There are so many surprising things about Steven Soderbergh's next project that we probably ought to grapple with them one by one. First of all it's a new Steven Soderbergh project, announced after he spent months and months promising that he would retire after directing his The Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie and the long-in-development Liberace biopic. Second, this new Soderbergh project will star Channing Tatum. Third, it's based on Tatum's actual experience working as a male stripper in Florida in the late 90s. And fourth, as announced today in Deadline, it will star Alex Pettyfer.

The star of I Am Number Four and Beastly may seem like a logical choice on paper-- he'll be playing the younger version of Tatum and has the right hunky demeanor-- but the rumor mill and a handful of bizarre interviews he gave earlier this year seemed to indicate he was already more trouble than he was worth. Soderbergh has never been a fan of going the easy route for casting, of course-- he cast porn star Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience, and marshaled a bunch of comedians for dramatic roles in The Informant!-- so I guess we can't blame to be too surprised.

The film, called Magic Mike, finds Tatum playing an older character who mentors the younger version of himself played by Pettyfer; "it's a wild summer of dancing, partying and women" promises Deadline. It's unclear exactly when Soderbergh plans to make the movie, since he had also been developing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and has two films, the virus thriller Contagion and the action film Haywire, coming out fairly soon. It's hard to think of a director more unpredictable and enigmatic than Soderbergh right now, and much as I wonder what on earth Pettyfer can offer to his movie, I kind of like that he's managed to throw yet another curveball.

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