Haywire actor Channing Tatum had his hands full battling MMA star-turned-movie star Gina Carano in the film, but that’s exactly what he was looking for in his next film. “My wife hates when I say it, but find a girl that you think can whip my butt, and I'll go to her movie. And then they did,” Tatum said and laughed. “I wanted to be in the movie. Yes, it's for real. She can really do this stuff. There's no faking it. She only fakes it because she has to. It was fun. I've done a lot of action movies and fight scenes, but she's one of the best dancer-athletes that I've gotten to move with.”
Director Steven Soderbergh’s film (check out our Top 10 Soderbergh movies) follows Carano’s spy operative when she is betrayed and marked for death. She makes her way through a plethora of former colleagues (including Ewan McGregor and Tatum) until she gets to the person she thinks is responsible.
One thing Tatum had to get over, even though he sought out a female fighting film, is actually the act of striking a woman. It is something that has been more than ingrained in our minds: Men do not hit women.
“I grew up in the south, and you don't hit women. You don't even cuss at them, yell at them, or anything,” Tatum admitted. “It was pretty different. You see everywhere two men fighting. You see it in the bars. You see it on TV. You see it in movies. You see it everywhere. You very rarely see a man and a woman fight, and even more rare a woman beating the hell out of some man. And it was kind of a pleasure.”
Carano even had to resort to verbally questioning his manhood to get the reality of two operatives going at it to the death (as you can see in the Haywire clip below). “She had to call me the p-word, basically, to make me hit her. I had to smash a ketchup bottle on her face! It was so alarming to see a beautiful girl sitting across from me and I couldn't physically do it. I finally did it, and I realized I did a huge mistake because I did it way too hard. Her face came back like I was in trouble,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I'm going to have to play this smart.”
Tatum also had to get over his fanboy appreciation of Carano. The actor is a huge MMA fan and has followed her career for years. “I followed MMA for a long time and had seen her first fight. She's the first sanctioned MMA woman to fight. That was a pretty monumental occasion. I also followed her on Fight Girls -- the reality show,” Tatum said. “I had met Gina earlier that year at a Strikeforce fight. One of my buddies is a Strikeforce fighter. She is just a lovely girl.”
As an action movie aficionado, he also appreciated that there was someone kicking ass in the film that off screen could really mess somebody up. “I knew there was going to be a real fighter in an action movie. It’s rare. There might be in some Japanese or Chinese movies where you have some action stars that could actually step in the ring and could hold their own, but in America, she's probably the first one,” Tatum said.
Joining Haywire was a twofold joy for the actor -- working with Carano clearly, but also being able to act in a Soderbergh film fulfilled a lifelong dream. “I got the call and I didn't even need to know what the role was. I was like, ‘yes.’ I didn't really need to know anything else. Soderbergh is, by far, one of my favorite directors of all time,” he said.
If Tatum is delirious when it comes to his good fortune, it is because he is working with Soderbergh again, this time on a very personal story, Magic Mike (check out Tatum in a Magic Mike still). Tatum spent a little less than a year working as a male stripper when he was younger. When the filmmaker heard his tale, he thought it would make for a fantastic film. Filming of that flick has clearly also been one of Tatum’s career highlights.
“I've read so much on him and how so many actors learn. How he runs his sets is so unconventional -- and he's a sort of smooth and very confident filmmaker. I got to learn a lot about freedom and taking it on your own, because he hires the people he wants to hire and he expects you to bring something that he's not expecting. And he trusts that your judgments are correct, and from that it really liberated me,” Tatum said.
Tatum was having a beer with the filmmaker when he mentioned in passing his stripping experience. Soderbergh told him, “You should write it."
“And I'm like, ‘Yeah, Steven Soderbergh, I'll go write that,’” he said, laughing. “We sat down at Carney's over a hot dog, ironically enough, and we decided to do it. We're in post now, and it will be out June 26th. Hopefully we'll keep it going. I want to work with him again and again.”