just went out and did it, and you were like, “Okay, nevermind. This is not going to be as hard as I thought it was going to be. This is going to be pretty easy!” Everybody just went nuts.
Channing, why did you stop stripping?
TATUM: I was undervalued, so I stopped stripping. No. Look, I was 18 years old. I had worked three jobs and stripping was just one of them. I really enjoyed performing. It was probably my first performing job, ever. I really liked to dance, obviously, but I didn’t really love taking the clothes off, at the end. The world, in itself, was just a very dark world. I don’t think we even scratch the surface of really how dark that place can get and how slippery of a slope it can actually be. This was probably the most palatable version of this movie. Otherwise, you wouldn’t want to see it twice. You’d just be like, “Okay, I feel dirty now.” I think we blade ran that topic. When I got out, I kept working in the clubs, but I went with some of my boys that dance as well and we just put on shows at this one nightclub. We would put on these crazy shows in the back that we didn’t get naked in.
Do you miss anything about your time as a stripper?
TATUM: I don’t miss anything about that world!
Channing, this movie is based on your own life. What do you have to say to the two male strippers in Florida that claim you didn’t give them the credit that you should have?
TATUM: I was waiting for somebody to bring this up! Look, there is nothing that’s factual in this whole movie, other than the fact that I was an 18-year-old kid that went into this world. I dropped out of college and playing football, and was living on my sister’s couch. There’s not one character that I took from my real life. This is just the world that I went into and that I had a perspective on, and we created everything from a fictional place. Those guys have been trying to make money off of me since I got into this business. London was one of the guys that sold the video that [Steven Soderbergh] saw and liked, and then we made a movie of it. They’re very interesting people. I don’t want to say anything bad about them ‘cause they’re part of the reason why I think this world is so interesting. They’re very interesting, intriguing, bizarre characters. I’m thankful for weird people out there ‘cause they’re some of the most creative people.
McCONAUGHEY: I made five movies in a row, last year. I went back to back to back to back to back. It was my most creative, constructive and fun working year that I’ve ever had. I did not have one single day, in all five films, where I was not excited to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. I didn’t have one hour of complacency, in any of the work I did, in five films. I’m happy to be able to say that because that’s not always been the case. It’s fortunate to be able to say that. And I got to work with a lot of very interesting directors on some very interesting stories. They were all characters that didn’t really pander or placate to any laws, government, parental guidance, or what have you. They were very committed characters, and that’s really, really fun. It’s boundless, how far you can go. It’s almost four-dimensional. With Dallas, in this role, the verbiage of his mind just flowed.
Click here for all our previous Magic Mike coverage which includes more interviews, clips, posters and images.