Channing Tatum's first response to comedy: 'I don't know how to do that'

Channing Tatum (QMI Agency file photo)

Channing Tatum (QMI Agency file photo)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 PM ET

NEW YORK - Channing Tatum is still a bit nervous about comedy.

He and Jonah Hill, the stars (and producers) of 22 Jump Street, are here together to promote their terrific new sequel — but Tatum says he has yet to see the movie with an audience. That's on purpose.

"I'm going to wait and see it with my wife at the premiere in Los Angeles," says the actor. He then he admits that he put off seeing 21 Jump Street the same way. "Jonah wouldn't let me see it until we got to South By Southwest," says the actor, referring to the famous Austin festival, "because I'd never seen myself in a comedy."

Says Hill, protectively, "It's such a film-going audience at South By Southwest. I wanted Chan to see it with a really rambunctious group of audience members. It was the best screening I've ever been to in my life.”

It may be the second-best after the L.A. screening of 22 Jump Street, but never mind. All things considered, it's a surprise that Tatum is still unsure about being funny. Actually, it's a surprise he's unsure about anything, given the early rave reviews for Foxcatcher, his upcoming Cannes-winning bio that co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell.

Still, says Tatum, his first response to comedy was, "I don't know how to do that."

Even now, he adds, "You don't have this overwhelming feeling it's working. Ever. You think, 'Okay, I think people are laughing sometimes, but I'm not sure it's all going to come together.' It was a form I didn't understand all that well."

Typically, he tackled it anyway. Tatum is a quick study, a gifted athlete and a tireless worker. The actor now confirmed to play Gambit in the next X-Men movie didn't really pick acting so much as it picked him, but he ran with it and made it work.

Tatum was scouted to be a model, then he fell into acting, getting a spot in a Ricky Martin music video. A part in an episode of CSI Miami followed, as did roles in A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, She's The Man and a few other movies.

Then he won the lead in Step Up, the 2006 dance movie that co-starred Jenna Dewan. Tatum and Dewan were married in 2009.

Starring roles followed in Stop-Loss, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, Dear John, Magic Mike, White House Down and The Lego Movie, among others, but Tatum quickly worked out that producing was where he wanted to be; 22 Jump Street is his sixth producer credit.

And writing, which he's doing on the Magic Mike sequel, Magic Mike XXL.

And anything else Hollywood had to offer.

Tatum is also going to produce a stage version of Magic Mike for Broadway.

Asked about gaining the confidence to do what he does, Tatum says, modestly, "I still don't know if I can do it."

He adds, "You just literally go to work every day. We don't know how this movie is going to do," he says of 22 Jump Street. "I've worked every bit as hard on movies that didn't work out. You just do the things that inspire you, that get you up in the morning and hopefully, more work out than don't.

"You just have to have the 'want-to' to get up and go at it every day."

CHANNING TATUM ON FATHERHOOD

Everly, the daughter of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, recently celebrated her first birthday. Asked about fatherhood, the star of 22 Jump Street enthuses about finally being recognized and smiled at.

"It's getting really fun now – not that it wasn't interesting and amazing before, but, for the first seven months, the man is just like a glorified assistant," he jokes.

"It's a one-way street of love, because all she wants is the booby machine. Any time the milk truck comes in, you do not exist."

Adds Tatum, "Now, it's getting to the point where I'm just loving every second of it. It changes you. It changes every decision you make. Everything that seemed important just isn't any more. I'm glad I worked hard before she came into this world," he says, laughing, "’cause now I'm gonna chill out."

A reporter asks if, based on the sex/drugs/rock 'n' roll college chaos depicted in 22 Jump Street, the actor now worries about his daughter going off to university one day.

"Not really," says Tatum. "I'm going to have to explain to her that I was a stripper at some point in my life. So, no — college is not really the worry."


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