(CBR) When longtime "X-Men" franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner last week confirmed that Channing Tatum has been cast as Gambit, it wasn’t the announcement that was so surprising — she and the actor have long made their interests clear — but rather the way it was made. When’s the last time plans for a film, and a potential franchise, were trotted out on a press line?

However, what perhaps is surprising is that Tatum came close to playing the Cajun mutant eight years ago.

In the June issue of "GQ," he reveals he was nearly cast as Gambit early in his acting career, in 2006′s "X-Men: The Last Stand," but then the role was written out of the film. When it came time for the character to make his big-screen debut in 2009′s "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Tatum was busy with "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," so the part went to Taylor Kitsch.

“We’re talking about it. I’m proactively sort of going after it,” Tatum tells the magazine in an interview conducted before last week’s announcement. “And I feel bad, because I really love Taylor Kitsch as an actor and what he did with the part, but you know, you’ve got the things that you would really love to do and see.”

He shouldn’t feel too bad, as Kitsch gave his blessing months ago, saying, ” If they cast [Tatum], I wish him nothing but the best. I hope he kicks the [crap] out of it.”

Tatum, who reportedly will debut as Gambit in 2016′s "X-Men: Apocalypse" before getting a solo film, reiterated to "GQ" his fondness for the character, calling him “the only superhero I really followed. … He was the most real to me: smoking, drinking, women-loving, thief. He just looked cool to me. I’ve always loved him. And obviously he’s Cajun.”

The June issue of "GQ," which features Tatum on the cover, goes on sale May 27.

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