Haywire - Channing Tatum
Aaron (Channing Tatum) ©2011 Five Continents Imports

Channing Tatum’s breakthrough role came in 2006’s A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, for which he was nominated for a Independent Spirit Award. He went on to star is such popular movies as Dear John, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Step Up and Public Enemies. He has GI Joe: Retaliation and 21 Jump Street coming out this year.

In his new movie, Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, he portrays Aaron, a trained operative working for a government security contractor, partnering with Mallory Kane, played by Mix Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano. After their mission is completed, Mallory is framed for a crime, and it is Aaron who is hired to go after her to bring her in.

How were you sold on doing this movie?

Haywire - Gina Carano and Channing Tatum
Mallory (Gina Carano) and Aaron (Channing Tatum) ©2011 Five Continents Imports

I got the call and I didn’t even need to know what the role was. I was like, yes. Steven Soderbergh is by far one of my favorite directors of all time. Then I got to talk to him, I got to read the script.

I had meet Gina earlier that year at a Strikeforce fight. One of my buddies is a Strikeforce fighter. She is just a lovely girl. I followed MMA (Mix Martial Arts) for a long time and have been a fan of hers. I saw her first fight. I followed her on Fight Girls, the reality show.

After that I didn’t really need to know anything else. I knew for the first time there was going to be a real fighter in action movies. In some Japanese or Chinese movies you have some action stars that could actually step in the ring and could hold their own, but in America she’s probably the first one.

What was your fight with Gina like in the diner?

Haywire - Gina Carano and Channing Tatum
Mallory (Gina Carano) and Aaron (Channing Tatum) ©2011 Five Continents Imports

We kind of did it really quickly. My wife hates when I say it. Find a girl that you think can whip my butt and I’ll go to her movie. And then they did. And I wanted to be in the movie. She can really do this stuff. There’s no faking it. She only fakes it because she has too. It was fun.

She’s one of the best dancer-athletes that I’ve gotten to move with.

Did you have to overcome the idea of hitting a woman?

Yes, very much so. I grew up in the south and you don’t hit women, you don’t even cuss at them or yell at them, even though people do down there. She had to call me the P-word basically to make me hit her.

I had to smash a ketchup bottle on her face, and we had to do it to see if it was going to break, and how hard I was going to have to do it. I couldn’t physically do it. And then she had to make fun of me, and challenge my manhood to do it.

I finally did it and I realized I made a huge mistake, because I did it way too hard, and her face came back like this (he scowls) .

You see everywhere you go two men fighting. You see it in the bars. You see it on TV. You see it in movies. You very rarely see a man and a women fight, and even more rarely a women beating the hell out of some men. And it was kind of a pleasure.

Can you talk about how your relationship with Soderbergh evolved working on this film and the upcoming film, Magic Mike?

Haywire - Gina Carano, Julian Alcaraz, Channing Tatum and Aaron Cohen
Mallory (Gina Carano), Victor (Julian Alcaraz), Aaron (Channing Tatum) and Jamie (Aaron Cohen) ©2011 Five Continents Imports

How he runs his sets is so unconventional. He’s a very confident filmmaker. I got to learn a lot about freedom, because he hires the people he wants to hire and he expects you to bring something that he’s not expecting. He trusts that your judgments are correct and that really liberated me.

We were sitting over a beer and I told him that I was a stripper for eight months when I was nineteen . And he said that would be a great movie. I was like,  ‘I want to make a movie out of it.’ Then I read an interview where he said that he would direct it if it ever did become a movie.

I called him up, and he said, ‘We should sit down.’ And we sat down at Carney’s over a hot dog, ironically enough, and we decided to do it. My business partner is a writer, and Steven said, ‘Your buddy should write it with you, and we should both finance it, you should act in it, I’ll direct it, and we’ll do it in the next two months.’

My buddy wrote it in one month, and we just finished shooting. We’re in post now and it will be out on June 26th, I think.

How was it like revisiting that experience?

Haywire - Gina Carano and Channing Tatum
Mallory (Gina Carano) and Aaron (Channing Tatum) ©2011 Five Continents Imports

It was really weird. It wasn’t as comfortable as I remembered it. I think I was nineteen, a little dumb and crazy, a lot crazier than I am now. Going back to the town that I did it in, and walking the streets in Tampa that all the clubs are at [was strange].

Being in the same nightclubs that I was really intoxicated in was an interesting revisiting. Walking the same weird little allies and doing it sober this time was fun.

Was there a sense of competition on Magic Mike?

I don’t know how to answer that. There was a healthy competition. It’s really [hard] to walk out in front of a group of girls naked. You get real reactions from them. So when you walk out and take it all off you want to get a good reaction from them.

It’s really hard to be sexy when you’re naked as a guy. Girls can just walk and be hot, but with guys you don’t really want to move a lot!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.