Channing Tatum shot to stardom as the star of “Step Up” (2006), a classic high school romance set in the world of competitive dance which showcased the former model’s ripped physique and hinted at untapped dramatic depths.
Tatum enjoyed another teen success with “She’s the Man” (2006), before unveiling surprising acting chops in the acclaimed coming-of-age drama, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” (2006), which was a hit at that year’s Sundance Film Festival and earned the newcomer a nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. With a prominent role in the war drama “Stop Loss” (2008) and big budgeters “Public Enemies” (2009) and “G.I. Joe” (2009), Tatum carved out a career playing imposing Brando-esque physical characters with a believably sensitive bent.
Tatum was born April 26, 1980, in the small Alabama town of Cullman. He was raised in the rural Mississippi bayou and spent his teenage years in Tampa, FL, where his high profile in football, baseball, track and martial arts earned him the distinction of Most Athletic at Tampa Catholic High School. But he also frequently found himself on the wrong side of that school’s administration’s rule and spent time in military school to work on his discipline problems. Tatum turned down a football scholarship to a West Virginia state college and was living in Miami when was approached on the street by a talent agent. At the agent’s urging, Tatum began print modeling, eventually finding himself traveling the world and representing the lines of Armani and Abercrombie and Fitch.
The young talent segued onto the screen in commercials for Mountain Dew and Pepsi and landed his first acting role in a 2004 episode of “CSI: Miami” (CBS, 2002-). His whirlwind career and exposure to new horizons beyond the American South ignited a number of creative passions in Tatum including dancing, writing and acting, which he decided to pursue full-time. His physique immediately landed him supporting roles in competitive sports films including “Coach Carter” (2005), starring Samuel L. Jackson, and the low budget “Supercross” (2005).
Following a supporting role in the upper-class-teens-emulate-inner-city-gangsters flick “Havoc” (2005), which received most of its notice for star Anne Hathaway’s nude scenes, Tatum auditioned for the role of mutant hero Gambit in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006). The character was eventually dropped from the script, but the film’s producer Lauren Shuler-Donner saw Tatum’s star potential and cast him as the dim-witted romantic lead opposite Amanda Bynes in the sitcom-like “She’s the Man” (2006). That hunky supporting role did not jettison Tatum to stardom, but that happened with his follow-up leading role as the streetwise hip-hop dancer partnered with a ballerina-in-training (Jenna Dewan) in “Step Up” (2006). Despite largely negative reviews, the high school-set romance was a hit with teen audiences, thanks in part to a substantial and sexy advertising campaign and the stars’ guest appearance on the Fox talent contest, “So You Think You Can Dance” (2005- ). Word that the on-screen stars had become an off-screen item further fueled romantic fairy tale visions of the new pin-up king. Happily together for over three years, Tatum and Dewan would wed in Malibu, CA on July 11, 2009.
In a surprising turn of events following his success in formulaic teen fare, Tatum gave a powerful performance as the leader of a tough group of New York teens who is beaten at home and takes his aggression to the streets in “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” (2006). The coming-of-age drama indie based on the youth of first-time filmmaker Dito Montiel earned the Director’s Prize and a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for the entire cast, as well as an Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor nomination for Tatum. He again brought a depth to an alpha male type with his role as an Iraq war veteran emotionally uprooted and trying to return to civilian life in Kimberly Peirce’s affecting “Stop-loss” (2008). However, audiences avoided the film as they had the slew of other Iraq war films released that year.
Tatum teamed up again with filmmaker Montiel in 2009’s “Fighting” (2009), a fable-like tale of an Alabaman trying to get by on the streets of New York City who unwittingly ends up on the underground fighting circuit. Tatum received raves for his performance in the markedly realistic portrayal of life at the edges of society. He appeared in two more testosterone-charged films that year. The first was a supporting role alongside Johnny Depp’s portrayal of famed Chicago gangster John Dillinger in “Public Enemies” (2009). His dashing and tough turn as Pretty Boy Floyd led to his leading role opposite Dennis Quaid as big screen incarnations of the classic action figures, “G.I. Joe” (2009). In 2010 Tatum returned to screens as another conflicted soldier in “Dear John,” a Lasse Hallstrom-directed adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel exploring love after loss.