Director Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike opens in theaters this weekend (read our review). The film follows the story of Mike (Channing Tatum), who is hustling his way though several different jobs, projects and side ventures, in pursuit of his dream to open a custom furniture business. “But wait, I thought this was about male strippers” you say?
Ostensibly speaking it is, but this is a Soderbergh offering – so you’re going to discover that if you want to, you can find number of other themes, ideas and interesting elements in the film. Fear not, however, Mike’s central source of both income and distraction is, indeed, stripping. When he is tasked with mentoring a protege (Alex Pettyfer), Mike has to confront who he’s become and where he wants to go. In the midst of all this, there is plenty of male-dancing, butt-shaking, abtacular fun to be had.
Inspired by Tatum’s own experience as a male stripper, Soderbergh tasked the actor and first time screenwriter Reid Carolin with the creation of the script that he would direct from. We recently had the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles press conference for the film with the director and cast. Take a look at the full transcript from the event below:
There are a lot of dance montages in this movie. Are we going to see the full numbers on the DVD, like Matt’s Ken Doll number? And Channing, can you talk about dressing like Marilyn Monroe and are you ready for a cameo on Smash?
Channing Tatum: “Do you have any cash on you? Do you have any one dollar bills?”
Steven Soderbergh: “We have edited together the full-length versions of all the routines. They’re pretty disturbing. Honestly, it’s very…we sent them all to Sue Kroll at Warner Brothers and she said, ‘I really like these a lot.’ I think it’s not for men, these things. It made me really uncomfortable to watch them. We did 10 or 12, [and] to watch them all back to back was really disturbing. So, I don’t know.”
Channing Tatum: “I don’t think that people get that they all end the exact same way. [...] They all start clothed and end naked, and there’s no really cool editing happening to miss the really gory parts. But Marilyn, as far as that goes, I don’t think Lee wants me on that show. That would just be a bad idea, but I would do it. I’ll have you stand in.”
Matt Bomer: “I’m there.”
What did you think about the outfit and dressing up in it?
Channing Tatum: “Yeah, 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.”
Matthew, what does your new wife think about this movie, and can you talk about your dance routine? Were you nervous?
Matthew McConaughey: “Sure. My wife now, girlfriend at the time, actually showed up, snuck in quite a few days and she gave me the thumbs up and said, ‘Go for it, baby.’ So, she’s going to like it.
My dance routine, was I nervous? I was very nervous, yeah. Before going out on the stage to dance, even if you’re not taking your clothes off, for everyone live, is kind of nerve-wracking, but then knowing you have to strip down – very nerve-wracking. Then after doing it once, God, I wanted to get up there and do it again. That was a lot of fun. When I first talked to Steven, he called to offer the role of Dallas to me. He had pitched the story and told me who this guy was and 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 here and imagination can go somewhere?’ He said, ‘Well, this guy Dallas is pretty connected with UFOs, man.’ So, that was a great launch pad. It was a pretty roofless bit of direction on the phone in the beginning and so I knew that I was going to be able to fly. That was really fun to play someone so committed in many ways.”
It seems that if you made a movie about female strippers and men reacting excitedly that it’d be lascivious. What is it that differentiates those two experiences that allows us to enjoy this experience and see this as fun?
Matthew McConaughey: “Channing does a very good impersonation of men at female strip joints.”
Channing Tatum: [growling and drooling]. “No, I just think we’re trying to do our part to objectify men for the first time in movies.”
Is there something about shooting that enables that celebratory thing?
Steven Soderbergh: “I just can’t believe we’re having a press conference for a stripper movie. It’s really hard to be serious. Look, now that people are starting to see the film, I think there might’ve been a concern for men who were having to see the film that really the movie was so driven towards the female audience, that there would be nothing in it for them to sort of latch onto. Of course I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do, that in point of fact some of the issues that the male characters are going through are issues that all men confront about what they want. Men tend to define themselves by what they do, and so if you’re dealing with a character who’s trying to figure that out, or multiple characters, then there’s something there for guys, too. When we tested the film the female scores were not significantly bigger than the male scores. I mean, guys liked it. The trick is, I think, getting them to come, but we’ll see what happens.”
Joe Manganiello: “I think if you’re a smart, single guy you’re going to go see this on a Friday or Saturday night because guess who’s going to be in the theater?”
Channing Tatum: “And if you’re really smart, you’ll wear a fireman’s outfit and you just might go home with a few numbers, or even better, someone.”
Joe Manganiello: “Don’t forget your axe.”
Would you say that Dallas is kind of delusional when you talk about him communicating with UFOs, him saying, “I want to bring you to the universe?”
Matthew McConaughey: “[...]I’m going to speak as Dallas here, okay? 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, baby. We’re going lunar.’ He doesn’t just want to take over the male revue on the planet earth. He wants to control the solar system.”
Channing Tatum: “Dubai is next.”
Matthew McConaughey: “Dubai is a start, yes. We start with four thousand square feet of prime real-estate in South Beach and then move to Dubai, and like he says, he’s got a great idea, ‘We’re going to simulcast.’ He’s a big thinker, that Dallas. So, no, not delusional, at least not in his mind, whatsoever.”
Matthew, you have more movies coming out this year than Channing does…
Matthew McConaughey: “Is that possible?”
Do you feel this is a renaissance year for you?
Matthew McConaughey: “Well, I made five in a row last year. I went back to back to back to back to back, and it was my most creative, constructive and fun working year 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, and 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 and some very interesting stories and all characters that didn’t really pander or placate to any laws, government, parental guidance, what have you. When I say committed characters, that’s really fun because it’s boundless how far you can go, almost four dimensionally. I mean, with Dallas, in this role, I couldn’t get pinned down with writing down ideas and things and sending off emails. The verbiage of this guy’s mind just kind of flew.”