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Channing Tatum is no stranger to dancing on screen. He began his journey to stardom 2006’s Step Up. He’s even given us choreography without most of his clothes in the Magic Mike movies. His newest film, the Coen Brothers tribute to the golden age of Hollywood Hail, Caesar!, required something entirely different. Turns out there’s one kind of dancing that Tatum was not familiar with: tap. Also, he doesn’t sing.
Tatum’s lack of tap dancing experience was a pretty big issue for his role in Hail, Caesar! where the actor has to lead a full Busby Berkeley style musical number. Tatum tells Vulture that’s been trying to work with Joel and Ethan Coen for years. He actually auditioned for the role of Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men, which eventually went to his Caesar co-star Josh Brolin, as he was much too young for the part. Of course, he jumped at the Caesar role when the brothers came to him, possibly not realizing what he was in for.
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.
What it turned into was "ten years of tap training" crammed into a three month period. Channing Tatum credits his choreographer, Chris Gattelli, as well as the trained Broadway dancers he worked with in the scene for getting him through.
Chris kept telling me, ‘I’m not dumbing this down just because you’ve never tapped.' But everybody took care of me to a degree that is not even explainable, so I’m super lucky.
The singing, for better or worse took a back seat to the dancing. Channing Tatum says that he fell back on the idea that if he truly couldn’t pull off the singing, his voice could be dubbed, so he didn’t worry quite as much about being terrible at it. However, it doesn’t look like he was terrible as his voice has been used, though the actor expects that with various digital tools he’ll probably sound acceptable. The scene did give the actor a chance to live out an old dream, however.
When I was younger, just a dumb kid, and Usher came out, I was like, ‘Oh, man, I want to be the white Usher.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, right, I can’t sing.’
The three months of training resulted in a six minute long scene, in the movie-within-a movie, with a song entitled "No Dames." We’ll get a chance to see how all the hard work paid off when Hair, Caesar! arrives in theaters February 5.