So much of the film plays without dialogue, maybe just some music tracking over a scene. Is there an additional push the actors need to do to capture a scene in relative silence?
Steven Soderbergh: “Well, one of the things that people forget, I think, even a lot of people that make movies forget is that, in my mind, a movie should work with the sound off. You should be able to watch a movie without the sound and understand what’s going on. That’s your job, to build a series of chronological images that tell the story. I’m frustrated when I see movies in which I feel like the plot is being told to me instead of shown to me. I also like to stage scenes in which you see a lot of people in the frame at once. So, physicality becomes a really important part of that aesthetic. I need actors who understand how to use their bodies because the shot is going to be up there for a while. You’re going to see them, if not full length, probably down to the thigh. So, all of that stuff becomes really important. Sometimes I’m choreographing moves with the camera with moves that they’re doing. So, they’re sense of having to dance a little bit with the camera needs to be pretty pronounced. In this case, everybody, I think, fell into that very quickly and understood what I was trying to do.”
What did you learn about living the life as a stripper? Were there any surprises?
Channing Tatum: “I was a male stripper. How did you guys liken to the world?”
Adam Rodriguez: “The waxing was an interesting experience. Not quite as painful as I expected.”
Alex Pettyfer: “By the way, me, Kevin Nash, we actually practiced together this one day. Adam and Kevin had walked in after just being waxed and we’re obviously not dancers and we’re trying to get to somewhat the level where we can entertain, and all I see is Kevin Nash and Adam – I didn’t actually wax, I shave in the film – having these moves being very airy because they feel so…yeah, anyway.”
Matt Bomer: “I think this whole experience opened all of us up in some way. I remember being at my sister’s wedding reception a month after we wrapped and I’d had a few drinks and all of a sudden I was doing body rolls on the dance floor. I realized, ‘Matt, it’s time to let go. You can’t take this with you. It’s already been captured on film.’”
Joe Manganiello: “I think the sense of humor about it is what surprised me a lot. At a female strip club things are very serious. You get that archetypal guy that Channing demonstrated, that guy in the trench coat, the serial killer guy with his dollar bills. You don’t really get that at the male strip club. It’s really hard to take yourself seriously with an American flag thong on, with a strategically placed sparkler. There’s just a whole level to it that’s about fun, and I think that’s really the one big thing that I took away was how much fun it was. The hardest thing I think about shooting this movie was biting the inside of my mouth, trying not to laugh as McConaughey is in a yellow spandex halter top with bike shorts, riding on Alex’s hips with a mirror. I mean, come on!”
Matt Bomer: “It was also an exercise in complete commitment. Steven said to us early on, ‘Jump off the cliff and I’ll catch you.’ He’s the kind of director that you believe when he says something like that to you. We were all completely terrified, but it’s not the kind of movie that you can only commit 75% to. You have to go all the way or you’re going to be in real trouble.”
Was there any competition with all of the dancing?
Channing Tatum: “Steven was very competitive, yeah. Steven got up there and he gave it all, he gave it all up.”
Matthew McConaughey: “Let me say this on the competition side. We all got to see Channing dance for the first time so it was obvious. We were like, ‘Okay, the best I can do is get second place.’”
Joe Manganiello: “A very, very distant, distant second place. Chan is in a dancing movie. We’re in a dry humping movie.”
How many hours did you spend in the gym, dieting and working on the choreography?
Steven Soderbergh: “I can only tell you that these guys were so disciplined. They ate like rabbits for six… It was lettuce with, like, lemon juice on it. It was nothing. Really, honestly, I’ve worked on movies with a lot of women who look great and take care of themselves. I’ve never seen this kind of diligence. Look, maybe it was just fear, but also I didn’t sense any competition because I think the fear of doing it bonded you guys really quickly. They’re all sort of jumping out of the plane together. As soon as I saw the routines for the first time I knew we were going to be fine, because they were funny. Like, Joe, was saying, they were fun. They weren’t dirty. They were fun.”
Channing Tatum: “It really was that thing where – I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – most movies, when you’re done with your scene you go home. You go home, you’re like, ‘That’s it. I’m good. I’m going to go home for the day.’ That’s not what happened with everybody. You wanted to see them do their routine and do it well and kill it. Every time that Bomer or anybody came off stage you went back and high-fived them and told them what really worked, and you’re just like, ‘You murdered that.’ It really became a weird team, in a way, like a very weird, strange team. I want to do strip competitions, guys. Can we do that? Can we enter some competitions, strip offs?”
Channing Tatum: “Yeah.”
What were some of the most memorable moments on set? Were there any wardrobe malfunctions or pranks that were pulled?
Alex Pettyfer: “I just want to say one thing. Going back to the thing about how the people watching us were so great and gave us so much, I guess, support. Channing is one of the best dancers I’ve seen, but then there’s another level where Matthew McConaughey comes on stage and from the girls point of view, they don’t sit anymore. They just go like that and rip off Matthew’s thong and leave him in a pit of women, naked.”
Matthew McConaughey: “No. I snuck out of there. I even stayed somewhat on beat.”
Channing Tatum: “He did actually.”
Is that in the movie?
Steven Soderbergh: “You can see that someone tore the string of the thong, and what happened is Matthew, to sort of get out of that situation, did a tuck and roll because of that. You were…come on…he was daring them to do something.”
Channing Tatum: “It was so bad that I felt like, ‘Man, did I not bring it because they didn’t run at the stage like that.’ I mean, these women lost their minds. We didn’t instruct them to. If anything, we were instructing them to do that on the other dances, like, ‘Come on, girls, liven up.’ We didn’t have to do that on Matthew’s. He brought them right in, as he says when he’s talking to Alex in the mirror. He’s like, ‘You’ve got to bring them in. You’ve got to connect to every single one of them.’ He connected right.”
Steven Soderbergh: “I think it was the song that warmed them up.”