Now that I've seen both "21 Jump Street" and "Haywire," I am officially prepared to say that 2012 is the year Channing Tatum turned the corner.
I've known people who are fans of his work since "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints," and I've certainly seen most of his films up to this point. I've always felt like he was tough to cast just right, and whatever his most vocal supporters saw in that work, I wasn't seeing it. I thought he showed signs of life in things like "Stop-Loss" or his supporting freakshow role in "The Dilemma," but he still wasn't connecting for me across the board.
Now, with this one-two punch, I'm seeing a much looser, funnier, alive presence onscreen, and I think the same is true of our interview when we sat down to talk about "Haywire." I'm not sure what happened, but it can't just be that the material is better. It's like something opened up inside of him, and suddenly he's able to project whatever that new energy and joy is, and it's really apparent in the work.
He seems particularly thrilled by what's happened between him and Soderbergh, a collaboration that's going to continue in "Magic Mike" later this year, a film that's based on some of Tatum's true stories about his time as a male stripper. Being able to take this job that some people would desperately try to keep a secret and turn it into a film that looks like something really different from Soderbergh is a big step, and it speaks well of Tatum overall. He's not going to let one job he did define him, and he's not going to hide from his own past. Instead, he's repurposing it into something that will hopefully continue this new open quality in the work.
We talked a little bit about "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" during what we thought was a technical hiccup, and we ran that the other day. The rest of the interview is embedded above, though, and at this point, I'm curious to see where Tatum goes from here. Can he build on this moment and can he keep making strong choices about what roles to take? Let's hope.
"Haywire" opens everywhere tomorrow.