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Steven Soderbergh casts Alex Pettyfer as Channing Tatum’s MAGIC MIKE co-star

Kate Erbland

by: Kate Erbland
May 12th, 2011

Alex Pettyfer

Both the concept and the pedigree of MAGIC MIKE leave me flummoxed and slightly cross-eyed. On one hand, it is the film that supposedly kept director Steven Soderbergh from that retirement he’s been hinting at for awhile now. On the other hand, it’s a movie about male strippers, starring Channing Tatum, based on Tatum’s own experiences. And now Soderbergh has added Alex Pettyfer to the cast – a good-looking bet, no doubt, but a somewhat unproven talent.

Pettyfer will co-star with Tatum in the film, with Pettyfer playing the real-life Tatum-inspired role as the young stripper and Tatum serving as his mentor, the titular Magic Mike. The film will be set during “a wild summer of dancing, partying, and women.” Soderbergh himself has called it "sexy, funny and shocking.” The script has been written by Reid Carolin (who previously produced other Tatum projects, like STOP-LOSS and the upcoming TEN YEAR). Again, unproven talent. But, damn it all if Soderbergh as director doesn’t stop me from writing off this whole thing as some weird vanity project.

I’ve been a longtime supporter of Tatum, who first caught my eye with his explosive work in A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, followed up by a funny turn in SHE’S THE MAN and some fancy footwork in STEP UP. But Tatum’s latest roles have given me pause – from the dreadful DEAR JOHN to the hilariously inept G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. If anything, all of that stuff seemed woefully unfocused. What sort of actor does Tatum want to be? But he recently finished work on Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE, and even though his joining up with the 21 JUMP STREET adaptation only continues the “WTF is this career?” questioning, maybe Soderbergh really is the one to pull out the great, different performances Tatum is capable of delivering.

Pettyfer’s name has been bandied about a lot lately for some big roles, particularly THE HUNGER GAMES, but rumors of his being difficult on set may have kept him from getting big work. But, make no mistake, MAGIC MIKE is some big work, if only because it’s just so damn interesting. Pettyfer was last seen in I AM NUMBER FOUR and BEASTLY and will next be on screen in Andrew Niccol’s NOW.

I still can’t quite process what sort of film MAGIC MIKE will turn out to be, but I also can’t help but await its premiere with a sort of dizzy, confused glee.

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