Channing Tatum Talks Bringing His Personal Life to the Workplace

Channing Tatum and a dog named Lulu in a still from the film "Dog"
Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SMPSP, © 2022 Metro Goldwyn-Mayer

Channing Tatum famously rose to fame by mining his own life for material, revisiting his past as a stripper in the Magic Mike franchise. He took a similar (though decidedly less sexy) approach to his directorial debut, made alongside Magic Mike producer and longtime close friend Reid Carolin. The idea for Dog, which hits theaters this week, came from a conversation about the 2018 passing of Lulu, Tatum’s beloved pit bull-Catahoula mix. (Per Carolin, the mononymous title was initially a working one, but the name stuck.) The on-screen Lulu is a retired combat dog that Tatum’s character, a U.S. Army Ranger desperately trying to get his job back after sustaining a brain injury, is tasked with driving across the country to the funeral of the soldier who was once her owner. And while the film is far from true to life, as Tatum recently told W, it did get personal enough for him to choke up on set.

The 41-year-old actor will also soon collaborate with Carolin on the third installment of Magic Mike, but not before working closely with another industry figure he holds close to his heart. He’s currently dating (and repeatedly publicly praising) Zoë Kravitz, who recently cast him as the lead in her own notably titled directorial debut, Pussy Island. Maybe it’s because they don’t start production until later this year, but to Tatum, the upcoming film is just like any other job. (Never mind the fact that the paparazzi is all over each and every one of his public appearances with his soon-to-be boss.) He opens up about both projects, here.

I love how the title of this film is just… Dog. Was that always the plan?

We thought about Lulu, but there was already a movie with that title. But my character specifically tries to not say the dog’s name for so long—he’s just like “Dog! Dog! What’s up, dog?,” because he’s trying not to personalize the animal. But he obviously starts to have a connection with her and in the end she becomes something to him.

Why did you name your real-life dog “Lulu”?

I got her when she was six weeks old, and I knew she was going to be a big, very striking looking dog because the two dogs she came from were, like, legendary dogs on my family ranch in Alabama. So I wanted to give her something sweet and kind of Southern. I didn’t want to name her, you know, “Wrath” or “Murder” or “Carnage.” [Nothing] scary. Then I thought about Lulu, and one of my friends suggested her full name be Lulu Bama.

You recently told Variety that you advised Zoë Kravitz not to star in her own directorial debut, Pussy Island, which you’re set to star in. Do you have any regrets about choosing to do both with Dog?

No, no regrets. It’s a really honest thing from experiencing it myself. I didn’t get to direct in the way that I really wanted to because there just wasn’t time. You can’t do a scene then take more time than it took to actually do the scene to watch it, right? Now you’ve just cut your day completely in half when you could be doing more takes and getting more options. And as an actor, you try not to watch yourself in the scene; you try to just stay in the scene and really be there for it. I would have never been able to do it without my best friend [Carolin] being like, “That one was terrible, let’s do another one.” But I think [Kravitz] always didn’t really want to be in [Pussy Island]. She really had something to say with it, and I think it’s smart. She’s an incredibly smart human and insanely intentional, and I think she’s gonna crush it.

Variety also reported that you’re dating. What’s it like to work with your romantic partner?

When it’s work, it’s work, you know? We met on this project. Like, I had never met her before—she brought this project to me and I was like, “You’re an artist.” She’s someone I’ve always watched in movies and been like, Wow, she’s doing really cool stuff. And that’s what it is. That’s what it started as, and that’s what it’ll always be.