Channing Tatum has made no secret that he knows how to dance, and audiences have made it now secret that they love it when he does dance on screen. From STEP UP to MAGIC MIKE, he seems to have covered many diffrent dance styles. Now in the movie HAIL, CAESAR! with the Coen brothers, he learns to tackle the art of tap dancing. There is no one better to learn from then NEWSIES and IN YOUR ARMS choreographer Christopher Gattelli. Tatum talks about tapping away in a sailor suit with Vulture to talk about stepping into new dancing shoes as well as finally getting to work with the Coens.
Tatum’s career may seem like all dreams have been achieved, but there was still one that had yet to be ulocked, working with Joel and Ethan Coen. “I’ve been beating on the Coens’ door for years, man. One of the turning points in my whole career was my audition for No Country for Old Men. They wanted to see everybody – no-names, which I was, and name-names. I was almost 15 years too young for the part [that eventually went to Josh Brolin], but I just wanted to get in the room with them. I know I’m too young. Just get me in the room – I know that when I leave, I’ll be a better actor,” he said. “It was when I realized that I should just try to be around very talented and smart people, and not worry about what the job is, even though I was never going to get it. And then cut to this. It was just so crazy for me to finally be on set with them.”
So when he he was finally contacted them, by email, it was hard to believe. “I can’t exactly remember what the email was. Joel and Ethan – we have the same agent – were like, ‘Look, here’s a part, which we hope you want, because no one else can do it.’ Knowing what it turned into, it’s hard to believe that was the truth. I know there are a lot of other people that could have crushed this thing. Because one, I don’t sing, and two, I don’t tap-dance. So all of that was completely new to me.”
Once he was committed to working with them on the film, only one hurdle was left to tackle, learning the tap dancing routine. “It’s the most I’ve ever prepped for a six-minute section in a movie. We went over Christmas and New Year’s [in 2014], so I had all that time to let it gestate. I let it sink into my bones over the holiday break. When I’m nervous about something, I drill it to a point that is probably unhealthy, but as long as it works even halfway, I’m happy at the end of the tortuous day. ”
“In the script,” he went on to say, “it was like five sentences long – a dance number on a battleship, just a knee-slide, and then cut. And that became a six-minute song with tap-dancing. Chris Gattelli was my tap teacher and choreographer, and without him I never, ever, ever would’ve been able to do this, not in a million years. He believed in me until the day I was about to crack. I didn’t think tap-dancing was going to be easy, but I also had no idea how hard it was actually going to be.”